23 Dec 2019 13:05

U.S. Department of State report on freedom of religion in Russia not worthy of attention - Russian Orthodox Church

MOSCOW. Dec 23 (Interfax) - The conclusions drawn by the United States Department of State, which has kept Russia on the list of violators of freedom of religion, are redundant, a Russian Orthodox Church official said.

Deputy head of the Synodal Department for the Church's Relations with Society and Mass Media Vakhtang Kipshidze spoke about the recent speech by U.S. Attorney General William Barr regarding the threats to religious freedom posed by Orthodox secularism, which is a weapon used for pressuring believers.

"This high-ranking lawyer was perfectly right to say that a true threat to religious freedom comes from the ideology of secularism, which is intolerant of everything, no matter where it is forced on people, not from states. And he mentioned situations when American Christians become victims of this ideology," Kipshidze told Interfax on Monday.

Barr's opinion reflects the opinion of many U.S. citizens who were raised Christian, if not a majority, Kipshidze said. "And that opinion deserves respect, unlike some special lists of the Department of State, which residents of the United States and Russia have never heard of and will never hear of and which essentially do not pose interest to anyone except their authors," he said.

The U.S. Department of State said at the end of last week that it had decided to keep Russia on the list of countries that cause concerns with regard to violations of freedom of religion.

The U.S. Department of State said in its communique that the U.S. had left Russia, Uzbekistan, and the Comoros Islands on the so-called Special Watch List of countries that commit or turn a blind eye to serious violations of freedom of religion. Cuba, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Sudan have been added to the list. Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, as in the previous year, remain on the Special Watch List.