By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN (Worthy News)– Churches and mosques in Kazakhstan are being forced to close as that nation's deadline for mandatory re-registration expires, but many religious communities have complained that the procedures for their closures were both arbitrary and flawed.
According to Forum 18, one community was closed down for giving "false information" after one of the listed founders died during the lengthy registration process; an independent mosque was shut down for failing to give detailed information about its beliefs and a Protestant church claimed it was closed because most of its members are ethnic Kazakhs.
In some cases, Kazakhstan authorities closed mosques and churches with the consent of their congregations only after promising them that they could continue to operate as branches of other registered communities of the same faith. But leaders of these communities have complained of being compelled, or even deceived into legally complying with their own liquidations.
Among the religious communities known to have been closed against their will is the Light of the World Pentecostal Church in South Kazakhstan; other churches didn't want to be publicly identified for fear of reprisal by the state.
After October 2011, religious communities had one year to re-apply for state permission to exist according to the state's new Religion Law, otherwise all unregistered religious expression by those communities could be considered a criminal offense.