Available in Russian
Author: Anastasiya Isaeva
Keywords: freedom of conscience; religious organizations; secular state; миссионерская деятельность; религиозный экстремизм
Missionary activity is a form of promoting religious beliefs based on the constitutionally affirmed freedom of conscience. In 2016, some new amendments to the Russian legislation on freedom of conscience and religious organizations were adopted to improve the regulation of missionary work and allegedly to combat religious extremism. However, the contents of these new legal norms drew many complaints from the scientific community and religious organizations. This article is a comparative survey that considers contemporary forms of relationships between states and religions and their influence on constitutional and other aspects of regulating the missionary work of religious organizations and communities within the borders of the former Soviet Union. Based on a comparative legal analysis of foreign legislation in this field, this paper defines possible paths for regulating missionary work in various models of fortifying freedom of conscience and the right of individuals to spread their religion in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The author identifies the basic legal uncertainties in regulating the life of religious communities in Russia. The author also shows differences in the positions and attitudes of the state toward religious organizations that are historically rooted in Russia (e.g. the Russian Orthodox Church) and those that are not (e.g. certain Protestant confessions). A main problem identified in the article is the designation of missionary work and the realization of the constitutional right of religious groups to spread their teachings. The author finds it necessary to institute some form of legal regulation of missionary work in Russia in the context of the proselytization problem. This work notes the ineffectiveness and contradictory nature of the amendments adopted last year: these changes could lead to violations of both citizen and human rights.
About the author: Anastasiya Isaeva – Candidate of Science (Ph.D.) in Law, Senior Lecturer, Law Institute of the Tomsk State University, Tomsk, Russia.
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