August 2, 2013
A slogan reading “Orthodoxy or Death” was removed from the gates of a rural Russian Orthodox church outside St. Petersburg because it promoted religious hatred and Christian supremacy, prosecutors said Friday.
The motto is popular among ultra-conservative Orthodox groups in Russia – including the militant Union of Orthodox Banner-Bearers known for dispersing gay rallies and assaulting LGBT activists.
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, warned in 2009 that the motto is “dangerous, false and intrinsically contradictory” and called on believers to “beware” of those who preach it, according to the Blagovest religious news website. A district court in Moscow banned the motto a year later and included it on a list of “extremist” materials.
A metal plaque bearing the slogan was forcibly removed from the church gates in the village of Dudachkino some 200 kilometers east of St. Petersburg because the church’s priest had been ignoring since February a court order to remove the plaque, the regional prosecutor’s office said.
A prosecutor told RIA Novosti that Russian culture experts concluded that the motto “incites religious enmity and propagates the idea of the supremacy of one religion over another.”
The motto was placed next to another sign reading, “Serve God and kill Russia’s enemy,” a quote ascribed to Russian Czar Ivan the Terrible, known for his atrocities and purges, Russian media reported.