Russian Orthodox Church Accused of Anti-Semitism
Investigation centers around anti-Semitic literature; Jewish advocates praise invocation of Russia's anti-hate laws.
BY: Frank Brown
A spokesman for the Yekaterinburg diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, Hieromonk Dmitry, acknowledged that the anti-Semitic book, "He is at the Door" (referring to Satan), was on sale in church bookstores as part of a seven-volume collection of the works of Sergei Nilus, a Russian Orthodox writer who died in 1929.
"If we are talking about freedom (of speech) then everyone should have the chance to get acquainted with these works, shouldn't they?," Dmitry said Friday. "There are different opinions about this book, both good and bad."
He denied that the Yekaterinburg diocese discriminates against any particular ethnic group, "including the Jews, especially since our Lord God came from the Jews."
Oshtrakh, who is affiliated with the Washington-based Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union, said the Nilus works on sale in Yekaterinburg are undeniably anti-Semitic.
"He wrote in that book that Jews are the followers of the antichrist, that they worship the devil since they don't accept Jesus as God," Oshtrakh said. "Then, (Nilus) goes on with his whole theory that Jews want to take over the world. As proof, he quotes the `Protocols.'"
Yekaterinburg is not the only Russian city where Nilus has a following. In the country's second largest city, St. Petersburg, the first-ever Sergei Nilus Prize is set to be awarded Jan. 13 to a writer "who in writing about the spiritual life of the Russian people confirms Orthodox ideals," according to a press release by the Orthodox St. Petersburg Society.