By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN (Worthy News)– An oppressive religious law adopted by Kazakhstan last year has reduced the number of officially recognized religions from 46 to 17, according to Eurasianet.
The law, which requires that all religious denominations and faith-based NGOs re-register within a year, mandates a minimum membership of 5,000 nationally, 500 regionally, and 50 locally: numbers that many religious groups in former Soviet states just can't attain.
Many former Soviet satellites often protect themselves from being challenged by religious groups with laws mandating that they all be registered with their respective governments.
Since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan's President Kazakh President Nursultan Naza has remained in power by preempting any possibility of dissent; to that end, this new law allows him to keep a tight reign on religious organizations by giving his government a voice in determining the content of their literature and the training of their clergy.
About 70 percent of the 16.4 million population of Kazakhstan are Sunni Muslim; 25 percent of the population is Christian, mostly Russian Orthodox.