Russian-American dispute about religious rights heats up


Interfax-Religiia, 22 November 2021


The Russian Orthodox Church (RPTs) does not agree with accusations of Russia for "systematic and blatant" violation of religious liberties, which were recently voiced by American Secretary of State Antony Blinken.


"I am a member of the Inter-religious Council of Russia. There we have representation from both the Orthodox church, Muslim community, Jews, and Buddhists. Just ask any representative of the Inter-religious Council of Russia whether they are persecuted, or restricted, or are satisfied. I think that each of them will give a completely unanimous response that in Russia no religious liberties are infringed and that the traditional confessions are equal before the law and that each traditional confession has the possibility for unhindered  development," the head of the synodal Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Ilarion, said on the program "The Church and the World" on Rossia-24 television.


At the same time the hierarch noted that in Russia there are several sects that are forbidden, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, although Russia is not the only country where this sect is forbidden. The metropolitan also emphasized that this sect is forbidden not for its religious activity, but for extremism.


"If this is considered a violation of religious liberty, then for our part we do not consider it as such, because all these measures are applied in order to protect our people and to protect them primarily from manifestations of extremism," he concluded. (tr. by PDS, posted 23 November 2021)

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