Mormon family loses appeal in European court


Nezavisimaia Gazeta, 20 October 2020


On 20 October 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (E.C.H.R.) published a decision in the case of the pastor of the "Community of Christ" church [also known as Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—tr.], Perov v. Russia.


The appeal was filed by attorney Roman Maranov, who asked the E.C.H.R. to consider the case of a pastor from the village of Gribanovka of Voronzh oblast, Aleksei Perov, whose son was beaten in school after the performance of an Orthodox prayer service on 3 September 2007.


The pastor's son David refused to kiss a cross during a prayer service and was beaten by classmates. According to information of the Slavic Legal Center, "during recess the children went to the playroom, attacked the first grader, and began beating him; they beat him also after the second class and after the third class, since they found out that he is not Orthodox, and that means "alien." In the end the parents of the injured child transferred him into a different class.


In October 2007, Pastor Aleksei Perov filed in court a request to find the performance of an Orthodox prayer service in the village school No. 3 to be illegal and to compensate for moral damages. In December 2007, the Gribanovka district court of Voronezh oblast declined to grant the lawsuit. On 26 February 2009, the Voronezh oblast court reviewed a cassation appeal against the decision of the Gribanovka district court and left its decision in force.


In August 2009, the pastor's family filed an appeal in the European Court of Human Rights, calling attention to the violation of their rights to freedom of conscience and to an education corresponding to their religious convictions.


After reviewing the materials of the case, the European court came to the conclusion that article 2 of protocol 1 in the Convention on Human Rights (rights of parents to the education of children in accordance with the family's religious convictions) was not violated in the Voronezh case: although the invitation for a non-Orthodox pupil to participate in an Orthodox prayer service without notifying his parents is evidence of disrespect for the religious convictions of the family on the part of the state, at issue is an isolated event, in the court's opinion. In addition, the court did not find any confirmation of pressure on the first-grader on the part of the school or other actions compelling him by force to participate in the prayer service. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 October 2020)


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