A church in Belarus loses its property 10:57, 12/12/2005
Forum 18 reports that the Charismatic New Life Church in Belarus has lost the bid to keep their property. The 2002 Religion Law bans unregistered religious activity. Despite repeated violation warnings, New Life has been ministering from a disused cowshed since September 2004. However, the decision to uphold the judgement may not be as religious as it is political. The catch is in the administration.
The Executive Committee`s decision was based on the church`s alleged violation of the Land Code, which states that rights to land may be curtailed if it is not used in accordance with its designation.
But changing the designation wasn`t possible either. The church had both used the cowshed as a house of worship and modernized it without obtaining state permission to change the designation of either the building or its attached land.
That means, they violated yet another ordinance over the reconstruction, which, in turn, requires the state`s approval under the 2003 Law on Architectural and Construction Activity.
The church argued that this would not constitute a legal basis for asserting that the land had not been used in accordance with its designation.
They were unsuccessful in getting permission to rent other premises or get registration in Minsk. Because of its lack of state-approved worship premises, New Life Church has been unable to get re-registered under the 2002 Religion Law.
This Friday, New Life begins monthly prayer meetings over the issue.