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Russia should not follow US church-state model, says leading Orthodox official

July 31, 2014

A leading official of the Russian Orthodox Church has told the Interfax news agency that the United States’ model of church-state relations is “not correct” and that Russia should make no apologies for its preferential support of some religions.

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the chairman of the Synodal Department for the Cooperation of Church and Society of the Moscow Patriarchate, made his remarks after the US State Department issued its annual International Religious Freedom Report. As the report was issued, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Russian government “has used a succession of ever more punitive laws against what they call extremism to justify crude measures against people of faith.”

“That model of the state detachment from key religious and public questions, which America formally sticks to, is marginal to the contemporary world: [the] majority of peoples perceives relations between religion, state and society in a different way,” said the archpriest.

“We have the same right to say that the American system of relations between religion and state is not correct and needs changes,” he added. “It doesn't make sense to extend excuses: preferable support of Orthodoxy, traditional Islam, Judaism, Buddhism-- is the choice of our people and this choice is more correct than the American one. However, people of the USA has the right to make any choice for themselves, as well as we have the right for our own.”

The archpriest also criticized the State Department report for ignoring “systematic Christianophobia as a special phenomenon practiced in some countries of the West.”


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