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Predvestnik: The Russian Language Forerunner

Tatarstan: Making a Decision Between Islam and Christianity

By Editorial Staff
Published April 1, 1994

A Special Report from the Russian language Forerunner

By Oleg Aleksandrov
Translation by Roman Medvid

KAZAN, Tatarstan – The spread of the gospel in the former USSR has become an irreversible process. You can hear a lot about new churches and Bible schools being started, Christian literature being distributed and the lives of millions of people being healed.

The louder the gospel proclamation, however, the more indignant are those who see it as a threat to their well-being. It is no wonder that many inter-religious and inter-denominational problems emerged recently. These conflicts are dramatized in major cities where religion is tightly knit with nationalistic endeavors.

One of these “hot spots” is Kazan. The capital city of Tatarstan, the city is a large industrial, academic and cultural center in the Volga river valley region. The population of Kazan surpassed one million many years ago. Russians and Tatars make up 90 percent of the city, having equal shares of the population. However, local government offices and economic leadership are dominated by people of Tatar nationality. In attempt to maintain and enlarge their influence, the Tatars are evoking national conflicts. One of the most influential means, Islam, is the most traditional and common religion for the majority of the population.

During the rule of the Soviet Union, the roots of Islam were not entirely done away with in Tatarstan. Even though many priests were persecuted, many mosques were closed and Islamic religious literature was banned, the Muslim presence remained. Having penetrated the historical and national traditions of the Tatar nation, Islam recently became the “national religion,” as opposed to Christianity, which had been brought here by Russian migrants.

Antagonism between the two religions reached its climax recently. The conflict led some nationalistic groups under Islamic banners to call for the jihad, or “the Holy War.” The ideological position of Islam sees a struggle with another religion’s adherents as something that pleases Allah and every person killed in the struggle is seen as a martyr.

However, this extreme position has not been in favor with the common people of Tatarstan. In fact, the Orthodox Church, characterized by a great tolerance of other religions, has never promoted the conflict. Relations between Russians and Tatars have never been in enmity. Before it became a means of political struggle, Islam never had this strong support from the government.

Now the shift has taken place: old mosques in the Old City are being rebuilt at a rapid speed, new ones are built in modern districts and Islamic literature is being distributed through regular news stands. The idea is being promulgated among the common people that a real Tatar is to go to a mosque. Mass media promotes traditionalism, a return to old religious values and a refutation of anything new that has come during the past few decades.

This situation causes many problems to numerous young Christian churches, missions and centers. Evangelical Protestants have to counter much opposition not only from the government and followers of Islam, but also from the Russian Orthodox Church. Members of different Protestant denominations are far from agreement. This fact inevitably leads to the weakening of their influence. We hope that Christians from all denominations and confessions would unite in order to carry the Word of Truth to the people.


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Massacre of Innocence (DVD)

Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion

This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

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Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner

The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.

Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.

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