Posted by: becketfund | April 4, 2009

Russia: Ministry of Justice Approves Restrictive Religious Council

MOSCOW – Patriarch Kirill’s support for what he calls “the traditional religions of Russia” – Russian Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism – against all others has been institutionalized at the Russian justice ministry with the selection of a specialist notorious for his hostility toward Roman Catholics, Protestant Evangelicals, and other groups, to head a new religious council, the Georgian Daily reported on April 4. On April 3, the justice ministry’s experts council charged with providing guidance on religious questions to Russian courts and other bodies met for the first time in Moscow and in “a unanimous decision” chose Aleksandr Dvorkin, who describes himself as a specialist on “sectology,” as council head. The newly constituted council includes representatives of Russian Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism, as well as civil specialists on relations between church and state, new religious movements and “pseudo-religious criminal and extremist structures.” The inclusion of representatives from these four faiths but from no others is a victory for Kirill, who has been pushing the concept of “traditional religions” of Russia since the late 1990s, but the installation of Dvorkin is even more disturbing given his attacks on other religions and his extremely restrictive view on just what religious organizations should be permitted in Russia.

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