25 November 2010, 16:06
Moscow Patriarchate expects future reports of the USA Department of State will be more objective
*** The Church is ready to held the United States in the question
Moscow, November 25, Interfax - The USA Department of State report on religious freedom in Russia for 2010 lacks objectivity and analytical depth, the Russian Church believes.
"I'd like to wish that in the future the report will have truly equal, friendly attitude to various religious organizations and will avoid selectiveness so that religious situation is reflected more fully," deputy head of the synodal Department for External Church Relations Hegumen Philipp (Ryabykh) said in his interview with Interfax-Religion.
According to him, American reporters need to present different points of view in their document "not only claims of religious minorities to the state or to the religious organizations of the majority, but the opinion of the Russian Church as well".
"We are ready for consultations, for the dialogue on a standing basis. Such a dialogue will help overcome all mentioned defects of the report?" the priest said.
Father Philipp mentioned an essential advantage in the Report 2010: "it gives rather detailed and reliable description of legal norms, state and public measures taken to provide religious freedom and also some events in the country's religious life". Thus, statistic data cited in the report mentions perish of Orthodox priests and damage inflicted to Orthodox churches.
At the same time, Father Philip noted that the report left an impression that democracy and prosperity in the country depend only on the society's ability to provide comfortable conditions for religious minorities or even micro groups of various kinds.
"Freedoms of other part of the society, security, preservation of original national, spiritual and cultural tradition fade at this background. The report considers it least of all," he said.
According to the priest, the situation with religious education is covered "absolutely tendentiously" and information that the Russian Church urged to stop Darwinism in schools is presented in "a negative way".
"It's worth mentioning that in the past the United States gave an opportunity to priests on Freedom Radio to expose scientific dogmas of the Soviet system and Darwinism in particular," the interviewee of the agency said.
The priest calls it "unfortunate" that actions of the government taken to overcome consequences of Soviet times and injustice to religious organizations, and support given to these actions by traditional religions "are presented negatively." It refers to giving religious organizations in ownership or use religious property.
Besides, the report focuses on religious rights of minorities and "blames Orthodox public organizations for their criticism against actions of religious minorities." At the same time, according to Father Philip, it doesn't mention that the latter sometimes have very critical or even aggressive position against the Russian Church, it's enough to analyze speeches of some religious leaders of the country, "but such speeches are not mentioned in the report."
The report is critical about the fact that the Russian Church has more opportunities to reach the society and cooperates with the state, but even "the reporters say that about hundred million Russians call themselves Orthodox." The priest believes it is impossible to cooperate with religious minorities to the same degree as "it will be out of proportions to their presence in the society and infringe rights of the citizens who adhere to the religion of majority."
The report expresses concerns over the growth of the Russian Church political influence and it is presented as violation of religious freedom. It points out to the cooperation with the United Russia party, other political parties and institutes of the country.
"But it makes me wonder why such interaction is evaluated negatively: in the United States political forces actively cooperate with religious organizations, politicians speak at religious meetings and it is a democratic process when the country's major political forces build a dialogue with religious organizations," the Russian Church official stressed.
The Department of State believes that another example of religious freedom violation is the fact that Christmas is a state holiday and the new memorial date - Day of Russia's Baptism was introduced in the calendar and the Day of Slavic Scripture and Culture is widely celebrated. However, it only vaguely mentions that main Islamic feasts are officially celebrated in some Russian regions.
"Such information is not full as for example some Buddhist regions celebrate Buddhist feasts... Besides, such attitude to Christmas is absolutely unclear as this feast as well as some other Christian feasts is a state holiday in the States," the priest said.
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