Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1216

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1216

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1217

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1217

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1218

AZERBAIJAN-ARMENIA: “Our holy mission is to keep peace,” Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in Azerbaijan says

In exclusive interview, head of Russian Orthodox Church in Baku invites defeated Armenians into economic cooperation after Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and laments lost ethnic fraternity.


By Jayson Casper


Christianity Today (05.01.2021) – https://bit.ly/3pQw3mq – In November, Christian-heritage Armenia surrendered to Muslim-majority Azerbaijani forces besieging the Caucasus mountain area of Nagorno-Karabakh. The ceasefire agreement ended a six-week war that cost each side roughly 3,000 soldiers and left unsettled the final status of the Armenian-populated enclave they call Artsakh.


Azerbaijan, however, recovered the rest of its internationally recognized territory, including the historic city of Shushi. The first Karabakh war ended in 1994 and displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes on both sides.


Archbishop Alexander, head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Azerbaijan, reached out to CT to promote a process of reconciliation.


It will not be easy.


Azerbaijanis returning to Adgam, left in ruins by Armenian occupation for 25 years, will see for the first time the damage to their city once inhabited by 30,000 people. Its mosque was relabeled “Persian,” while 63 of Nagorno-Karabakh’s 67 mosques are said to be razed to the ground.


Meanwhile, Catholicos Karekin II, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, issued a plea to save the ancient heritage of Armenian church properties lost in the war. In 2005, a gravesite containing sixth-century khatchkar crosses was destroyed in the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakhchivan.


Azerbaijan has pledged to preserve them. But the United Nations’ cultural arm UNESCO stated that its authorities have failed to respond to several requests to deploy an independent fact-finding mission.


Meanwhile, members of Azerbaijan’s Christian Udi minority were dispatched to hold services in the ninth-century Dadivank Monastery. The Udi are related to the Caucasian Albanian Christians, assimilated into other ethnic groups a thousand years ago. But Azerbaijan maintains the churches of the region are actually Albanian, and not Armenian in origin.


International academics find it difficult to examine all the historical sources. But one nonaligned expert stated the theory has “little currency outside of Azerbaijan,” calling it “bizarre.”


Efforts at reconciliation must also overcome the trauma of war.


Azerbaijan stated that 100 civilians were killed in the shelling of populated areas, while Armenia stated at least 55 civilians were killed. Human Rights Watch condemned the use of cluster munitions on both sides.


Amnesty International has similarly documented video footage showing mistreatment of captured soldiers—including decapitations.


Alexander, elevated to archbishop in 2012, is not a neutral peacemaker.


Early in the war, he signed an Azerbaijani interfaith letter congratulating President Ilham Aliyev on his military victories. A later letter pledged that Azerbaijan was not seeking the displacement of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and offered them autonomy.


But after the war, amid claims of Azerbaijan erasing Armenian cultural heritage, a third letter endorsed the Albanian origin of churches and defended the nation’s multireligious character.


Aliyev has since retracted the offer of autonomy.


Of Azerbaijan’s population of 10 million, 96 percent are Muslim—roughly two-thirds Shiite and one-third Sunni. Alexander’s Russian Orthodox represent two-thirds of Christians, while over 15,000 Jews date back to the Old Testament era.


A peacemaker, however, does not need to be neutral, only committed.


Speaking through a translator, Alexander described his experience of past good relations between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, his hope for future economic cooperation, and his present willingness to meet with Catholicos Karekin II.


Read the full interview here.

Further recommended reading:

Six Christian sites Armenia fears it has lost to Azerbaijan


Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1216

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1216

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1217

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1217

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1218

Russian Evangelicals fined for ‘missionary activity’ during pandemic

Offenses include passing out tracts and telling people to invite friends to hear the gospel.


By Daniel Silliman

Christianity Today (26.08.2020)  – https://bit.ly/31IfsYT – Anatoly Chendemerov was handing out tracts that said “You must be born again!” in the Volga Federal District in southeastern Russia. He was fined 6,000 rubles, the equivalent of about $80.


Sergey Krasnov was passing out Christian newspapers and New Testaments in Krasnodar, a city in the South. He was fined 5,000 rubles, or about $65.


Seo Jin Wook, a South Korean, met with about 10 people in a private home in Izhevsk, in the Western Ural Mountains, to talk about the good news of Jesus Christ. He told the people they should come back and bring friends. He was fined 30,000 rubles (about $400) and deported.


In the first six months of 2020, more than 40 people have been punished for violating a Russian anti-missionary law, according to a new report from Forum 18, a religious liberty news service based in Norway. Government lockdowns and pandemic stay-at-home orders did not substantially slow the multiyear crackdown on unauthorized religious activity.


Russia passed a 2015 law that said all religious meeting places needed to be registered. That regulation was followed in 2016 with an anti-missionary law. The bill was labeled as anti-terrorism legislation, meant to prevent foreign extremist from exerting influence in the country. At the time, religious liberty experts said it was hard to predict how the law would be applied and what activity would be prohibited.


“It is broad and vaguely defined,” wrote Travis Wussow, of the Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, in 2016. “Of course, limiting expression and freedom in a vague way is a tried-and-true tool of regimes to stifle speech beyond the language of the law by creating fear of punishment.”


Four years later, the application of the law is clear. Local police, sometimes supported by the Federal Security Service, have fined roughly 100 religious people per year for practicing their faith. Baptists distributing tracts and Muslims teaching people the language skills necessary to read the Qur’an are prime targets, alongside ongoing efforts to completely rid the country of Jehovah’s Witnesses.


So far in 2020, local police have fined a dozen Muslim men for teaching Arabic grammar, according to Forum 18. They have also fined a sectarian Roman Catholic performing a Latin Mass, a Pentecostal holding services in his home, and a dozen Baptists distributing religious literature. Seventy percent of Russians are Orthodox, though only about five percent go to church regularly. Seven percent of people are Muslim and about 2 percent are Protestant—mainly Baptist and Pentecostal.


While the government has been targeting evangelical Christians, the Russian constitution was also amended to include a reference to God, define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and allow President Vladimir Putin to remain in power beyond his fourth term, which ends in 2024. The Russian legislature is also considering a law limiting religious liberty to Russian citizens and permanent residents, banning non-residents from practicing their faith in the country and preventing Russian religious leaders from receiving theological education abroad.


Putin has raised the status of the Russian Orthodox Church in his fourth term and talked about the need to stand strong against secularism and the “chaotic darkness” of the West, which he says is “denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious, and even sexual.” That political program includes clamping down on “foreign religions,” such as Baptists.


“There is a sophisticated narrative … that Russian society and culture are under siege,” Eric Patterson, a scholar in the Robertson School of Government at Regent University, wrote for the conservative website The Blaze, “and that Russia is fortunate to have the bold, determined leadership of Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party to stand up against all forms of foreign influence and aggression.”


The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended targeted sanctions in response to the violations of religious liberty.

Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1261

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1261

Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1262

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1262

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1263