New project: "Religion and Law" information-analytical Internet portal
March 2, 2011
The Slavic Center for Law and Justice (SCLJ) and the Institute of Religion and Law are beginning to implement a large nationwide project for the creation of the “Religion and Law” information-analytical Internet portal on the basis of the SCLJ website (www.sclj.ru). The objective of this project is to support a broad discussion on religious associations within Russia and the role that they play in building civil society in our country.
At present, a wide variety of religious groups are developing throughout Russia. This growth and strengthening is occurring among Christian churches, and the Russian Orthodox Church has been actively developing its social service and cultural work. At the same time, Orthodox Christianity has become a leading force in a number of areas, including public schools, the army, and the mass media. Meanwhile, citizens are willing to and want to learn more about the life of a variety of churches, the kind of work that they are doing, and what they believe in.
It is time to realize that apathy, fear and inaction - these in no way can be considered as Christian qualities capable of driving the faithful back into the closed-mindedness of the Soviet ghetto. In Russia today, there is much more freedom than there ever was previously under the rule of the tsar or during the Soviet era, and we should certainly use this freedom to the benefit of the churches.
We must not sit idly by, simply watching as the faithful are insulted with impunity. We must not resign ourselves to the fact that the rights of Christians to the freedom of conscience and religion are being violated, just as many other laws are also being violated.
Many people think that it is virtually impossible in Russia to make themselves and their views known to society or to reach the media and government officials with their ideas, but the fact is, for God, nothing is impossible. The situation in the country is changing (and in some regions this change is of a more radical nature and not for the better) and it has gotten to the point that it seems to be some kind of battle for the hearts of the people, for our Russian society. It is now such that we - the patriots of this country - will end up losing if we do not make efforts and if we do not achieve a breakthrough.
Christians in Russia today need a powerful information resource, a legal database, consultations with qualified scientists and lawyers, as well as professional journalists, for whom it is possible to adequately present the life of the country’s churches to the public, as well as the work that they are carrying out in the best interests of the people, not to mention the challenges and conflicts that they encounter. This is something that we cannot do without in terms of a modern society. We must make an advance to a new level.
We are appealing to you for your help and support, which is necessary for us to demonstrate the genuine social role that religious organizations are playing in our country, to strengthen the position of the church in Russia, and to change the attitude towards the faithful within society on the whole, in the mass media, and among civil servants.
We are now inviting you to become our partners and colleagues in this project, as well as authors and commentators. Our society clearly lacks an open and free dialogue on problems of a religious and social nature, as well as issues related to church-state relations.
Our main goals and objectives:
- The creation of a rapid response system involving journalists and lawyers regarding church issues with information and legal support, preparing appeals to government authorities, examinations of various publications, etc.;
- The analysis and wide media coverage of conflicts and issues facing the church and of the life of the church so that they became known to the public and to the secular media, so that local officials are not able to silence them and are made fully aware that they must take responsibility for their actions;
- The transformation of the Internet portal into a tool that can be used to promote topics related to the protection of Christians and the general need for churches to maintain a presence in terms of the secular media, the provision of news coverage in plain language so that it can be understood by everyone, and the establishment of a base for gathering public support for churches;
- The representation of the actual religious situation in Russia and the churches’ problems to society, in the secular media, in government, and at various events, including in the State Duma and the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, through participation in discussions and round tables involving the public, organized by the Slavic Center for Law and Justice, the Institute for Religion and Law and our press center. The examination of “anti-sectarian” articles and other materials that may be of an extremist nature or simply offensive to various religious associations and statements made in various publications, which incite religious hatred and enmity;
- The creation of an atmosphere of religious tolerance within society towards people of other faiths, as well as a unified image of the Christian community within Russia, which, along with Orthodox Christians, would also include the Old Believers, Catholics, Protestants and other Christian churches.
Such a community should play a key role in Russia and before it lies unified social and spiritual challenges that are faced in working for the good of the country.