I still remember how 30 years ago, during the years of the atheistic communist regime under which I was growing up we, 10-12 year old boys, had a fun thing to do. We used to go to one of the central streets of our town to look at a window which displayed items of Western diversion and propaganda. Among those items were pornographic magazines and films, and…Bibles and evangelistic tracts.
Today, 20 years after the collapse of communism faith and pornography remain on the same plane for the local city legislators. I realized that the deception about God and Jesus Christ still has a grip on this society and its leaders. Thus the ministry of fighting for religious liberty remains a critical missionary work which can expose these lies and will open up witnessing opportunities for the church.
Recently we published our 23rd issue of Freedom for All – our online magazine for the freedom of religion, conscience and speech in Bulgarian. The main theme was how the local authorities in Bulgaria violate these constitutional rights and freedoms and hinder the ministry of evangelical churches. One article included many examples of local ordinance which directly regulated this constitutional matter, and in a very restrictive way. One of the municipalities violating these fundamental freedoms of faith and speech was the one in Vidin.In their Ordinance for the Preservation of Public Order and Security on the territory of the Vidin Community they have the following text in article 17, section 6:
It is forbidden to show pornographic films in all publicly accessible paces and to distribute printed an advertising materials belonging to religious sects, as well as their events in public places.
This text effectively and illegally diminishes the Christian evangelical faith, widely known as “sects” in Bulgaria, to mere pornography. It also deprives people of some of their fundamental rights, like freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of gathering and disseminating information, freedom of gathering indoors without permission from the authorities. As a result I called on the pastors of churches in the community to get together and discuss my proposed action to protest this illegal and unjust provision in the ordinance.
After two meetings four churches in Vidin signed a letter which I wrote demanding the renunciation of the text by the end of May 2010. We are still waiting to hear from them. If they do not revoke the text we will file a law suit demanding the court to strike down the quasi-legal travesty of the local legislators whose thinking about religion and the faith has not changed a bit in 30 long years.