- Erik Peacock
- Erik is a public policy professional and owner of the online training course in democracy and civic action: www.3ptraining.com.au The Blog …explores ways to create a sustainable and just community. Explores how that community can be best protected at all levels including social policy/economics/ military. The Book Erik’s autobiography is a humorous read about serious things. It concerns living in the bush, wilderness, home education, spirituality, and activism. Finding Home is available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble and all good e-book sellers.
Thursday, 22 February 2018
Religious Freedom in Russia - open letter to Vladimir Putin
President Vladimir Putin
23, Ilyinka Street
Moscow, 103132, Russia
Dear President Putin
I am a dual British/Australian citizen living in Australia. I am a professional policy analyst working for the Government, and I also teach a course in civics and international relations: (www.3ptraining.com.au).
I write regarding religious freedom in the Russian Federation.
My concern is that the current regulatory regime regarding sects and cults is too restrictive and too subjective when applied to legitimate congregations that do not happen to be Orthodox. I fully understand that Russia may not wish to encourage American sects or extremist groups of various kinds. However the rich 2000 history of the Christian faith, encompassing as it does the first Celtic Christians, Romans, Orthodox, African, and many Protestant confessions, when taken as a whole, is greater and deeper than East/West divisions. It does not lend itself to excessive regulation.
My own local church (http://www.embassychurch.com.au/) is a Pentecostal congregation of less than 50. We meet in a rented a theatre space in the local school. The school is in a poor suburb and we raise money for their uniforms, provide charity for single parents, help provide breakfast for the children, support charity in Kenya, and work with other organisations to save young women from sex trafficking and prostitution. We confess the Bible but are neither Catholic nor Orthodox. We have no presence in Russia but similar churches do. Many are small but focus on the local people rather than buildings. My concern is that they not be overly restricted or subjected to the whims of local officials.
In the bigger context many traditional and conservative people in the West look to Russia for moral leadership. We have, frankly, been betrayed by our national leaders. Australia just legalised homosexual marriage and even speaking critically of this can result in heavy fines. Religious freedom in the West is dying at the hands of cultural Marxism and the disciples of the Frankfurt school. We elected Donald Trump on a policy of friendly relations with Russia. We are not ignorant of the fact that the US supports terrorists to murder our brothers and sisters overseas, and we welcome Russia’s leadership in combating extremism. In that context we are concerned that excessive regulation of Christian groups in Russia is unhelpful.
I myself have never visited Russia but in the late 1950’a my great uncle Bill Smale was given the ‘keys to Leningrad’ in view of his work in the Welsh unions. In high school I wrote on behalf of prisoners of conscience in the USSR. I wrote weekly for a year and a half without receiving a reply. I don’t know if that person lived or died. I deeply respect your commitment to the Orthodox faith and hope to visit Russia in the future.