for Human Rights Without Frontiers on July 8, 2010
Students of the Moscow City Pedagogical University are being taught that charismatic churches, Jehovah's Witnesses, "The International Society of Krishna Consciousness" and other religious associations are "sects," a Portal-credo.ru correspondent reports.
The syllabus of the course on history of world religious for undergraduate students of the History Faculty of the Moscow City Pedagogical University (V.V. Riabov, rector) includes an arbitrary classification of "sects" that applies to contemporary so-called "nontraditional cults." The author of the syllabus, senior teacher of the department of world history of MGPU, Konstantin Zakharov, suggests that students study the following classification of "cults": "syncretistic and eclectic sects," "pseudo-biblical sects," "pseudo-Hindu sects," "neopaganism and nativist sects," "psycho-cults," etc. The word "sect" is not placed within quotation marks in the syllabus. Within the category of these organizations the author includes charismatic churches, identified in the syllabus as "charismatics," "The Moon Unification Church," "Children of Jesus," Jehovah's Witnesses, "International Society of Krishna Consciousness," "New Age," and other religious associations.
In the opinion of representatives of the Institute of Freedom of Conscience and many other famous scholars of religion, the use of terms incorrectly, from a scientific and legal point of view, with respect to religious associations is the language of hostility and religious xenophobia; it incites strife and intolerance, engenders conflicts, contradicts the Federal Program for Promotion of the Framework of Tolerant Consciousness and the program of toleration of the government of Moscow, and threatens inter-confessional peace and the integrity of the Russian state. (tr. by PDS, posted 2 July 2010)