Seemingly innocuous mischief

Right Wing Watch tells us how the American Center for Law and Justice – which was founded by Pat Robertson to be the opposite of the ACLU – likes religious freedom in the dear US but not so much outside that cozy god-loving gun-toting country.

Both the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) and the Slavic Center for Law and Justice (SCLJ) affiliates voiced support for Russia’s 2013 gag order on gay-rights advocacy. In addition, following the 2012 Pussy Riot protest, the SCLJ called for a law criminalizing religious blasphemy. One of its leading attorneys then helped draft one proposed version of the law. 

Religious freedom for me but not for thee.

Shortly after the feminist punk band Pussy Riot staged a protest at a Russian Orthodox cathedral – for which they were ultimately sentenced to two years in a penal colony for “hooliganism” – the SCLJ issued a press release endorsing the efforts of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, an Orthodox Church official, to criminalize blasphemy, which at the time was punishable by just a small fine. The press release argued that “seemingly innocuous mischief of a few aggressive individuals led to real religious conflicts that posed a threat to people’s lives and health,” and recommending “harsh punishments” for people found guilty of blasphemy.

The press release called for Russian officials “to toughen laws against incitement of religious hatred and hostility, but also against insult to the religious feelings of the faithful and assaults against their shrines and temples. We also believe that there is an urgent need to introduce harsh punishments for disseminating such information on the Internet.”

I suppose the thinking is that religious freedom is for religious people, so blasphemy and protesting in a cathedral don’t count as religious freedom, since no religious person would do such a thing.





  1. brucemartin says

    Another interpretation might be that the ACLJ actually does NOT care for religious freedom, but rather seeks a society wherein they can have pressure for conformity to their own right-wing point of view.
    Of course, we can’t prove the motivations of others. But I feel the record may be more consistent with this interpretation.

  2. Omar Puhleez says

    Religious freedom is supported by all the squabbling sects when there is a multitude of squabbling sects, as was found in Europe following the Reformation. But where one major ‘sect’ (eg Eastern Orthodoxy) dominates the religious scene, it finds religious freedom to be not so important as the preservation of the its own dignity and entitlements.
    This is true of every One True Church.

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