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Religion News Current News Items
Convergence of church and state displayed in urban
MURMANSK ACTIVISTS PICKET AGAINST "ORTHODOX PROPAGANDA" DURING WORSHIP
M51 (Murmansk), 6 October 2012
On Saturday holiday events in honor of the 96th anniversary of Murmansk
were held throughout the city. One of the main events of the day to the
mind of the leadership of the city and Archbishop of Murmansk and
Monchegorsk Simon was supposed to be the Divine Liturgy in the center
of the city. However, not all people of Murmansk think such an order of
things to be normal, and so three civil activists unfurled on the
Square of Five Corners a number of solitary pickets precisely at the
time of the worship service.
Tatiana Kulbakina is well known in the city; the bright girl often uses
the method of the solitary picket for defending her convictions. Thus
recently in the same place Tatiana expressed support for the "Pussy
Riot" punk group. Today the activist had in her hand a poster with a
quotation from the Russian constitution: article 14, point 1 "The
Russian federation is a secular state. No religion may be established
in the capacity of a state or obligatory religion." It is difficult to
argue with that. So where does Tatiana see the injustice?
Tatiana Kulbakina, civil activist:
--I am upset that this event is official. It was planned and initiated
by the administration of the city, among others. But even if it is, why
is it the only one of its kind today? After all, the holiday is for all
citizens, belonging to all confessions or not belonging to any. Why on
a weekend are people taking a walk to the very center of the city
forced to listen to prayers and church bells? This is coercion and I am
against that. Everything should not be organized this way; in the final
analysis, there are many temples and churches in Murmansk that have
been built for such things and could easily accommodate everyone
wanting them. But unfortunately the practice of a certain convergence
of the Russian Orthodox Church and state authority has not been rare
Tatiana's companions have more categorical opinions, but even their
actions did not cross the boundaries of the law.
On the poster of Aleksei Raskhodchikov, who is also well known in the
city as a civil activist, there are a skull and crossbones and the
slogan "Secularization or Death." What does he mean by this terrible
slogan? It turns out its all the same freedom of conscience because
secularization is the process of emancipation of all spheres of public
and personal life from the control of religion.
The young Murmansk artist Leonid Arch Genius, who recently participated
in a protest exhibit "Music of Spring" along with Tatiana Kulbakina,
demands saying "No" to clericalization. Clericalization is the process
opposite to secularization; it is the political aspiration of getting
church and clergy the primary role in the public, political, and
cultural life of society. How does Leonid understand what is expressed
clearly on the poster in his hands?
Leonid Arch Genius, independent artist:
--What is happening at this moment is nothing more than Orthodox
propaganda. Personally for me this is unacceptable, since they are now
forcing upon me such values of Orthodoxy as humility, for example. And
I do not consider this dignified. In principle it seems to me that the
further strengthening of religiosity will lead to repression and the
degradation of society, and the loss of wisdom, since the church does
not permit critical thinking; everything must be accepted on faith. Of
course I respect the right of people to believe in God, but let them
also respect my right not to believe, and thus such events are
impermissible in the midst of the city.
The maintainers of legal order, of whom many had assembled for the
event of the holiday in the center of the city, respected the rights of
the activists and did not interfere with them, although they documented
the protest with a video camera. However both those who were
celebrating as Christians and those who were not showed themselves to
be tolerant citizens; some even willingly had themselves photographed
with the picketers. No aggression came even from representatives of
RPTs, only mild surprise registered on the faces of priests departing
from the square. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 October 2012)
Russian original posted on Portal-credo.ru
site, 7 October 2012
Religion News Current News Items
Prominent resistance to believers' feelings law
BELIEVERS COME TO THEIR SENSES.
Intent to toughen punishment for insulting religion criticized in
by Alexander Chernykh
Kommersant, 5 October 2012
Yesterday in hearings in the Public Chamber of the Russian federation
(OPRF), the draft law establishing criminal penalties for hurting
believers' feelings, that was introduced into the State Duma, was
subjected to sharp criticism. A majority of the hearings' participants
demanded that the document be withdrawn, stating that it itself
promotes incitement of inter-ethnic strife. Only representatives of
RPTs and Muslim clergy approved the draft.
In opening the hearings, the head of the Commission on Development of
Civil Society of OPRF, Joseph Diskin, stated that society should
respond to situations where someone tries to damage "fundamental
values" of both believers and atheists. However, he said, the current
version of the law creates a situation where religious radicals "impose
their rule on the whole country."
We recall that the draft law was introduced into the State Duma on 26
September. It is proposed to supplement the Criminal Code with an
article according to which the fine for hurting believers' feelings
will be 300 thousand rubles or at the discretion of the court this
violation of the law faces three years in a penal colony. For
desecration of churches, mosques, and synagogues, the total fine will
be 500 thousand rubles and a prison term of up to five years. The Code
of Administration Violations of Law can be supplemented by an article,
"public desecration or damage of religious and liturgical literature,"
having a fine of 50 thousand rubles.
Virtually all of the hearings' participants called the law defective
and in need of clarifications. Thus the head of the OP Commission on
Inter-ethnic Relations, Nikolai Svanidze, called attention to the fact
that the legal act will protect only "religions constituting an
integral part of the historic heritage of the peoples of Russia." "We
have in our country pagans who may pray to Perun or even a roadside
stump, and nobody will protect their feelings," Mr. Svanidze declared.
