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Church Demolished: Russia's Fading Religious Freedom

A recent nighttime raid and destruction of an evangelical church outside Moscow raised concerns that religious freedom is fading in Russia. Read Transcript


IT IS DIFFICULT FOR THEM

TO TALK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED

THE NIGHT OF DECEMBER 6,

2011.

WHAT THEY DID WAS NOT

RIGHT.

WE DIDN'T EVEN HAVE TIME TO

SAVE THE BIBLES.

Reporter: ON A RECENT

MORNING ON THE EDGE OF

MOSCOW, THIS 12-YEAR-OLD AND

A HANDFUL OF HER FRIENDS

HELD SUNDAY SCHOOL ON THE

STEPS OF WHAT USED TO BE THE

ENTRANCE OF THEIR CHURCH.

I WANT THE PEOPLE WHO DID

THIS TO KNOW, I STILL LOVE

CHRIST AND I'M GOING TO PRAY

FOR THEM IN OUR COUNTRY.

Reporter: IN THE EARLY

HOURS OF THAT SEPTEMBER

MORNING, ABOUT 45 MEN,

BACKED BY LOCAL RUSSIAN

POLICE, DESCENDED ON HOLY

TRINITY PENTECOSTAL CHURCH.

I GOT HERE ABOUT 4 A.M.

AND SAW TWO LARGE EXCAVATORS

TEARING THROUGH THE CHURCH

BUILDING.

Reporter: AS WORD

SPREAD, OTHER CHURCH MEMBERS

RUSHED TO TRY TO SAVE THE

CHURCH.

I'LL NEVER FORGET THE

SOUND OF MY CHURCH BEING

CRUSHED.

IT WAS SO PAINFUL.

Reporter: THE PASTOR

ALSO TRIED TO STOP THE MEN,

BUT IT WAS TOO LATE.

THIS IS VIDEO OF HIM THAT

NIGHT.

WHEN I TRIED TO GET INTO

THE TERRITORY, I WAS STOPPED

BY DRUNK, TOUGH GUYS, WHO

INTRODUCED THEMSELVES AS A

VIGILANT GROUP ACTING ON

BEHALF OF THE CITY

DISTRICT.

THEY REFUSED TO SHOW THEIR

I.D.s AND PAPERS.

Reporter: BY 3 A.M.,

THE THREE-STORY BUILDING WAS

IN RUINS.

UNFORTUNATELY, WHAT WE'RE

SEEING TODAY IS NOTHING

NEW.

FOR DECADES, EVANGELICAL

CHRISTIANS IN RUSSIA HAVE

EXPERIENCED SIMILAR OR

WORSE.

Reporter: HOLY TRINITY

PENTECOSTAL CHURCH BECAME

REGISTERED IN THE 1970s.

IN 1995, THE CHURCH WAS

FORCED OUT OF HIS ORIGINAL

BUILDING AND MOVED TO THIS

SITE SOME 45 MINUTES OUTSIDE

MOSCOW.

THE CHURCH ERECTED A

TEMPORARY BUILDING, BUT

BATTLED AUTHORITIES OVER

BUILDING PERMITS.

FOR 17 YEARS THE CITY EVEN

PREVENTED THE CHURCH ACCESS

TO WATER AND ELECTRICITY.

THEN IN LATE AUGUST, 2012, A

DISTRICT OFFICIAL NOTIFIED

ROMAN NEUTE THAT THE CHURCH

WAS SLATED FOR DEMOLITION.

THIS MAN RUNS A CHRISTIAN

COMMUNITY IN MOSCOW.

THEY HAVE CHOOSE SEN, IN

FRONT OF THE ENTIRE COUNTRY,

IN FRONT OF THE WORLD, IN

MOSCOW, IN THE CAPITAL, JUST

TO LEVEL THE EVANGELICAL

CHURCH, MAKING THAT

STATEMENT.

Reporter: EVEN THOUGH

THE COUNTRY'S CONSTITUTION

CLEARLY STATES THAT ALL

RELIGIONS ARE EQUAL BEFORE

THE LAW, THE GOVERNMENT IS

OFTEN ACCUSED OF

DISCRIMINATING AGAINST

CITIZENS WHO PROFESS FAITH

OTHER THAN ORTHODOX

CHRISTIANITY.

THE GOVERNMENT AND THE

ORTHODOX CHURCH VIEW US

EVANGELICALS AS A THREAT.

THEY SEE OUR CONGREGATIONS

GROWING, AND THEY SEE HOW

DYNAMIC OUR SERVICES ARE AND

THEY'RE THREATENED BY IT.

Reporter: A LEADING

HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER IN

MOSCOW SAYS HOLY TRINITY

CHALLENGES ARE LEGAL

PROPERTIES ARE PART OF A

CHALLENGE FOR EVANGELICALS.

BECOME LINE, THIS IS

DISCRIMINATION.

THIS YEAR ALONE, THE

GOVERNMENT HAS GIVEN THE

RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH 200

PERMITS.

Reporter: AND WHAT EF

CULLS AR EVANGELICALS, MOST

CONCERNED ABOUT IS THEY

ACCUSE VLADIMIR PUTIN OF

TEARING DOWN WALLS BETWEEN

CHURCH AND STATE.

YOU WILL NEVER HEAR OF AN

ORTHODOX CHURCH BEING

BULLDOZED AND RANSACKED IN

THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.

Reporter: BACK ON THE

GROUNDS OF HOLY TRINITY,

ROMAN NEUTE AND THE

CONGREGATION ARE PRESSING

FORWARD.

THEY'RE HOLDING WEEKLY

SERVICES IN A LARGE TENT

NEXT TO THE DEMOLISHED

CHURCH.

THERE ARE REPORTS THAT THE

CITY WANTS TO TURN THE LAND

INTO A LARGE SPORTS

COMPLEX.

I NEVER IMAGINED IN MY

LIFE I WOULD GO THROUGH SUCH

AN EXPERIENCE.

BUT TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, I

FEEL EMBOLDENED AND FULL OF

HOPE, THANKS TO PRAYERS FROM

CHRISTIANS AROUND THE

WORLD.

Reporter: 12-YEAR-OLD

SVETA IS HOPEFUL.

SINCE THIS HAPPENED, I

HAVE BEEN ASKING GOD TO GIVE

US ANOTHER PLACE THAT WE CAN

SHARE WITH OTHERS.

I KNOW GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF

US.

EMBED THIS VIDEO

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