Alliance Defending Freedom: It’s days away: The Supreme Court’s marriage decision is expected to come down on June 29.
Interfax Religion: Members of all State Duma factions have supported a bill allowing only state-run healthcare institutions to perform abortions and cancelling mandatory health insurance coverage for abortions.
Institute for Religious Freedom: “Our people survived [deportation by] Stalin,” commented a manager of ATR, which, until April 1, was the only Crimean Tatar television station left. “Will they not survive these current problems?” Russian authorities had just shut it down—along with other media outlets—by refusing to register it under Moscow’s complex religion laws.
ADF International: ADF International filed a brief with the European Court of Human Rights Thursday that makes legal arguments in defense of unborn children. The court granted ADF International permission to intervene in the case of Lia Shioshvili, a Georgian national who gave birth to a stillborn child after Russian authorities mistreated her.
Forum 18: Communities who exercise freedom of religion or belief in public without Russian state permission may find their members facing five-figure Rouble fines if they do not inform the local authorities in advance, Forum 18 News Service notes.
Over 60 churches hit by fighting in Ukraine, Russian Patriarch Kirill demands end of Christian persecution
The Christian Post: Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill revealed that over 60 churches were recently damaged by heavy fighting in the Donetsk and Horlivka dioceses in Ukraine. The patriarch called for an end to the bloodshed between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels, which he said has led to suffering and persecution of Christians.
Life Site News: In the first-ever speech by a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Duma, Patriarch Kirill has called on the Russian government to build on its support for the family and traditional marriage by defunding abortion in the country, with the objective of eliminating the killing of pre-born children altogether.
Religion News Service (Reuters): Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill called on Thursday for a deep cut in the “horrifyingly high” number of abortions, which he linked to a Western rejection of moral norms.
Forum 18 News Service: Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to be targeted by law enforcement operations aimed at combating “extremism”, Forum 18 News Service notes. Seizures of religious literature, mostly during raids or detentions, frequently result in prosecutions under Article 20.29 of the Administrative Code (mass distribution of extremist material). These are based on the possession of literature which has been ruled “extremist” by courts and thereby prohibited from distribution in the Russian Federation.
The Interpreter: Despite a dramatic decline in the number of abortions in the Russian Federation since 1991 and claims that it has overcome “the culture of abortion” as the primary means of birth control, nearly one third – some 29.3 percent – of Russian pregnancies still are being aborted.
Christianity Today: While a campaign in China to de-Christianize city skylines has drawn the most international attention this summer, Pew Research Center recently calculated the world’s 34 countries with the most government destruction of religious property(as of 2012). Three countries topped the list, with 100 or more incidents: China, Russia, and Tajikistan.
China and Russia top governments responsible for damaging, vandalizing churches, mosques, says new study
The Christian Post: The Chinese, Russian and Tajikistan governments bore responsibility for the destruction of over 100 houses of worship in their respective countries in 2012.
RT: “The head of the Russian Pensioners’ Party has come up with an initiative to change the Constitution and define marriage as only being between a man and a woman. Igor Zotov, who is also a Lower House MP on the ticket of the center-left Fair Russia Party has explained his move by his assertion that Russia’s traditional values were under threat from the latest modern tendencies.”
CNN Political Ticker: “Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law that makes it illegal to tell children about gay rights is linked to the nation’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea, Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday night. Speaking at a gala in Los Angeles for the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, Biden suggested countries that don’t respect the rights of gays, lesbians and transgender people also disregard borders.”
National Catholic Register: “As the Russian president signed a bill to annex Crimea Tuesday, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the peninsula has been experiencing what a Church official calls ‘total persecution.’”
Wall Street Journal: “The decree, signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and posted on the government’s website Thursday, also reiterates a ban on adoptions by same-sex couples who are in unions ‘recognized as marriages and registered in accordance with the law of a country where such marriages are permitted.’”
AP: “‘We must all raise our voices against attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people,’ he said. ‘We must oppose the arrests, imprisonments and discriminatory restrictions they face.’”
