09 November 2005, 15:36
Russian Orthodox Church rejects a proposal of atheists to remove the word 'God' from national anthem
Moscow, November 9, Interfax - To doubt the legitimacy of the word 'God' in the Russian anthem is tantamount to doubting the words 'Russia' and 'ancestors', - archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for external church relations thinks.
'A great part of Russian citizens consider themselves religious believers. Why to deny them an opportunity to hear the word 'God' so dear to their hearts in the national anthem?', Fr. Vsevolod told Interfax on Wednesday.
Such was his comment to the initiative of the Moscow atheists to challenge the correspondence of the Russian national anthem to the Fundamental Law in the Constitutional Court.
The priest added that 'there are people who do not love our history and our forefathers. There are others who might make a wry face hearing the word 'Russia'. All these words are used in the anthem. Is it really necessary to give up the values shared by the majority of people?'
According to the Church's representative, 'if we make a concession, the majority will be discriminated for minority'.
A famous Orthodox missioner and professor of the Moscow theological academy deacon Andrei Kuraev told Interfax that both atheists and believers were Russian citizens and were entitled to contest the word 'God' in the national anthem.
However, if the word is removed 'the believers will take it as a slap in the face', Fr. Andrei said.
'When atheists talk about God, they talk about a certain vacuum. God is a fiction for them', he added.
According to Kuraev, all these factors should be considered during debates in the Constitutional Court.
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