"The law violates the constitutional provision of the equality of
religions." This same thought was continued by the head of the Russian
Associated Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith, Sergei
Riakhovskii, who previously had supported the bill. "As a protestant I
consider my faith a part of the heritage of Russia, but the law does
not enumerate the religions," he complained, and he threatened to sue
in court "sect fighters and bigots who insult us."
"Just what are believers' feelings?" Mr. Svanidze continued to take
apart the text of the bill. "If it is possible to hurt them, that means
you believe badly."
"Well, this is just too much," Vsevolod Chaplin said in outrage; he is
the head of the synodal Department for Relations of Church and Society.
"The formulation 'believers' feelings' exists in the Code of
Administrative Violations of Law. Offending them is more dangerous than
any domestic squabbles; it could even lead to civil war." He was
supported by the head mufti of Moscow, Albert Krganov: "A real moral
degradation is underway in society; this concerns Muslims. It is
necessary to respect their feelings." He said the government should
respond to various "tense situations;" otherwise the opposition will
lure believers into rallies. A former Duma deputy, the head of "Young
Russia," Maksim Mishchenko, began reading collected excerpts from the
Bible and then declared: "Faith is the last hope of the state before
the aggressions of transnational corporations."
Other participants in the discussion nevertheless criticized the bill
and the famous lawyer Genri Reznik stated that the amendments
themselves foment inter-ethnic strife. "The State Duma has assembled a
troop of illiterate people. They adopt laws that evoke fright in
lawyers," he stated and he addressed the representation of the RPTs:
"Father Vsevolod, do we really have persecution of the church now?"
After receiving an affirmative answer, Genri Reznik said
indignantly: "Tell the truth, Father Vsevolod. Are worship
services really prevented now or is there massive desecration of
churches? You yourself are substituting the institution of the church
for faith." It has even reached the leadership of the country; in
the attorney's opinion, the uproar surrounding "Pussy Riot" was evoked
"not by the deed of the songstresses but by the stupidity of the
Participants in the hearings suggested that the draft law be reworked.
"It is necessary to change the concept. It is necessary to introduce
the concept of 'religious space,' where the traditions of believers
will operate," Joseph Diskin suggested. "Churches, mosques, and other
houses of worship should be marked with a special sign. Museums get
such a sign. Believers will know about the threat of hurting their
feelings and begin to attend such places at their own risk."
In his turn, the first deputy secretary of the Public Chamber, Mikhail
Ostrovskii, suggested, instead of the bill, to develop a kind of
"social contract" between believers and nonbelievers.
However the majority demanded complete withdrawal of the bill from the
State Duma. "This document violates so many legal norms that it should
not even be discussed," declared the religious studies scholar and
doctor of juridical sciences Anatolii Pchelintsev. "Sophomores in law
school cope with the writing of laws better than these deputies."
"Too many people are not dealing with the problem seriously," Vsevolod
Chaplin told the hearings' participants. "If because of hurting
believers' feelings blood is shed in our country, it will be on your
conscience, gentlemen." (tr. by PDS, posted 65 October 2012)
Russian original posted on Portal-credo.ru,
5 October 2012
STATEMENTS AGAINST BILL PROTECTING BELIEVERS' FEELINGS BASED ON
POLITICAL GROUNDS—VSEVOLOD CHAPLIN
4 October 2012
The head of the synodal Department for Relations of Church and Society,
Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, sees a political subtext in criticism of
the draft law on the protection of believers' feelings.
"The formulation 'believers' feelings' is already present in existing
law, in the Code of Administrative Violations of Law. There is nothing
new in this formulation. Why are people now trying to dispute it? I
think that it is on the basis of purely political reasons," the priest
declared at a discussion of the bill on Thursday in the Public Chamber.
In his opinion, some people "do not at all want" for these actions to
be stopped, which are now being conducted against temples, synagogues,
and mosques. The representative of the church pointed out that there
are many such general formulations like "believers' feelings" in
"Here if you will: national strife. What kind of thing is national
strife? Nobody can tell you with precision. Then let's remove the
wording from the legislation," he noted with irony.
Father Vsevolod recalled that according to the constitution the
government is obligated to protect the rights and freedom of person and
citizen, including the right to freedom of religious confession "which
is unthinkable without protection of certain symbols."
"They tell us that the government should protect only the person. I do
not agree with this in principle," he emphasized, recalling that the
government protects not only a person but also symbolic values: graves,
state symbols, monuments of culture.
"And while values which are significant also for nonbelievers are
protected quite stiffly, they suggest to us that religious values be
protected by a fine of 500 to 1,000 rubles; this is a double standard
and it is wrong. In our country worldviews are equal," the priest
He supposes that the bill will still be changed and he pointed to the
importance of the fact that already in the current version, a court
gets broad possibilities "both for severity and for mercy."
In his turn, the first deputy chairman of the Central Ecclesiastical
Board of Muslims, mufti of Moscow and the Central Region of Russia,
Albir Krganov, put the stress on law enforcement practice. He recalled
that recently a court in Orenburg banned Islamic works. "Who are the
experts? Teachers in schools? Some teacher of sports writes an expert
analysis that a book that Muslims have had for a thousand years cannot
be used. Similarly when there is the law (on protection of believers'
feelings—IF), if it will be applied in that way then, of course, we
will have very big problems," the mufti added. (tr. by PDS, posted 5
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