AP: “A U.N. committee on children’s rights urged Russia on Wednesday to repeal its law banning pro-gay ‘propaganda’ that could be accessible to minors, arguing that the legislation encourages discrimination and even violence.”
AP: “U.S. Olympic Committee sponsor AT&T has condemned a Russian law restricting gay-rights activity as Sochi prepares to host the Winter Olympics.”
York Daily Record (AP): “White House spokesman Shin Inouye said that the delegation ‘represents the diversity that is the United States’ and that Obama was proud to cheer America’s athletes on at the 2014 Olympic Games.”
Russia Beyond the Headlines: “Although during the last five years, the number of abortions in the country has decreased, it has not yet made much impact on Russia’s population growth. To address the issue, the Health Ministry plans to focus on setting up crisis centers for pregnant women and providing them with psychological help.”
Robert P. George, president of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), at The Hill: These prisoners of conscience have been unjustly barred from enjoying the most basic human rights enshrined in the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and other international instruments and standards.
Ecumenical News: “The head of the Russian Orthodox Church says security and religious freedom of Christians in the Middle East must be ensured along with the security and religious freedom of the other citizens in Syrian society.”
Washington Times: “Responding to a question from an Olympics volunteer during a visit in the Black Sea resort city, Putin vowed that gays face no discrimination in Russia and could feel ‘at ease.’ But he emphasized that because of the new Russian law, they cannot express their views on gay rights issues to anyone under age.”
LA Times: “The International Olympic Committee official who supervised the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, criticized the United States on Wednesday for including openly gay athletes in its official delegation to Sochi, Russia, next month.”
Ria Novosti: “Russia has mounted a diplomatic offensive against ‘gay propaganda,’ accusing the EU in a new report of trying to promote an ‘alien view of homosexuality and same-sex marriages as a norm of life.’”
Washington Times: “American journalist David Satter has been kicked out of Russia, raising questions about whether the former Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times was expelled in retribution for his criticism of President Vladimir Putin in the run-up to the Olympic Games, CNN reported.”
Catholic Culture: The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has issued a statement on the baptism of infants born to surrogate mothers.
Christian Concern: A law banning advertisements promoting abortion has been signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Houston Chronicle: Two suicide bombings in as many days have killed 31 people and raised concerns that Islamic militants have begun a terrorist campaign in Russia that could stretch into the Sochi Olympics in February. Russian and international Olympic officials insisted the site of the games, protected by layers of security, is completely safe.
Buzz Feed: The Human Rights Campaign announced Thursday it is contributing $100,000 to the Russia Freedom Fund, an initiative created to support of the LGBT movement’s fight against discrimination and anti-LGBT laws in the country.
Religion Clause Blog: RAPSI reported yesterday that in Russia, the Krasnodar Territorial Court has reversed the controversial ruling by the Novorossiisk District Court that had banned an abridged Russian translation of the Qur’an by Azerbaijani philosopher Elmir Kuliyev.
AP: President Barack Obama sent Russia a clear message about its treatment of gays and lesbians with who he is – and isn’t – sending to represent the United States at the Sochi Olympics.
Pat Buchanan at CNSNews: Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative? In the culture war for mankind’s future, is he one of us? While such a question may be blasphemous in Western circles, consider the content of the Russian president’s state of the nation address. With America clearly in mind, Putin declared, “In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered.”
Milena Faustova at Voice of Russia: The Christian civilization is in great danger. Today about 100 million followers of the teachings of Jesus Christ are being persecuted. People are suffering or sometimes even dying for their faith not only in the countries of the Middle East, Northern and Southern Africa but also in South East Asia – regions that are essentially non-Christian. The believers in Europe and America, i.e. residents of the states where the adoption of Christianity in the past determined their development and formation, increasingly often face anti-religious prosecution.
AP: President Vladimir Putin cast Russia Thursday as a defender of conservative values against the “genderless and infertile” Western tolerance that he said equates good and evil.
Reuters: President Vladimir Putin tightened his control over Russia’s media on Monday by dissolving the main state news agency and replacing it with an organization that is to promote Moscow’s image abroad.
