The Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations
is a Russian
law passed in 1997, signed by President Boris Yeltsin
The law redefined the state's relationship with religion, as Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev
had defined in a 1990 law. After the fall of Communism
, Gorbachev had given much-needed breathing room to the practice of religion in Russia, whose culture's heart is Eastern Orthodoxy, but had also opened the door indescriminately and generally to the practice of religion. A new law was needed, to preserve Russia against what was considered the corruption of Orthodoxy.
The law was formulated and pushed by the Russian Orthodox Church
, secular nationalists, and communists alike, with such determination that though Yeltsin vetoed the bill once, he could not legitimately do so a second time.
Written in the law was the upholding of separation of church and state; that there shall be no state religion. With that in mind, the following definitions and regulations are given:
- religious organizations: at the level of individual church congregations
- religious associations: whole denominations
- religious groups: groups without legal status, such as a bible study group
- Organizations may only be founded by Russian citizens
- this ostensibly provided for national security.
- All associations must have a religious purpose, including:
- a creed,
- regular worship services,
- the conducting of religious education.
- aimed at......