Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What's the Latest Development?

Russia's Duma (parliament) is considering adding an entry to its Criminal Code that will criminalize anti-religious expression. The law would punish insulting feelings of religious believers with a fine of up to $10,000 and three years in prison, while insulting holy sites such as churches and mosques would carry a stiffer penalty. Religious groups, especially the Russian Orthodox Church, are happy about the proposed law, especially since it gives government backing to their ongoing attempts to protest those who they feel slander religious teachings, such as creators of modern art. For example, one designer is currently being sued by the church for a blog post.

What's the Big Idea?

The Duma cites recent events, including the Pussy Riot scandal and the outrage over the film "The Innocence of Muslims," as motivations for the law. However, since (as of right now) the law applies equally to all religions, smaller groups such as the Seventh-Day Adventists are more than ready to use the law to their advantage. One gallery owner states, "I have seen several videos where Orthodox believers destroy the small bookshops of Seventh-Day Adventists or chase Hare Krishna followers. I am sure that the first suits will come from the ‘small religions’ and will be against the Hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church."

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