Forum 18: Russian state officials have accused Baptists, Hare Krishna devotees, Jews, Lutherans and Pentecostals of “extremism” in recent years, Forum 18 News Service notes. But such accusations are not at present routinely turning into “extremism” prosecutions of people exercising freedom of religion or belief, unless they are Jehovah’s Witnesses or Muslim readers of theologian Said Nursi.
Moscow Times: A court in Arkhangelsk has found two LGBT activists guilty of promoting “non-traditional” relationships to minors and fined each of them 4,000 rubles ($120).
UPI: The decision by the Constitutional Court dismissed a complaint by gay rights campaigner Nikolai Alexeyev, who said the St. Petersburg city council acted unconstitutionally when it passed an ordinance banning the promotion of homosexuality among minors.
LifeNews: As abortions decimate the Russian population, Russian President Vladimir Putin has sign into law a new measure that bans advertising abortions. From a report on the ban:
RT.com: Center left MP Yelena Mizulina, known for her pro-life stance and conflicts with leaders of the LGBT community, has suggested amending the constitution emphasizing the exclusive role of the Russian Orthodox Church.
AP: Russia’s media oversight agency aims to take a newspaper to court over an article about a homosexual teacher in what appears to be the first case prepared against a publication under the country’s law on gay propaganda.
CNSNews: Although the U.S. State Department recently singled out Russia by name to criticize its law prohibiting homosexual propaganda aimed at youth, the same State Department refused to comment on Saudi Arabia where homosexual conduct is punishable by death.
Fox News: China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam are among the nations running unopposed for seats on the Human Rights Council, the U.N.’s highest rights watchdog body, a prospect that has independent human rights groups crying foul.
LifeSiteNews: U.S. athletes who want to participate in the Olympics must now take a vow that they will not engage in “discrimination” based on “sexual orientation.”
Forum 18: After two separate raids on 8 August on the homes of Muslims in Russia’s Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, an “extremism” criminal case has been opened against a 48-year-old Muslim woman who state officials refuse to name.
Inquirer News: The suspected bomber was from the North Caucasus, a region in southern Russia where an Islamic insurgency has been simmering for more than a decade following two separatist wars in Chechnya.
Reuters: President Vladimir Putin accused foreign rivals on Tuesday of using radical Islam to weaken Russia and appealed to Muslim clerics to help reduce tensions after a deadly suicide bombing and nationalist riots.
Daniel Pipes: Not only do ethnic Muslims account for 21-23 million of Russia’s total population of 144 million, or 15 percent, but their proportion is fast growing. Alcoholism-plagued ethnic Russians are said to have European birth rates and African death rates, with the former just 1.4 per woman and the latter 60 years for men. In Moscow, ethnic Christian women have 1.1 child.
AP: The U.S. Olympic Committee board revised its non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation, a nod to its disapproval of the Russian anti-gay law recently passed by the Olympic host country.
Interfax: “Policies are pursued that put large families and same-sex partnerships in the same category, belief in God and belief in Satan. Excesses of political correctness reach the point where there are serious discussions on the registration of parties that have propaganda of pedophilia as their objective. People in many European countries are ashamed and afraid of speaking about their religion, holidays are abolished or given other names, names that shyly conceal the nature of those holidays, and aggressive attempts are made to force this model on the rest of the world,” Putin said.
Interfax: The first person of “the most peaceful trend in Islam” again urged to aggressive actions against Christians. It evidently proves that official Wahhabism-Salafism is identical to the ideology of terrorists, who are in fact destroying Christian churches and their parishioners from Pakistan to Nigeria, working especially hard in Syria,” Silantyev told Interfax-Religion.
Forum 18: “It is a provocational decision – to destroy, and not just confiscate, the Holy Book of Muslims (..) and the court case and decision took ten minutes?!” Mufti Ravil Gainutdin of Russia’s Council of Muftis wrote to President Vladimir Putin after a Novorossiisk court banned as “extremist” and ordered destroyed a widely-used Russian translation of the Koran. “Muslims are angered by this lawlessness.”
