Friday, September 23, 2011

More in Information on Kazakhstan's New Religious Restrictions

As has been mentioned in earlier posts, a law has been proposed in Kazakhstan that would dramatically affect the operations of many religious groups. Among other things, the law would:
  • De-register all currently existing religious organizations and require a costly re-registration.
  • Require religious groups to have their religious writing and documents to be evaluated by the state.
  • Ban all religious activity for non-registered groups.
  • Impose censorship of religious literature.
  • Restrict distribution of religious literature to religious buildings...
  • But also require religious groups to obtain state approval to build or open religious buildings.
The Institute on Religion and Public Policy has recently released their own legislative analysis of the proposed law. The law is still under consideration by the Kazakhstan Parliament, but it was passed by the Parliament's Lower House on September 21.

This unfolding event is a great example for us of how religious markets exist within legal and institutional settings and that the nature of religion in a religious market can change due to changes in that setting. This will be a recurring theme in our course.

13th Annual Report on International Religious Freedom

On September 13, the US State Department issued its 13th Annual Report on International Religious Freedom. This report, which is required by an act of Congress:

documents major developments with respect to religious freedom in 198 countries and territories from July-December 2010. The report reflects a broad understanding of universal religious freedom, one that includes the rights to hold private beliefs, including agnosticism or atheism, as well as the right to communal religious expression and education (quoted from the Executive Summary).

One of the most interesting things to look for whenever the report comes out is its identification of the most egregious violators of religious freedom. They are named in the Executive Summary, which is a good section to read to get a good sense of the entire report.