Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Moscow Declares War Against the Salvation Army

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma
A Moscow court has set the date of September 11 for a trial into the city's bid to shut down the Salvation Army's activities, renewing concerns about religious freedom in Russia. The Salvation Army, champion of Russia's poor since czarist times, will face certain closure if the city government wins the court case. Critics suspect that the Russian Orthodox Church, which enjoys a conspicuously close relationship with Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow, is behind the campaign to shut it down. The charity is one of only a handful providing emergency aid to the elderly, sick and homeless, but the church is bitterly opposed to the flowering of non-orthodox religions in post-communist Russia and regards the Salvation Army as a cultic religious group. It is desperate to retain what it perceives as its rightful dominance of Russia's religious landscape and to maintain its influence on the State. Last November. Luzhkov refused to grant the Salvation Army a permit to work in Moscow, even though other Russian cities had registered it. The Moscow authorities did not say why, but the Salvation Army said after those hearings that the court had been told that it was a militarized group intent on violent overthrow of the Russian government. Clues to the reasons behind the attempts to close down the charity lie in a controversial law introduced four years ago. It stipulated that all but four mainstream religions must re-register with the authorities. Legislators are thought to have been heavily influenced by the Orthodox Church. (From Crosswalk)

Having been in that area, I can verify that the Russian Orthodox Church wields great power there and will not tolerate even an un-dogmatic group as the Salvation Army to take some territory.

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