Baptists in America are often the brunt of jokes (generally aimed at the more fundamentalist branches of the family tree), leading us to occasionally complain that people are unfairly beating up on Baptists. We should be grateful that the “beating up” involves words alone.

In Uzbekistan, they use clubs.

BosNewsLife, a news service that focuses on religious persecution, reported recently that several Christians were severely beaten April 3 after police raided a house church meeting in the city of Samarkand. A report on the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) website has identified the group as a Baptist congregation, led by pastor Bobur Aslamov.

After the beatings, Aslamov was hauled off to jail.

Larry Maddox, a retired Texas Baptist who is temporarily teaching in Kiev, Ukraine, told BWA in an email that Aslamov had been scheduled to attend his classes in Kiev. “Christianity is illegal in Uzbekistan and he is facing the possibility of several years in prison for practicing his faith,” Maddox said.

The Barnabas Fund, which reports on persecution of Christians, reported that “police confiscated all books, notebooks and a laptop which they found in the house.”

Uzbekistan, a former Soviet Republic, is a Muslim-majority country with a reputation for intolerance toward Christians. Forum 18, a religious news service based in Norway that highlights religious rights abuses in Central Asia, reported in February of this year “a Baptist in the eastern city of Fergana, Eduard Kim, was fined the equivalent of nine months average wages, after a raid by 10 state officials on his house where about 40 local Baptists were meeting for Sunday morning worship.” He was charged and convicted for holding “illegal religious meetings in his house.”

Occasionally I hear Baptist folk in America claim that they are being “persecuted” by the government because they aren’t allowed to promote Christianity in public schools or some other nonsense. I’m inclined to think those folks wouldn’t know persecution if it hit them in the face.

In Uzbekistan, that’s precisely what they do.

[Map from Wikimedia Commons]

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