Kyrgyzstan: Nothing brings together Orthodox

by Nathan Hamm on 9/9/2003

Kyrgyzstan: Nothing brings together Orthodox Christians and Muslims like the Mormons
IWPR reports that Mormons are pretty active in Kyrgyzstan

The Mormons – or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints – will join Hare Krishnas, Bahais and a number of proselytising
Christian groups that have appeared in Kyrgyzstan since the end of the
Soviet Union. The State Commission on Religious Affairs estimates that
there are currently around 30 of these “new” faiths. The ethnic Kyrgyz
are traditionally Muslims, while the large Russian-speaking community
is part of the Orthodox Christian world. The foreign-funded groups are
able to offer their parishioners more than the longer-established
Religions. Depending on the church, the benefits may include free
English and computer classes, foreign scholarships, business loans, or
even flour and imported food.

That’s great, buy faith with food, education, and dollars.

The Mormons were able to secure a high-level meeting with
Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev on August 27, as part of a delegation
from Utah. Church representative Russell Nelson said members of his
faith would soon be arriving to do missionary work in Kyrgyzstan. The
delegation made it clear that future aid from the state of Utah would
depend on whether the Kyrgyz government gave the Mormons legal status
in the country.

Utah has a foreign policy! Didn’t we fight a war against the Mormons to
bring them under our dominion? What the hell? If it was a church
delegation, I wouldn’t be so alarmed, but this makes it sound like Utah
hands out foreign aid. People appreciate the aid:

Predictably, converts are happy with the mix of religion
and aid they receive. Elvira Davletalieva, a mother of two, makes no
secret of the fact that it was the regular assistance given to
parishioners that inspired her to join the Union of Evangelical
Baptists.
“My husband was seriously ill after a car accident, and I was
unemployed. So the food, clothes for the kids, medicine, money to buy
coal – all free of charge – were much needed,” she told IWPR.

But, it sounds like people don’t really care much for the religion part of the deal…

Disabled mother Anna Pozdnyakova, whose children were taken
on a trip to Lake Issyk-Kul by the Korean Christian Church, is relaxed
about the effect the preaching will have on them, “The church looked
after them, and I’m grateful. As for the fact that they taught them the
Bible and how to pray – that won’t hurt the children. When they grow
up, they can figure things out for themselves.”


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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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