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Uzbek TV program warns of Christian missionary activities

(UZ Report) Uzbek TV warned against missionary activities by Christian sects in the country it its unscheduled program called “Hypocrisy” on 30 November.
The presenter of the program started with the following words: “Although our people have left behind the afflictions of the Soviet system, the dangers and attacks – which are directed against our historical memory and national feelings and which aim to turn people into zombies that are alien to our people’s spirituality and national identity – have not yet ended. On the contrary, even more dangerous afflictions are emerging. For instance, the fact that certain missionary communities are trying to achieve their hypocritical goals by taking advantage of the religious freedoms guaranteed in our multi-faith society raises serious concerns.”
The head of the committee for religious affairs department under the Uzbek Cabinet of Ministers, Zulhaydar Sultonov, said missionary activities could cause division in society. “We can see the causes that could lead our society to division under missionary activities,” he said. He also cited an example of an Uzbek who converted to a Christian sect while studying in Russia and planned a Christian funeral for his deceased Muslim father but who was prevented from doing so by his brothers.
“Today this is causing small conflicts. If this situation escalates it will be one of the factors damaging our country’s development and future,” Sultonov added.
Behzod Qodirov, head expert at the committee for religion affairs under the Uzbek Cabinet of Ministers, described what he sees as the negative influence of following sects on families. “Turning away from the religion of one’s ancestors is not only one’s own mistake but this conditions also lead to certain conflicts and very bad situations between brothers, sisters and between parents and their children,” Qodirov said.
A Russian woman named Vera, captioned as a former member of a Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, said that her group did not allow celebrating birthdays and other holidays. “The goal from this was to make new members completely dependant on the leaders of the sect and to turn their minds away from a healthy environment,” she said.
Bahrom, a student and the former member of a Christian group standing with his back to the camera, said that some teachers of English from the USA propagated Christianity at an Uzbek university. “The main goal of the Americans, that is, Gerald, Gary, Luke and others wasn’t to deeply teach English but to propagate their own religion and spread Christianity in Uzbekistan ,” he said.
Over video of historical Islamic sites, the presenter said that the local people never converted to other religions in the past. “If look into history, we will see that Central Asia was a cultural cross-roads from the past and that Muslims lived peacefully with Christians and Jews. However, there had never been any cases of people giving up their ancestors’ religion of Islam like today,” he said.
“If the targeted young men or women don’t have their own national values which they live by or the ability to think independently or a developed worldview, they will become easy prey for the missionaries,” the presenter continued.
Over the video of chanting and clapping worshipers, the presenter suggested that missionaries use financial means to attract new followers to their sects. “Those who use religion to achieve various goals firstly make good use of one’s economic situation. On the pretext of financially helping people in need, they instil their own teachings in these people’s minds. As it turns out, soon the targeted people become complete zombies,” he said.
A woman captioned as “a member of the illegally operating Full Gospel Christian Church” confirmed that she receives financial help as she is a single mother with two children.
Moreover, the presenter proceeded to say that missionaries try to attract sick and disabled people. Over video of an old bearded man wearing a blue skull cap, the presenter said: “O, old man, what if you can’t find the cure for your illness from here. Will you then change your faith again or what if you have to pay a dear price for being caught by these swindlers? Then who will be held accountable?”
The presenter also identified drug use as another way for sects to attract new members. Over video of a man hiding his face and another one lying in bed with his back to the camera, he said: “These religious people, who consumed drugs, have completely lost their human face and the ability to control their body”.
Feruza Alimova, captioned as a psychologist, said that drugs are “certainly a universal way to capture young people with a week will and character”.
Moreover, Alimova described how missionaries use hypnosis to attract new members to their sects and said that this was a dangerous method.
The program offered more interviews with new Christian converts who said that they were called to Christianity by their neighbors and friends.
Over video of Uzbek women dancing to a song from northeastern Xorazm Region in a Christian church, the presenter expressed surprise. “A Xorazm song and dance at a Christian house of worship? Honestly, we weren’t expecting this,” he said.
In conclusion, the presenter of the programme suggested that the use of the Uzbek language in Church services is another indication of missionary work. “Organizing Uzbek-language service in Christian churches is undoubtedly evidence of a serious intent to convert local people to Christianity. As you can see, the people who turned away from their forefathers’ religion of Islam and chose Christianity are coming to the house of worship and congratulating each other over their holidays. These are the fruits of the fact that religious missionary work is well underway,” he said.
Source: BBC Monitoring Central Asia