This week was made an unexpected move against Russia. As stated by the U.S. Commission on international religious freedom, the US state Department needs to recognize Russia as one of the main violators of religious freedom in the world! Among the countries that already belong to this list include North Korea, Iran and China. They are all notorious violations of freedom of religion. Russia launched an offensive to religious minorities, that is, virtually all denominations who do not belong to the Orthodox Church. All this is due to the one law, which is supposedly directed against religious extremists.
20th July 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new amendment to the law that regulate the religious life of the country. Under the pretext of combating terrorism, Putin has given the authorities the right to prohibit the preaching, prayer, proselytizing and distribution of religious materials outside of a government-sanctioned churches. The U.S. state Department warned that the move demonstrates the disturbing Russian trend of intimidation and harassment. The organization Sergey Rakhuba works in Russia and in 13 other countries of the former Soviet Union.
“Among the Evangelical Christians of Russia, this law is known as antimissionary law, because it puts severe restrictions on the Evangelical Church and foreign mission organizations”, — says Sergey….. the head of the organization “Mission Eurasia”.
Among other things, the law requires that foreign missionaries had permission to evangelism. In addition, Bible reading, singing or simply praying outside of the Church was, even in the home, was illegal.
“The law carries serious harm. Many Christians suddenly began to fear that merely talking about faith or sharing with others their thoughts about God, they become criminals” — explains the lawyer of the Slavic legal center Roman Lunkin.
“In fact, the law prohibits everything that might be called missionary work, including, for example, uttering such phrases as “I believe in Jesus” — says the famous Russian writer, Professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences Andrei Desnitsky.
According to advocates of the law, it is necessary to counter terrorism, especially the terrorist attacks by radical Muslims. But….. insists that pursued a more sinister purpose.
“The Russian authorities are trying to limit the Protestant and Evangelical movement, and to prevent them spreading their influence and the gospel message”, — says Sergey……
But there is one group that stands out. The law is unlikely to affect the Orthodox Church, to which, according to polls, owns about 70% of Russians.
“At the moment there was not a single such case ever — because the Russian Orthodox Church is closely linked with the state”, — says Andrey Desnitsky.
Desnitsky, himself Orthodox, said that in his Church there are a growing number of people who consider all Christians of non-Orthodox confessions is sectarian or foreign spies. And he’s not happy.
“According to some Protestants, if not enemies, potential enemies, so they need a few to keep,” he says.
“In fact, the word “Orthodoxy” in Russian language means “the correct way to praise God” that implies that all other ways are wrong,” says an American missionary in Russia Donald Ossewaarde.
The Russian Orthodox Church has a powerful ally in the person of Vladimir Putin. In recent years the President has increased the importance and influence of the Church. Moreover, in some circles of Russian society, the Orthodox Church is the national.
“This idea is promoted in the media, NGOs and, unfortunately, the Orthodox Church and the government”, — says Sergey……
For many religious minorities is the fight to ensure that representatives of all non-Orthodox denominations had the right to freely practice their faith in Russia.