The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church is urging Russian lawmakers to adopt a “moderate” law to protect the feelings of religious believers — as long as the punishment is more than a fine. Reuters reports on the absurd position taken by Patriarch Karill:
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a long-standing ally of President Vladimir Putin, on Sunday urged the Kremlin to be moderate in new legislation seeking stricter punishment for religious offences…
In remarks published on the eve of Russian Orthodox Christmas, Kirill, who has likened Putin’s long rule to a “miracle of God”, told the Interfax news agency that Russia needed stiffer punishments for offences against religion.
“A fine of several hundred roubles (about $10) for blasphemous inscriptions on a church, a mosque or a synagogue signals that society does not fully realise the importance of protecting … religious feelings of believers,” he said.
But in his most extensive comment on the proposed law, he said it should not limit citizens’ rights.
“Any regulatory acts regarding the protection of religious symbols and the feelings of believers should be scrupulously worked through so that they are not used for improvised limitation of freedom of speech and creative self-expression.”
I’m sure that trespassing and vandalism are already criminal offenses in that country and that is the only thing that should be illegal. That isn’t an offense against religion, it is an offense against property; the fact that it’s a church property should not matter at all. There is no such thing as a law to protect the feelings of believers that does not limit freedom of speech. The very nature of such laws violates free speech.