Officials from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) have on Tuesday reported that Russian officials have detained two volunteers from the church at a local meeting house.
The church spokesman, Eric Hawkins said that though information on the current condition of the volunteers were pleasing but the church worries about the circumstance that led to their detention, adding that the missionaries were serving in Novorossiyk, Russia about 930 miles south of Moscow.
Hawkins said, “While we are grateful these young men are reportedly in good condition and are being treated well, we are troubled by the circumstances surrounding their detention.” Salt Lake City’s Fox 13 reports.
During the incident, a father of one of the volunteers who was detained posted on Facebook, “Everyone- Please Pray for our Son and his companion. They really need it… They were in the church building and arrested during their English class. It has been difficult to understand, and is becoming more complicated each day.”
The post continues, “His Mission President is doing everything possible to gain their release, all we can do is pray.”
Giantability News gathered that in July 2016, Russia had enacted anti-terrorism laws that included a provision which bans missionary work. However, LDS complied with Russian law and reassigned the missionaries as volunteers, cautioning them to comply with local laws and customs.
Salt Lake Tribune cited a 2017 report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, which the Russian law forbids “preaching, praying, disseminating religious materials, and even answering questions about religion outside of officially designated sites.”
Missionaries from religious denominations like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Buddhists, Mennonites, Seventh-day Adventists and Scientologists all have been affected by this law.