01 December 2009, 11:47
Russian Church considers strange U.S. State Department protects rights of Satanists
Moscow, December 1, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate is perplexed that the U.S. Department of State criticized Russia’s struggle against extremism in its religious freedom report 2009.
"It is precisely the extremism, with its abuse of the innate religious feeling, that underlies international terrorism, which claimed lives of many Russian and U.S. servicemen who fought against it," head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk said in his letter to the U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle, posted on the DECR website.
The Inter-religious Council of Russia "spoke against extremism on many occasions, condemning the abuse of religious freedom and freedom of speech, be it anti-Semitism, or publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed or the anti-Christian exhibition in Moscow," the Archbishop said.
"In this context, the report's authors seem to have ambiguous concerns about the rights of the Satanists whose cult is related with the profanation of sacred places of religions, the review of which is given in the report by the U.S. Department of State," the letter said.
Regrettably, the report condemns "the restrictions imposed on certain "new religious movements," Archbishop Hilarion said.
At the same time, the report says nothing "about the instances that led to such restrictions," he said.
"Many former followers of the said movements, who were psychologically and morally traumatized after becoming victims of fraud, go to Church. The religious and secular rehabilitation centers spend a lot of effort to get these people back to normal life, to deal with their suicidal inclinations, to restore their ruined family happiness," the letter said.
This is why "most often behind many restrictive measures imposed by the state on minority religious groups there is a concern about its citizens' rights and the demands from citizens themselves," the Archbishop said.
The 2009 Report on International Religious Freedom was published by the U.S. Department of State on October 26. The report's section about Russia says that although the religious freedom is fixed in the Russian Constitution and the government generally respects this right, the authorities impose restrictions on a number of groups in certain cases.