Moscow patriarchate disputes American view of religious liberty


Interfax-Religiia, 28 September 2019


The Russian Orthodox Church (RPTs) declared that Jehovah's Witnesses, whose organization is forbidden in the RF, find themselves in prison not for their religious views but because of extremist actions.


"So far as I know, those Jehovah's Witnesses who are subjected to imprisonment are subjected to it not for their convictions, not for their religious teaching. Nobody will put a person in prison on the basis of doctrinal propositions. The issue always is about extremism," said the head of the synodal Department of External Church Relations, Metropolitan Ilarion, on a broadcast of the program "Church and World" on the Rossiia-24 television channel.


Speaking about the detention of Jehovists in Surgut, where there appeared reports about the use of torture on members of the organization, the metropolitan noted that "in all concrete cases it is necessary to investigate concretely." "If we are talking about torture, if it is a proven fact, then there cannot be any justification for this fact, regardless of who was subjected to torture—Orthodox, Muslim, Jew, Baptist, or representative of any sect," the metropolitan said.


He expressed disagreement with the approach of the United States to questions of religious freedom, speaking of protests by the State Department against the prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.


"Americans have their own approach to religious topics: they believe that there should not be traditional confessions in one country or another, that all religious traditions, including different kinds of sects, should enjoy identical benefits. We have different criteria and different approaches, and on a number of criteria we do not comply with the American approaches," the metropolitan noted. (tr. by PDS, posted 30 September 2019)

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