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In the Eurasian country of Georgia, parliamentary deputy Ioseb Jachvliani of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition withdrew a proposed law that he claimed would have imposed fines for an unclearly defined offense of "insulting religious feelings." In his letter to parliament, he stated that the law "needs to be refined."

The Office of the Public Defender (ombudsperson) also called for the proposed law to be rejected, as it contravened 'freedom of expression' and the rule of law requirement that the legal consequences of actions should be predictable. It was further noted that the Constitutional Court has stated that "disapproval of views, values and ideas cannot serve as grounds for restricting freedom of expression."

The need for 'freedom of expression' is clearly reflective of the tremendous challenges faced by Georgians during the rule of the former Soviet Union and the communists' strict anti-religious regime. In past years, people and communities not aligned with the former Soviet-controlled Georgian Orthodox Church have suffered many attacks for their non-complying beliefs and practices. Mobs opposing them have severely attacked and injured innocent people -- including Christian evangelicals -- destroying places of worship (such as ancient frescos in church interiors) and religious literature. Baptists, Catholics and Pentecostals were included in the attacks. Few of the perpetrators were ever brought to justice by the governing officials of the day.

The situation in Georgia serves as a reminder for all Christians -- regardless of denominational affiliation or background -- to seriously heed God's greatest commandment, which has been clearly outlined by Jesus Himself in Mark 12:30-31: "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength...and...you shall love your neighbour as yourself." May the truth of the Gospel message be preached in all fullness throughout Georgia so many of its citizens will go beyond just a mere knowledge of the Lord nominally, but rather experience the reality of His abiding presence and the fulfillment of His greater purposes in their lives. For only then will the inhabitants of this historical land be truly blessed with His love, peace and the joy of united fellowship.

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