If Russia changes the attitude to Protestants, the country will become more attractive for thousands of businessmen from all over the world
Member of the council for cooperation with religious associations, Chairman of the Russian Neopentecostal Union Sergey Ryakhovsky visited the city of Irkurtsk last week. He met with regional authorities and held a press-conference on the subject "Tolerance and religious extremism in Russia".
According to PolitSibRu, Sergey Ryakhovsky is sure that a new free Russia can be created in Siberia and in the Far East where the law "On liberty of conscience and religious associations" will be fulfilled. He thinks that as soon as Russia slightly changes its view upon some religious confessions the country will become attractive for thousands of businessmen from all over the world.
Sergey Ryakhovsky is a member of presidential and governmental commissions for relations with religious associations. He is also the pastor in the Moscow God's Church and the Co-chairman of the Consultative Council of Russia's Protestant Church Leaders. He is a Protestant priest in the fourth generation. The Russian Neopentecostal Union is one of the Protestant confessions. About 500 people are followers of the church in the region of the Angara River; 10 parishes are situated in Irkutsk and others are in seven districts of the Ikrutsk region.
At the press-conference, Sergey Ryakhovsky told journalists that he was satisfied with the first acquaintance with the authorities of Irkutsk; the latter promised to render assistance and cooperate with the pastor. Then Sergey Ryakhovsky told about the purpose of his visit to the region.
Being a member of the presidential commission, he has come to estimate the religious situation in the region at the time when work on creation of a special council on extremism is carried out in Russia. Sergey Ryakhovsky says the process of centralization of the Evangelical Pentecostal Church that has started in the Irkutsk region is very important. He also spoke of his view upon religious extremism.
According to the pastor, problems of religious extremism are rooted in weakness of the state, lack of the governmental spiritual ideology and poor mechanism of action of the law on liberty of conscience. He says that Protestant confessions are quite anther matter. Sergey Ryakhovsky says that none of high-ranking officials, politicians or military will say openly he is a Protestant; this is highly impossible under the present-day conditions. Meanwhile, he says, everywhere in the world information about religious creed of a popular man adds more positive to his image.
The government loses much lucre through the prevalent negative attitude to Protestants in the country. If Russia changes the attitude to these confessions, the country will become more attractive for thousands of businessmen from all over the world which in its turn will bring investment to the economy and social project, Sergey Ryakhovsky says.
Finally, the guest from Moscow said that Siberia and the Far East are the areas where an experiment on creation of "an actually free Russia" may be the most successful. "Siberia always had more opportunities than Russia's central regions that traditionally have more problems and less tolerance and flexibility."
Chairman of the Irkutsk regional committee for public and national relations Alexander Vasilyev agrees that consolidation of the separate Neopentecostal parishes must be carried out in the Irkutsk region. This will be a success if Sergey Ryakhovsky manages to create a center for all Neopentecostal churches. According to Alexander Vasilyev, Sergey Ryakhovsky is known as an opponent to activity of semi-religious organizations and an advocate of strengthening of the legal sphere. The Irkutsk regional committee is ready to cooperate with Protestants of the region in realization of social projects.