The Atheists of Russia movement has held its founding convention in Moscow, setting its primary goal as resistance to the growing influence of religion and appointing an activist from a vocal leftist party as its leader.
According to Interfax about 300 people from 50 regions across Russia took part in the founding convention. They declared that their group will fight against the influence of religious institutions on society.
“Believers and atheists must have equal rights, the state has no right to interfere with the activities of any church, but the same applies to religions – they have no right to interfere with the affairs of the state,” the newly appointed leader of the movement, Ilya Ulianov, told reporters on Friday.
I wish them all the best, and if there are ways to help, I will. The Russian Orthodox church won’t give a fraction of an inch willingly. In related news, the rarely publicized, but ongoing actual persecution of atheists continues:
Should it be a crime to deny the existence of God?
In the Russian city of Stavropol, Viktor Krasnov, a 38-year-old man, faces trial, charged with publicly insulting Orthodox Church believers by supporting atheism in social media. For proclaiming in a heated Internet exchange “there is no God,” Krasnov was confined for a month to a local hospital for psychiatric evaluation. If convicted under Russia’s blasphemy law, enacted in 2013 and making it illegal to “insult the religious convictions or feelings of citizens,” he may spend up to a year in prison.
Russia, however, is not the only country where atheists face punishment. As noted in country chapters of its Annual Report, released on Monday, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), on which we serve, has found no shortage of nations that perpetrate or permit their persecution. It is time for our country to shine a powerful spotlight on these abuses.