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I’d like to start by saying that contemporary Ukraine and Russia are antipodes in many respects, including with respect to religious freedom. While Ukraine has one of the most liberal religious legal frameworks in the region and a highly competitive religious market, Russia has managed to create a very restrictive religious legislation with one religion, the Russian Orthodox Church, being strongly endorsed and many religious minorities being severely discriminated against and oppressed. This stark contrast between Russia and Ukraine goes far beyond religion, and it is not an exaggeration to say that the Russia-Ukraine war is the war between two opposite political systems, where Ukraine’s is based on freedom and competition, while Russia’s is based on lack of freedom and on oppression. …

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On 2 February 2023, John Zizioulas, Orthodox hierarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and one of the most influential theologians of the past 50 years, passed away at age 92. He is known worldwide for his theology of communion, described in his two major works: Being as Communion (1985) and Communion and Otherness (2006). These books offer an attempt at a systematic theology that brings together various theological disciplines (such as triadology, Christology, ecclesiology, anthropology, pneumatology, and eschatology) based on the idea that being is communion. His opponents regarded him as a heretic and a modernist, while his supporters considered him one of the greatest minds of the Orthodox Church in history. …

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Series: The Russia-Ukraine War and Religion: One Year after the Beginning of the Invasion

By Jerry Pankhurst, Robert C. Blitt, Alar Kilp, Regina Elsner, Catherine Wanner, Andriy Fert, Stanislav Panin, Dmytro Vovk, and Michelle Coleman

In March 2022, after Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine had begun, we published a series exploring the role of religion in the war. In that series, we argued that the religious component of the conflict has manifested itself in a variety of aspects: from religious justification and rhetoric employed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to the perception of the war by Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches, to threats to religious freedom in territories under Russian control.

Commemorating the first-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, we provide an update on these topics. …

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Response to the UN’s “Call for Input to a Thematic Report: Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI)”

By W. Cole Durham, Jr., Alexander Dushku, Scott E. Isaacson, Denise Posse Lindberg, and David H. Moore

Tensions regarding competing claims for freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) and sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) rights have been central to “culture wars” for many years. Addressing this tension in the context of a thematic report for the United Nations calls for particular wisdom and balance. A holistic approach sensitive to the countervailing considerations is particularly vital in this area. In many parts of the world, resentment of LGBT+ agendas takes the form of general disenchantment with the international human rights movement. On the other hand, FoRB claims in certain quarters are read as masks for bigotry. Such polarized and polarizing positions are both excessive and surely mark a failure of discourse and a deeper failure to apprehend the reciprocal claims to human dignity involved. …

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Human Dignity Initiative

Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with an invitation to a global conversation about preserving and protecting human dignity for everyone everywhere.

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