Russian Christians, Muslims and Jews launch political party
Christians of various confessions supported by Muslims, Jews and even some agnostics have gathered for a founding convention of the Ten Commandments Party – a secular movement which seeks to establish religious ethical principles in the society.
The founding convention hosted 134 delegates from 45 different regions of Russia. The head of the newly-established movement is Sergey Mezentsev – a professional philosopher and the leader of the Blissful Russia movement. He began to create the party about a year ago and back then said that the project would follow the common spiritual and ethical norms based on the well-known Decameron of the Old Testament. Despite the fact that the Blissful Russia unites mostly Evangelical Baptists, the Ten Commandments Party gained support from the Russian Orthodox Church. The head of the Holy Synod’s department for relations between the Church and the society, Vsevolod Chaplin, spoke at the convention and stated that he hoped that the new party could “bring back the ethical dimension and God’s Ten Commandments to the everyday political practice and the society’s life.”“Unfortunately, many of our citizens understand the secular society as a manifestation of militant secularism connected with the destruction of the traditional cultures of the peoples of our country. None of the religions can give an adequate response to these challenges by itself,” the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Chaplin as saying.However, in later press comments Chaplin noted that the Russian Orthodox Church is not planning to grant any preferences to the Ten Commandments Party, as it is open for equal dialogue with all political forces that do not reject such communication. He added that Orthodox priests cannot join the party, as the Church has officially forbidden them from any participation in political projects since 1997. Chaplin, however again stated that he welcomed the participation of various believers in the project – be they Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, Muslims, Jews and even agnostics who follow the traditional religious values in their lives. The Ten Commandments Party is not yet registered as a political party that can run in elections and this can be a problem for its founders. Russian law forbids the creation of political parties based on religious beliefs – the regulations, and even names, of political parties cannot state the protection of religious interests as an objective.