MINISTRY OF EDUCATION: THE TERM “SECT” DOES NOT MEAN ANTI-SOCIAL ORIENTATION OF PENTECOSTAL DOCTRINE
The Main Department of general and secondary education of the Ministry of Education informed the Union of Evangelical Faith Christians that “the term “sect”, used to describe their group, does not mean their doctrine is anti-social”.
The Union of Evangelical Faith Christians (tel. +375 17 219 00 94) addressed the Ministry of Education about some allegations, contained in the text book for 11th grade students of secondary schools, edited by Yu. Kharyn and published in 2002. T. M. Alpeeva, the author of the chapter “Non-Traditional Religious Associations and Sects”, ranks Evangelical Faith Christians (Pentecostal Christians) with sects, infamous for their destructive activities, such as White Brotherhood, “Aum Shinrikyo”, and others.
The Union of Evangelical Faith Christians addressed the Ministry of Education on 8 April 2003. It states that such allegations, published in a text book with the circulation of 147,200 copies, leads to forming an extremely negative image of that religion in the society. Together with “the campaign of lie and slander, carried out by some state-owned mass media”, it leads to “pastors and their families being threatened with violence, and children from believers’ families offended in schools”.
The Union of Evangelical Faith Christians thinks, “the text book will contribute to further fomenting of religious strife in our country”. They demand to exclude the text book from the program of general education.
On 7 May 2003 Shcherba, head of the main department of general and secondary education, replied that the author had used the term “sect” in a “scientific and theoretical” meaning. Shcherba argues, in this meaning the term “does not contain assessments” and “does not point at anti-social orientation” of the group. Further the letter informs, that the Ministry still agrees that “the term “sect” has an ambiguous meaning in the society”. That’s why, the Ministry explains, they recommended teachers to hold obligatory extra classes to “explain the scientific meaning of this word”. According to the official, the recommendations will be published in The Nastawnitskaya Hazeta, newspaper for teachers. The Ministry promises that when the text book is republished, the texts of the topic about spiritual potential of religion will be revised.
Let us remind the readers, that the Encyclopedia of Belarusian History Volume 6, Part 1, published one year before the text book, in the entry “Sect” says: “In everyday life and even in literature the term “sect” is groundlessly used to describe communities of protestant believers. This usage is not in line with the modern level of these religious organizations”.