Religions in Belarus: Declared Equality vs. Reality

catholic_procession Radio Liberty

Catholic procession in Minsk, Source: Radio Liberty

Inspired by the report on religious restrictions that the Pew Research Centre released in April, I have written an article about the situation in Belarus. The article looks at how the authorities struggle to reconcile the religious diversity with the right to equality of religions.

Last month, the Pew Research Centre released its Global Restrictions on Religion report, which gauges barriers imposed by governments as well as social hostilities towards religious organisations. Out of the nearly 200 countries studied, Belarus ranked among the ‘high-risk’ group when it comes to religious restrictions.

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Religion and the Social Protest in Belarus

Bel Church Finchley

The Belarusian Greek-Catholic Church in London

Yesterday I attended the service at the Belarusian Greek-Catholic Church in London. The context, however, was rather disturbing – the Freedom Day celebrated on 25 March in Minsk turned into massive arrests and seizures of peaceful protesters. The priest from the Belarusian Catholic Mission to London marked this strongly in the sermon.

Religious institutions in Belarus reacted differently to these developments. The head of the Belarusian Catholic Church asked for a peaceful resolution and humanitarian treatment of those detained by the police. The Orthodox Church remains silent, whereas a Baptist believer appealed a petition to the authorities.

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‘Ecumenical’ Birthday Party in Minsk

screenshot-2016-12-31-12-35-47The Belarusian authorities often emphasise that the country is tolerant to all religions.

Yet, this state-endorsed tolerance is not always straight away translated into practice, particularly with regards to Protestants.

Yesterday I experienced how various Belarusian Christians can gather together and share the common values, beliefs, even when belonging to different denominations.

I attended an open 40th birthday event of Paval Seviaryniec. He is one of the most recognisable faces of the Belarusian opposition, also a former political prisoner, and currently the leader of Belarusian Christian Democracy. The event also served as an occasion to collect donations for the Belarusian Christian information service krynica.info.

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The post-Soviet Challenge: Emerging Religious Diversity

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The Hill of Crosses, Lithuania. Source: dailymail.co.uk

How does Lithuania cope with an emerging religious diversity after regaining its independence? That is one of the questions Dr. Milda Alisauskiene,  Professor of Sociology at Vytautas Magnus University, raised in a podcast from  a series “The Religious Studies Project“.

Dr. Alisauskiene discussed also dynamics between the Catholic Church and the communist authorities in the Soviet-occupied Lithuania, but also some current developments regarding the Lithuanian religiosity.

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