The Russian Orthodox Church has welcomed a bill inspecting religious organizations on the subject of foreign financing and extremism. The document was approved by the relevant State Duma committee on June 16.
"The bill was discussed in detail with representatives of many Russian religious organizations, in some cases the dialogue was difficult, but our Church is grateful to the government staff and the Justice Ministry for taking into account the multiple suggestions of the religious communities," the head of the Synodal Department for Church-Society Relations, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, told Interfax.
He said he hopes a couple of practical issues will be discussed between the first and second readings.
"But for me it is obvious: those religious organizations that are well-rooted in Russia have taken a peaceful and patriotic stance, are not dependent, including financially, on foreign organizations and have every reason to be trusted and supported by the state," the priest said.
Today, the danger of impact of pseudo-religious extremism and destructive outside forces on the religious life in Russia is "very great" and so the government and public "have every reason to know every detail as to who is trying to exert outside influence on the religious and religious-public process within our country, and why," the priest said.
"I am not even talking about the need to track down terrorists and extremists and the importance of countering their activities," he said.
In the event of a confirmed extremist or terrorist danger, it is necessary to check not only registered religious organizations, but also religious groups and public and commercial entities whose offices are used for dubious worship, prayers and studying some religious and quasi-religious doctrines.
Asked whether the Russian Orthodox Church gets funding from abroad, the priest denied any knowledge. "Our dioceses in the CIS countries normally have no money to support the central church in Moscow, and as for those outside the CIS, our Church itself has been helping them for many years," he said.
The foreign-agent bill is "no threat" to the Russian Orthodox Church, nor to "the overwhelming majority of Russian religious organizations," the priest said.
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