Russian Protestants Request Clarification
Secret-Service head warns of religious „sects“
M o s c o w –The “Advisory Council of Leaders of the Protestant Churches of Russia” has resolved to ask the Russian FSB secret service for clarification. Its Moscow sessions on 7 June deliberated on the fact that FSB-head Nikolai Patrushev and Justice Minister Yuri Chaika had recently warned in public statements of dangerous religious and Protestant “sects”. Pastor Vitaly Vlasenko, head of external relations for the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (RUECB) explained: “These men did not specify which kind of sects they are talking about. We would like to know that, for otherwise their statements cast a negative light on all of us Protestants.”
Only the day before a Baptist pastor in the town of Uzlavaya near Tula was forced to break off preparations for a Christian open-air-festival. Anonymous individuals in civilian clothes had threatened to violently halt the event and burn down its tent. Vlasenko added that such developments cause confusion, for they stand in stark contrast to the excellent, top-level relations between Russian Orthodoxy and the RUECB.
At these sessions, Sergei Melnikov from the Church Affairs Office in the administration of the Russian President explained the position of his government regarding the introduction of Orthodox religious instruction as a required, non-elective topic in schools. Russia regards itself as a secular state. For this reason the guest described the federal government’s position as deliberate and cautious. Moscow is watching regional developments closely.
The Advisory Council has existed since 1998 and consists of the heads of four Protestant denominations: the RUECB, the 7th-Day Adventists, the Pentecostal “Russian Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith” and the charismatic “United Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith”. Lutherans and certain mission initiatives participate as observers. The Council convenes on the first Thursday of every second month.
Dr. William Yoder
Department for External Church Relations, RUECB
Moscow, 08 June 2007
A press release of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. May be published freely. Release #07-15, 290 words.