Authoritative accounts of Soviet repression of Baptists continue to reach the West. One of the latest reports was released last month by the London-based Center for the Study of Religion and Communism, a scholarly research organization. The report is based on information provided by a leader of the Soviet human-rights movement headed by physicist Andrei Sakharov. The informant told of reprisals against Baptists in the town of Taldy-Kurgan in Kazakhstan (Soviet Central Asia). He also read the text of an appeal signed by more than 1,800 Baptists in Central Asia. It was addressed to the Soviet government and the United Nations.
The Taldy-Kurgan incident involves an “unregistered”In most cases “unregistered” denotes that a congregation has chosen, usually for separatist reasons, not to be affiliated with the main Soviet Protestant body, the 500,000-plus-member All-Union Council of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. The council operates under state recognition—and quasi-supervision. In some cases, however, authorities have simply refused to register congregations, thereby evading the necessity of reporting their existence. The unregistered congregations are improperly called “underground” churches by some Western mission agencies; many of them meet openly, attempting to practice—and demanding—the religious freedom set forth in the Soviet constitution. congregation of Baptists. In February six members of the church were tried and sentenced to prison terms of three to five years. Four of the persons were also deprived of parental rights to their children, but at last word the children had been hidden to prevent authorities from taking them away from their mothers. (The Soviets ...1
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