Guest / Limited Access /

In a significant challenge to Russia's 1997 Religion Law, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Russian officials wrongfully denied legal status to an outpost of the Salvation Army. The October verdict levied a fine of 10,000 euros, payable to the evangelical church's Moscow office.

The Salvation Army initially registered with the state in 1992. After the restrictive Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations passed in 1997, however, Moscow's city government rejected the church's re-registration application. The government raised several minor objections to the application, all of which the ECHR deemed petty. Officials also accused the Salvation Army of being a "militarized organization."

In early 2002, the Salvation Army's Moscow office was forced to suspend its activities for some months, before being allowed to continue work while still unregistered.

"Russia remains extremely problematic from the point of view of freedom of religion," said Michael Bourdeaux, founder and president emeritus of the Keston Institute, Oxford, which monitors religious freedom in Communist and former Communist countries. "Basically, the 1997 legislation continues to be a disaster. … [It] publicly proclaims that Protestants and Catholics enjoy a lower level of rights than the Russian Orthodox Church."

The ECHR decided unanimously that the government overstepped its bounds when it attempted to determine whether the Salvation Army's "beliefs or the means used to express them were legitimate." Furthermore, the court criticized a key provision of the 1997 law that disallows foreign nationals from founding religious organizations.

Russia signed onto the European Convention on Human Rights in 1998 after joining the Council ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Go Figure
Do evangelicals like big government? And other statistics.
RecommendedSouthern Baptists Back Away from Backing Mosques
Southern Baptists Back Away from Backing Mosques
Trustee scuffle over ‘unholy alliance’ leads IMB to leave ERLC’s side on religious freedom fights.
TrendingTrump Adviser’s Megachurch Withholds Major Donation from SBC
Trump Adviser’s Megachurch Withholds Major Donation from SBC
Prestonwood Baptist diverts denominational giving over concerns about Russell Moore’s ERLC.
Editor's PickUrban Mix-and-Match Religion Didn't Start with Nick Cannon
Urban Mix-and-Match Religion Didn't Start with Nick Cannon
Why this 'new spirituality' is really just old-fashioned syncretism.
Christianity Today
Salvation Army Wins Battle
hide thisJanuary January

In the Magazine

January 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.