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New Russian Federation anti-extremism laws will have profound effect on citizens’ lives

New Russian Federation anti-extremism laws will have profound effect on citizens’ lives

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The Deseret News reports that LDS missionaries in the seven missions throughout the Russian Federation will now be officially called “visitors” to comply with the new law. Additionally, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement Friday, 8 JUL 2016, the day after Putin signed the new law: “The Church recognizes a new law will take effect in Russia on 20 JUL 2016 that will have an impact on missionary work. The Church will honor, sustain and obey the law. Missionaries will remain in Russia and will work within the requirements of these changes. The Church will further study and analyze the law and its impact as it goes into effect.”

In June of this year the Russian Federation’s Duma approved a finalized version of anti-extremist/anti-terrorist legislation that had been previously introduced by Duma delegate Irina Yarovaya. The legislation was introduced as an extreme response to the attacks in Paris last year, as well as, the bombing of a Russian airliner. Following the approval of the final draft, to become law the legislation required approval of the Federation Council, the other house of the Russian Federal Assembly, and then the signature of Russian President Vladimir Putin. One aspect of the new law, scheduled to go into effect 20 JUL 2016, would have a profound affect in the religious lives of many Russian citizens.

Putin signed the bill 7 JUL and the Yarovaya Law went into effect three days ago. The law strictly defines and regulates evangelism or missionary work. The sharing of religion is now restricted to the houses of worship of officially recognized religious organizations. The sharing of one’s faith in individual homes, online or anywhere but a recognized religious building is strictly forbidden. Additionally, anyone doing evangelism/missionary work must carry a government permit obtained through an officially recognized religious organization.

If the law is strictly enforced as written, anyone doing missionary work other than in a religious building, or without a permit, could individually be fined $780 and the institution they represent could be fined $15,500. A foreign visitor could also be deported for breaking this law. Those most affected would be small religious groups who until now have gathered in individual member’s homes because they can’t afford an officially recognized building. Christian organizations most affected by the new laws are Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovahs Witnesses and Latter-day Saints. Muslim and Jewish organizations are also alarmed by the new law. Other religious groups potentially affected are the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and Federation areas with large Buddhist populations where Buddhist monks traditionally beg on the streets for their daily sustenance.

At this point, no one in Russia knows to what extent this law will be enforced against religious groups. Nor whether individual officials under the color of law will use the law to carry out personal persecution of local groups. It was reported by one group that a local police officer visited a home where Pentecostal Christians meet on Sundays and made the threat that with the new law he would drive them all out. Other’s fear that they could be punished for merely using email to invite family or friends to church.

Primary information for this story was gathered from Meduza, the Deseret News, Christianity Today and HuffPost Religion.
The main image of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Duma Delegate Irina Yarovaya is from Russia Today. The image of the LDS missionaries is from mormonwiki.com.

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Poppy StJohn

Does tweeting and replying to a religious blog like this count as evangelism in that country?If a mentally ill person is discussing an unrecognized religion away from church would pay psyhiatrists have to move their practices in the basement of officially recognized churchs?Perhapse,the psychiatrist would leave the topic out of his/her notes?
Would doing research and talking about a religion at a university count if it was done with in the walls of a blessed campus chapel?

Could anyone who had money build a church on their premises to discuss the holy bible or has this new law been enacted to prevent polygamy and keep out people who sincerly operate their own agendas using religion as their vessel for committing crimes.

Perhapse,this law was enacted for propaganda purpse to make people focus on improving the lives of their own citizens.
Usally,when something has been banned people may sneak around and start learning about the forbidden religion,but at least it won't be mentioned daily on their news channels!

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Marshall Scott

Russia has a long history of favoring one religious expression - Orthodoxy in communion with the Moscow Patriarch - over all others. This was even somewhat true in the Soviet Union, if more visible in the earliest and the latest days.

We have a long history, we humans, of favoring one religious expression over others. Sometimes it is de jure, as in this Russian law or in England (remember, only one is "by law established"); and sometimes it is de facto, which is how we might describe how Christianity has historically been treated in these United States. Nor, as we know, is this simply a Christian issue. Parochial as we are, we often seem shocked when a nation that is at least technologically contemporary should lack interest as we have it in separation of Church and State. However, our official position is the exception among human governments, both historically and currently. It is, therefore, all the more worth cherishing and defending.

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