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One step forward, ten steps back

Russia certainly has a colorful history, doesn't it?

It has made so many drastic changes in the past two centuries, some promising, some dangerous.

We had hopes at one time that we would see a more democratic nation that gave more freedoms to the people, but what we've been seeing is a far cry from that.  Here's the latest installment in Russia's strive toward anachronism: 

Putin’s privileging of the Orthodox Church in Russia may go too far, even for the patriarch

Posted: Wed, 09 Jan 2013 14:37

Putin’s privileging of the Orthodox Church in Russia may go too far, even for the patriarch

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a new bill into law that makes religious education mandatory for all schools in the country.

The legislation concerns a course on the fundamentals of religion that will be taught at all schools, the Moscow Times reported, although it did not specify which religions will be discussed in classrooms. The law was approved by the Federation Council on 26 December 2012, and will go into effect on 1 Sept 2013.

Putin, an Orthodox Christian, has been privileging the Russian Orthodox Church, the dominant religion in the country. The Church's leading bishop, Kirill I of Moscow, has often acted as adviser to the president, although that has also sparked some dissatisfaction among Russians who insist that church and state should remain separate.

A protest on this issue by the punk band Pussy Riot in February last year in Moscow's main cathedral led to two members of the band being imprisoned for offending religious feelings. This has led to the pro-Kremlin United Russia party to propose a new law with even more severe punishments for offending religious sentiments.

The proposals have even alarmed Bishop Kirill who welcomed the jailing of Pussy Riot, and he has asked the Kremlin not to go too far.

In remarks published on the eve of Russian Orthodox Christmas, Kirill, who has likened Putin's long rule to a "miracle of God", told the Interfax news agency that Russia needed stiffer punishments for offences against religion.

"A fine of several hundred roubles (about $10) for blasphemous inscriptions on a church, a mosque or a synagogue signals that society does not fully realize the importance of protecting ... religious feelings of believers," he said.

But in his most extensive comment on the proposed law, he said it should not limit citizens' rights.

"Any regulatory acts regarding the protection of religious symbols and the feelings of believers should be scrupulously worked through so that they are not used for improvised limitation of freedom of speech and creative self-expression."

The remarks were in line with indications that Putin, while wanting to make clear that actions such as the Pussy Riot protest are unacceptable, is wary of undermining the balance between religions in the diverse country.

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Do you think that this is a positive step (clearly, I don't)? 

Do you think that "religious feelings" need protection?

Answer Question

Asked by jsbenkert at 9:48 PM on Jan. 9, 2013 in Religious Debate

Level 37 (89,331 Credits)
Answers (12)
  • I am not sure why I should worry about the way Russian's govern their country.

    Answer by Dardenella at 9:54 PM on Jan. 9, 2013

  • Well, let's see . . . this is a debate section, and we talk about all sorts of things.  Some have a direct impact on our lives, some have a possible impact, some are solely for the purpose of exploring ideas.  You don't have to worry about Russia to have an opinion.

    That said, Russia is a major world power.  The tides that turn Russia tend to flow into other nations and affect how other nations are treated and respond, just as the religious fanaticism of the Middle East has had an impact on the rest of the world.

    However, if you don't have an opinion, you don't have to respond at all.  I won't judge you.


    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 9:57 PM on Jan. 9, 2013

  • I have been following the news about the band that was arrested. Most of them (if not all) are moms. They requested that they stay at the prison in Moscow so that their children could visit them. They were shipped off to Siberia. And to answer your question, no I don't think it is a positive step. I don't think religious feelings need protection. I do think the freedom to practice a religion or not practice one needs to be protected, however, that is how Russia does things. We may say that the US is going to shit but if you look at the overall picture, Americans have it made.


    Answer by JeremysMom at 9:58 PM on Jan. 9, 2013

  • I mostly agree, JeremysMom, but there are those in the U.S. (and some with substantial power) who would like to see the same laws applied here.  That worries me.


    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 10:00 PM on Jan. 9, 2013

  • Do you think that "religious feelings" need protection.

    Which religion? I think Christianity should be the only religion to have such privileges to lock people up because it's the only true one right? That's me being sarcastic. Anyway of course not. It's funny to see a specific belief system demand that it should be protected. what about all the other ones?

    Answer by skinnyslokita at 10:06 PM on Jan. 9, 2013

  • There's a lot of this going on lately. Malaysia is considering a ban on allowing anyone but Muslims to use the word "Allah", even though in the native tongue, "allah" is the generic word for "god", just like in Arabic. The Saudis raided a foreign diplomat's home for having a Christmas party (celebrating it is illegal there). Turkey went after tv stations that aired the last Simpsons Halloween special for insulting religion by depicting satan, god and the bible in disrespectful circumstances.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 10:22 PM on Jan. 9, 2013

  • It is frightening to me to consider a world where people are afraid to express themselves.  I think this is how so many of the major religions took hold - there was such censure over what was and what was not allowed, with such severe penalties for "believing the wrong thing" that families would teach whatever kept the children the safest, raising generations to believe something not because it was true, but because it was what allowed you to survive.


    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 10:29 PM on Jan. 9, 2013

  • So tell me again, Russia is not a democracy or a republic, so what kind of government does it have?

    Answer by Dardenella at 12:14 AM on Jan. 10, 2013

  • I'm curious--perhaps religious feelings don't need protection, but do anti-religious feelings need it?

    Answer by Ballad at 12:38 AM on Jan. 10, 2013

  • but do anti-religious feelings need it?

    Ask the children who had their mothers taken away for speaking publicly against the church.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 2:16 AM on Jan. 10, 2013

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