Turkmenistan is the second-largest country in Central Asia, but the smallest population, with the majority professing Sunni Islam. The earliest material evidence of the Christian presence in Central Asia, derives from Turkmenistan; however, in modern Turkmenistan it is a minority religion. The largest non-Muslim minority faith is Russian Orthodox Christianity; there is also a small contingent of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The main Protestant denominations are Evangelical Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists and Evangelical Lutherans, many of which operate as underground house churches since registration is almost impossible. The Russian Orthodox expression of Christianity is the ‘majority-minority’ community in Turkmenistan, primarily centred among the local-born Russian-Turkmen mixed-raced or Russian and other European ethnic communities of the country. Turkmen law, recognising that the majority of the population are Muslims, prohibits proselytising, including the publication and import of religious literature. With an unregistered status, many individuals and religious communities continually experience administrative restrictions or various other forms of persecution, including imprisonment. Today there are more than 2,000 Protestant believers in Turkmenistan belonging to officially registered Evangelical unions and significantly more believers belonging to independent or unregistered churches.
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