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Viche 2010 15

15, 2010

Anti-Religious Absurdity: Witch Hunting or Encroachment on Religious Freedom?

Since Ukraine received quit liberal Law On the freedom of conscience and religious organizations (in 1991), quite a lot of new religious societies which are incomprehensible and sometimes even suspicious for wide public have appeared in the Gods world. Specialists call such societies new religious motions, and public calls them totalitarian sects or destructive cults. We decided to address to the well known specialists in this sphere theologian and lawyer, so that they answered our questions which worry the society more often.

Our interlocutor is doctor of philosophical sciences, theologian, president of Ukrainian Association of Religious Freedom Viktor YELYENSKYI.

In accordance with the data of the State Committee of Ukraine on the questions of nationalities and religions as of on January, 1 of current year over 33 thousand religious organizations of 55 religion directions operated in Ukraine (over 1800 societies operated without state registration). From them, according to the data of registration, 11704 societies belong to the Ukrainian orthodox church of Moscow patriarchy, to the UOC of Kyiv patriarchy 4251, to the UAOC -1194, Greek-Catholic church 3597, Rome-Catholic 904 societies.

 

Among protestant churches it is possible to mark out Pentecostals (1472 societies), Adventists of the seventh day (1016 societies), Jehovahs Witnesses (676 societies), Mormons (34 societies) etc.

 

It should be noted that statistics of the registered religious societies reflects only the amount of the regulations registered by the state and does not reflect the real amount of believers who stand after these societies. In fact, in order to register one society in accordance with Ukrainian legislation the application signed by ten adult persons will be enough. Consequently, statistics reflects identically both the society of cathedral in the regional center and the society which exists only in regulation documents.

 

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Semen GLUZMAN, psychiatrist and legal advocate;

 

director of the Ukrainian-American bureau on defence of human rights; chairman of Expert Council at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, one of priority tasks of which is the settlement of problem of distribution of drugs in the country; executive secretary of the Association of psychiatrists of Ukraine; director of the International medical rehabilitation center for the victims of war and totalitarian modes (IRC):

 

Every civilized country minimizes the possibilities of influence of psychological techniques on its citizens. For this reason television sessions of various healers like Kashpirovskyi are forbidden everywhere. In particular, in the USA and in France a lot of researches are conducted with the purpose to understand the mechanism of influence of untraditional cults with destructive character of activity on a human being. As a rule, psychologists, instead of psychiatrists, are engaged in these researches. Pursuant to their conclusions people who are in a heavy life situation or people who have lost their usual reference points are easily influenced by this. Type of personality is of less importance here.

 

 

No scale researches on the influence of untraditional cults on the health of people have been conducted till this time in Ukraine. From other side, we can not forbid various new religious practices, as far as Ukraine is a democratic country. Domestic research workers (Lyudmyla Filipovych and others) at their time analyzed the phenomenon of White Fraternity. Presumably, these were the first (and, unfortunately, the last) serious researches in Ukraine, which are not interesting to authorities and legislators. It turns out that our politicians do not need advisers, and their activity is determined not by scientific knowledge, but by very mercantile understanding of good sense.

 

Methods of resisting this evil are known. One of these methods is the obligatory rehabilitation of victims of such cults. In this case psychological and spiritual, and sometimes even legal, social or psychiatric help is required. But... Can it be interesting to the country where there are numerous magicians, wizards, telepathists and other folk healers who get license for medical activity in the special division of the Ministry of Health Protection?

 

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Gennadiy DRUZENKO -  international expert on religious affairs, in particular, in the field of state-church relations, known legislator, translator, publicist.

 

One of the aims of the European Federation of Centers Research and Information on Sectarianism (FECRIS) is to take part in the creation of the European legal field and to notify in advance the official power and international institutions in case there is an activity which deserves on punishment. On the site of federation it is possible also to find the definition of totalitarian organization and sect. Is it a recommendation at its core?

 

Yes. FECRIS due to its status is an international association of non-state organizations and it considers sects to be the negative phenomenon and applies forces to fight against them. As an element of pluralism society such organization is necessary. As long as it does not lay claim to possess the truth at the last instance, and its voice articulates only one of positions in the dialog of many, its activity can be only welcomed, as both brand new and traditional religions are not always and not everywhere appear to be the associations of righteous men. From other side, the Russian model of attitude toward new religious trends propagandized by Dialog center which is headed by the odious Mr. Dvorkin is being actively. The Ukrainian branch of center in Dnepropetrovsk manages to bring in discord not only to Christian environment but also to cause a quarrel between Christian and Muslims, operating by in no way Christian methods.

 

I am deeply convinced that the relations between the state and religious organizations are to be regulated by the same laws which determine the paradigm of relations betwenn the state and public organizations, state and charitable organizations, state and other types of noncommercial organizations. Maybe, there should be some distinctive features which do not change bases of regulation of these relations.