World View: Russian Duma Goes After Protestant Churches as ‘Sects and Cults’


This morning’s key headlines from

  • Russian Duma goes after Protestant churches as ‘sects and cults’
  • Central African Republic elections may worsen Muslim-Christian violence

Russian Duma goes after Protestant churches as ‘sects and cults’

Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church

The fall of Constantinople and the Orthodox Christian Byzantine Empire to the Muslim Ottomans in 1453 triggered a major turning point in Russia. Russia would become an Orthodox Christian state, and the protector of Jerusalem from the Ottomans.

The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was a bloody repudiation of that decision, resulting in the near-destruction of the Russian Orthodox Church and the declaration that Russia and the Soviet Union were an atheist state. The Russian Orthodox Church only began to seriously revive again during World War II, when Josef Stalin discovered that he needed the help of the Church to fight the Nazis. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Vladimir Putin has led the way for the full restoration of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia and Russia’s government. (See “Russian Orthodox Church reunites 80 years after Bolshevik Revolution” from 2007.)

In 1997, Russia enacted the Freedom of Conscience Law, which enacted separation of church and state, making Russia a secular state, not an atheist state, with freedom of religion. Since then, the law has been amended so much that there is little freedom of religion now, except for the Russian Orthodox Church.

Now Russia’s Duma is going farther. Led by Abbot Serapion, the deputy head of the Church’s missionary department, the Duma is considering going after “sects and destructive cults” which challenge Russia’s national security.

In the past, “destructive totalitarian sects” referred to Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists, the Unification Church (Moonies), and Hare Krishna, and were thought to be undermining the state.

But today, the main enemies, according to Serapion, are the “Protestants (Christians – Baptists, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Adventists), Jehovah’s Witnesses, in the company of neopagans and Wahhabi extremists.” While the Russian Orthodox Church fully supported the invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, many of these “sects and cults” opposed the Ukraine actions, making them enemies of the state.

According to the new proposed amendments to the 1997 law, any group of ten or more believers must notify the authorities of their existence, lists of members, meeting places, and the amount of income.

It appears that Russia is abandoning its secular identity and returning to its traditional identity prior to the Bolshevik Revolution — a Russian Orthodox state.

In the current world, there’s talk of an Islamic State, a Muslim state, a Jewish state, a Palestinian state, a Hindu state, and so forth. So a Russian Orthodox state fits right into this increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic world as the generational Crisis era deepens. Eurasia Review – Paul Goble and Slavic Center for Law and Justice (SCLJ) – Roman Lunkin – Part I translation and Part II translation and CNS News

Central African Republic elections may worsen Muslim-Christian violence

Central African Republic (CAR) voted on a new constitution on Sunday, but there were many problems with the referendum, and combined with the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for on 27 December, it is feared that the elections will cause more anger and more violence. Heavy gunfire has already broken out in the Muslim district of Bangui, the capital city, during the referendum.

It was just two weeks ago that Pope Francis visited Bangui to propose “a renewed attention to the idea of a respectful urban integration, as opposed to elimination, paternalism, indifference or mere containment.” ( “28-Nov-15 World View — Pope Francis to visit Central African Republic in middle of civil war”)

The two elections were supposed to be the mechanism by which this “respectful urban integration” would take place — that is, the Muslims and the Christians would stop killing each other.

However, the elections have already been postponed from the original scheduled date of October 27, and they are still fraught with severe problems:

  • François Bozizé, who was president of CAR for ten years, is being prevented from running, as has Patrice Edouard Ngaissona, a prominent Christian militia leader. Both Bozizé and Ngaissona have been sanctioned by the United Nations for supporting violence in the past, but without them running, their supporters may use violence to sabotage the election.
  • Some 460,000 CAR citizens are in refugee camps across the border in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cameroon, Chad and Congo-Brazzaville. Unelected interim president Catherine Samba Panza tried to exclude them from voting, even though they are mostly Muslims who have been driven out of the country, reinforcing the sectarian narrative that Muslims, which make up about 15% of the population, do not belong in the CAR. Finally the transitional government was forced to allow them to participate from outside the country.
  • According to some estimates, only 60% of the electorate are registered to vote, despite government claims that 95% are registered.
  • Much of the country is under the effective control of armed groups, both Christian and Muslim, that may interfere with the voting. For example, Nourredine Adam, the leader of a major Muslim faction, has said that elections cannot go ahead in the areas under his influence.
  • On Sunday, CAR’s voters are expected to approve or reject a new constitution about which they know almost nothing. Similarly, they know almost nothing about the 42 candidates who will run for president on December 27.
  • Interim president Samba Panza, who will leave office on December 31, is seen by some “as a venal and incompetent liability.”
  • France has been accused of rushing the elections so that they can remove their peacekeeping force. According to one analyst, “The French were thinking about their exit strategy the moment they set foot in the CAR. They want to secure the electoral process and then immediately send away the troops.”

As I’ve written in detail several times in the past ( “2-Oct-15 World View — Violence resurges in Central African Republic crisis war”), CAR is deep into a generation Crisis era and in the middle of a generational crisis war. A new constitution is little more than a piece of paper, and it’s not going to stop the huge generational forces that are pushing the Muslims and Christians into this war of mutual extermination. The war will not end until it’s run it’s course, and apparently still has a long way to go. BBC and African Arguments Forum

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Duma, Vladimir Putin, Freedom of Conscience Law, Russian Orthodox Church, Abbot Serapion, Pope Francis, Central African Republic, François Bozizé, Patrice Edouard Ngaissona, Catherine Samba Panza, Nourredine Adam
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