Interview with President of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists
M o s c o w – The religious upbringing of children is the task of parents. That was the view of Yuri Sipko (Moscow), President of the “Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists” (RUECB), in an interview with the alternative Orthodox “Portal-Credo” news service in Moscow on 9 September. The conversation was brought about by the announcement that a course entitled “Spiritual and Moral Teaching” will be introduced towards the end of the current school year in numerous regions of Russia. Until recently, this programme had been called “Foundations of Orthodox Culture.” It will in any case be strongly influenced by the Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate.
Yet according to Sipko, the Russian state and society are so strongly mired in dishonesty and corruption, that they are totally incapable of instilling moral values among the young. “We assume our children are able to accept religious mysteries as well as spiritual and ethical norms as their own. But neither their parents nor teachers have ever taken on these norms for themselves. And this also holds true for the servants of the church. When will we stop lying to ourselves?” Today we are our own greatest danger – Russian society is endangered most by its own irreligious and immoral attitude. “Those who write and pass our laws also violate them without consequence.” In addition, virtually all of today’s leaders were raised in the spirit of atheism and Darwinism. Yet “godliness is without morality, it is essentially immoral.”
President Sipko noted that the introduction of measures favouring Orthodoxy infringes upon vital passages of the Russian constitution guaranteeing equal treatment for all religions. “Morality cannot be attained with immoral means.”
The course is to be introduced at the end of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth class. Sipko also regards this as troubling: “It is probably by then too late to accept new views. Twelve-year-olds are fully capable of shamelessly mocking adults – including their parents and teachers.” He believes schools “will be doing to religion what they have already done to communist ideology”. “We remember the games that were played among the Pioneers and Komsomol. Thanks to mass application, an entire, state-run ideology became a laughing-stock demoralising the spirit of our children. Even the religious training of the Tsarist state “awakened in people hatred for religion. In the end, those who had gone through the process of religious education in schools destroyed churches, religious books and even the clergy themselves.”
Yuri Sipko sees the sole solution in parents taking upon themselves the task of religious training for their children. “In our schools I would have preferred a course entitled “Ethics”, he added. “I would have preferred that we uphold the Constitution.” Only in this fashion would the state’s neutrality on religious matters have been secured.
The RUECB, Russia's largest, unified Protestant church, represents approximately 80.000 adult members in 1.750 congregations and groups.
Department for External Church Relations, RUECB
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