Parliamentarians propose ban on “totalitarian sects”
A draft law has been tabled in parliament proposing amendments and additions to the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” regarding a ban on the activities of what are termed totalitarian religious sects (reg. no. 5473). The draft law envisages prohibition on involving children and young people under 18 in religious organizations’ activities without the permission of their lawful representatives. It also proposes a ban on the creation and functioning in Ukraine of totalitarian religious sects. The proposed new Article 31 states: “In Ukraine the creation and functioning in Ukraine of totalitarian religious sects are prohibited. Harm caused a victim from the dangerous psychological influence of members of a totalitarian religious sect is subject to compensation in accordance with procedure set out in the Civil Code of Ukraine.”
The Article also contains definitions with “totalitarian religious sect” being understood as a religious organization whose activities are directed at violating the rights and freedoms of citizens via the use of forms of dangerous psychological pressure. The latter is defined as being psychological influence or other manipulation of a person’s emotions and will, using emotional and psychological overload, stress, individual impressionability, passivity, insufficient mental development and emotional immaturity which could lead to loss of social reference points and values, lowered self-esteem or temporary psychological disturbance.
Among the organizations cited as examples of activities based on controlling the behaviour of a “zombified” person, the authors (Ihor Rybakov, independent, and Vladyslav Lukyanov, Party of the Regions) mention the Unification Church, Scientology, the cult of Satanism, the White Brotherhood, and, rather oddly, the Transcendental Meditation Society.
It should be noted that this is not the first such initiative in Ukraine’s parliament. As reported here already, representatives of the main Churches and specialists were critical of a draft law proposed by Gennady Moskal (reg. no. 2419). They believe that such legislative initiatives unwarrantedly narrow the right to freedom of religion and are a faulty approach to fighting totalitarian sects whose activity can even now be stopped in accordance with current legislation.