Turtle Bay and Beyond: Russians are considering an increase to the divorce tax by some 7500% (from $13-$941 US)according to Forbes.com’s tax girl Kelly Phillips-Erb. The plan could render 19 billion rubles ($595 million US).
AP: The International Olympic Committee has dismissed concerns over Russia’s law banning gay propaganda, saying it doesn’t violate the Olympic charter’s anti-discrimination clause, and pronounced Russia ready to host the 2014 Winter Games.
Religion Clause Blog: In Russia last week, the Novorossiysk Oktyabrsky District Court ruled that a translation of the Qur’an into Russian by Azerbaijani philosopher Elmir Kuliyev should be banned under the federal law barring extremist materials, and that copies of it should be destroyed.
AP: Putin on Thursday maintained that the law bans only “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.” He argued that it is “no infringement on the rights of sexual minorities” and insisted that European laws allowing gay marriage contribute to population declines.
LifeNews: A foreign policy expert says Russia is falling apart culturally because as much as two percent of the nation’s potential population is victimized by abortion every year.
WorldNetDaily: Officials with MassResistance.com are reporting that an activist for the pro-LGBT agenda, Patrick Burke, addressed a meeting of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. t was during the “Out on the Playing Field” seminar that Burke said, “We’re going to have three weeks of sustained media presence there. We are going to have out LGBT athletes there. We are going to have very vocal and visible allies there. We’ve spoken with the Canadian and U.S. hockey teams. We’re going to be doing work with both of those teams.”
Guardian: Fifa’s new anti-discrimination taskforce is to urge football’s world governing body to pressure Russia and Qatar, the World Cup hosts in 2018 and 2022, to relax anti-gay legislation.
The Hill: President Obama will back a United Nations effort to secure Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, the White House said Tuesday.
Politico: White House and State Department officials said Monday they’re open to proposals by Russia to put Syria’s stocks of chemical weapons under international control, but that such talk is no reason for the U.S. to back away from President Barack Obama’s threat of a military strike.
Breitbart: In a surprise move, Russia promised Monday to push its ally Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control and then dismantle them quickly to avert U.S. strikes.
Reuters: Russia and the international peace envoy for Syria warned on Friday that U.S. military action against Syria would be illegal without U.N. Security Council approval and would undermine the chances for a political solution to the conflict.
Yahoo (Reuters): The International Olympic Committee will consider taking action against pole vault world champion Yelena Isinbayeva, a Youth Olympics ambassador, after her comments in favour of Russia’s new gay law triggered a major controversy last month.
Vatican Information Service: To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution. Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community. Moreover, all governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders”.
AP: “I assure you that I work with these people, I sometimes award them with state prizes or decorations for their achievements in various fields,” Putin said in an interview with The Associated Press and Russia’s state Channel 1 television late Tuesday. “We have absolutely normal relations, and I don’t see anything out of the ordinary here.”
AP: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights activists said Tuesday they have been invited to meet with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of this week’s Group of 20 summit in Russia.
C-FAM: A statement from civil society affirms the recently enacted Russian law, which imposes fines on individuals and groups that promote homosexuality among minors, as important steps towards fulfilling international obligations towards the family and minors. Organizations from around the world are “rushing” to offer their support according to Profesionales por la Etica, the Spain based organization coordinating the effort. In just one week 71 organizations have offered their support.
Moscow Patriarchate: acting as “international executioners,” the US is sacrificing Muslims and Christians in Syria
AsiaNews.it: “Once again,” Hilarion warned, “thousands of lives will be sacrificed on the altar of an imaginary democracy;” among them, according to the Metropolitan, there are, first of all, “Christians, about whose fate no one cares.”
RT.com: A group of activists connected with the Russian Orthodox Church are setting up a center against atheist extremism which, according to them, is promoted mainly by foreign-sponsored organizations.
Politico: Sen. Barbara Boxer sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday urging him to repeal laws restricting rights of LGBT individuals in Russia.
CBS News: In a news conference on Sunday, Mutko appeared to liken homosexual relations to substance abuse. “We want to protect our children whose psyches have not formed from the propaganda of drug use, drunkenness and non-traditional sexual relations,” Mutko said.