Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Russian Law Limits Evangelization by Non-Russian Churches

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Russian Law Limits Evangelization by Non-Russian Churches

Article excerpt

The Russian parliament approved a law that forbids "non-Russian churches or individuals from engaging in missionary, publishing or propaganda activities." This law, adopted July 14, "will allow for a balanced approach to registering nontraditional religious communities," explained Orthodox Patriarch Alexei.

There were immediate protests at the infringement of religious liberty and the right to free association. Fr. Gleb Yakunin, a Russian Orthodox priest who spent many years in labor camps in tbe Soviet period, said that parliament, of which he is a member, "was destroying the democratic progress we have already made."

The head of the Russian Baptist Church, Alexander Ivanovich, warned that if the Russian Orthodox Church were behind this move, "it could presage discrimination against Russian Protestants." One indication that the Russian Orthodox Church was indeed deeply involved is that April 20, just five days before the referendum, President Boris Yeltsin held a meeting with the leaders of the main religious confessions. They presented him with a petition asking for a ban on foreign preachers.

Certainly the Russian Orthodox Church is on the defensive against televangelists and rich American sects. But at first it seemed this legislation was the brain-child of Ruslan Khasbulatov, chairman of the parliament, who set up an "Expert' Consultative Committee" to draft the new legislation. Its head, Yuri Rosenbaum, is a former legal adviser to the KGB. However, Rosenbaum, who in the spring hosted a conference with American lawyers on church and state, dissociated himself from the new law, declaring it "badly framed and internally contradictory." Was that dust in the eyes?

Until it is signed by Yeltsin, it cannot become law. If it is part of his struggle with the parliament, he may not sign it If, on the other hand, it is a bid to win the support of the Orthodox Church, he might sign it willingly. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.