Religion and Politics

The Complexity and Duplicity of Deciphering the New Ukrainian Law on Religion

by Anatoliy Babynskyi

Ukraine kiev church

The problem of conversions between religious communities has existed in Ukraine  since the late 1980s and early 1990s,  when the country was struggling for independence and its religious map was being formed. The rise from the underground of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church (UGCC) raised questions about the restitution of property lost as a result of the forced liquidation of the Church in 1946, when almost all Church property had been transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). The resurgence of the underground Greco-Catholics coincided with the revival of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). This meant that conflicts over property arose not only among Greco-Catholics and Orthodox, but also within the Orthodox Church between the Ukrainian Exarchate of the ROC, which was renamed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in 1990, and the UAOC. In 1992, part of the UOC—including Metropolitan Filaret Denisenko—merged with part of the UAOC, which resulted in a third Ukrainian Orthodox denomination: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP), which, like the UAOC, is not recognized by the rest of the Orthodox world. The emergence of another Orthodox jurisdiction led to a new wave of parish conversions.

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On Religious Freedom, Is Russia the Next Saudi Arabia?

by Hannah Gais

Russia

As Donald Trump’s newly-minted administration struggles to adhere to a concise foreign policy, an independent commission has thrown yet another cog in its long-lost dream of a productive relationship with the “very smart” Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a recently released annual report issued by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)—an independent federal commission tasked with advising the State Department and other policymakers on matters of religious freedom—one country name stuck out like a sore thumb among the organization’s list of countries of particular concern (CPC): Russia. Continue Reading…

For God’s Sake, Hands Off!

by Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis

Trump Bible

In fourth-century Constantinople, an archbishop named Gregory contemplated why God was so silent before the immorality and corruption in politics. Why, he wondered, did God resemble a sleeping lion? But of course a sleeping lion can be awakened and antagonized. We have waited and watched as presidential executive orders and congressional actions, such as those below, provide photo-ops and reason for elation in some quarters, while cause for concern in others.

1) The administration has taken action in purported support of coal miners. It should be considered admirable to stand in solidarity with the hardest, health-risking jobs of blue-collar supporters of the president. But can one honestly say that human compassion is the true motivation when weighed against the loss of clean water and air for millions of people resulting from deregulation that allows mining runoff in streams and coal plants to emit more carbons? Continue Reading…