Religion in Moldova
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Religion in Moldova is separate from the state in that it is much different from any other state religion in Western Europe. The Constitution of the Republic of Moldova provides for freedom of religion, and the national government generally respects this right in practice; however, the law includes restrictions that at times may inhibit the activities of some religious groups.
The generally amicable relationship among religions in Moldovan society contributes to religious freedom; however, disputes among various branches of the Christian Orthodox faith continue. Other religions practiced in Moldova include Islam and Judaism.
Eastern Orthodox Church
The primary religion is Christianity, 90% of the population nominally being Eastern Orthodox. Administratively, there are two autonomous churches belonging to two autocephalous churches (Russian and Romanian) within the Eastern Orthodox communion. The autonomous Metropolis of Chişinău and Moldova (belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church), according to the State Service on Religious Issues, has 1,194 parishes; the autonomous Metropolis of Bessarabia (belonging to the Romanian Orthodox Church) has 124 parishes. In addition followers of the Old Rite Russian Orthodox Church (Old Believers) make up approximately 3.6 percent of the population. The religious traditions of the Eastern Orthodoxy are entwined with the culture and patrimony of the country. Many self-professed atheists routinely celebrate religious holidays, cross themselves, and even light candles and kiss icons if local tradition and the occasion demand.
Adherents of other faiths include Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Bahá'ís, Jews, Unification Church members, Molocans (a Russian group), Messianic Jews (who believe that Jesus was the Messiah), Lutherans, Presbyterians, Hare Krishnas, and some other charismatic Christian and evangelical Christian groups. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) has 3 congregations in the country, and a combined total of approximately 370 members. According to the most recently available numbers, the Jewish community has approximately 31,300 members, including approximately 20,000 living in Chişinău; 3,100 in Bălți and surrounding areas; 2,200 in Tiraspol; 2,000 in Bender; and 4,000 in small towns.
Freedom of religion
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, the 1992 Law on Religions, which codifies religious freedoms, contains restrictions that inhibit the activities of unregistered religious groups. Although the law was amended in 2002, many of the restrictions remain in place. The law provides for freedom of religious practice, including each person's right to profess his or her religion in any form. It also protects the confidentiality of the confessional, allows denominations to establish associations and foundations, and states that the Government may not interfere in the religious activities of denominations. The law specifies that "in order to organize and function", religious organizations must be registered with the Government, and unregistered groups may not own property, engage employees, or obtain space in public cemeteries in their own names.
Church and state interference
Although the Constitution declares the separation of church and state, the Moldovan Orthodox Church (Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova under the Russian Orthodox Church) occasionally violates this principle.
In October 2015, the same Orthodox Church leveraged its authority in a failed attempt to influence the trial of former prime minister Vlad Filat, who was accused of passive corruption and traffic of influence.
In December 2015, the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova challenged the State Tax Service of the Republic of Moldova, refusing to provide revenue reports, despite the fact that religious organizations have lost their tax exempt status in 2013.
In 2016, on the eve of the first round of the presidential elections, the metropolitan bishop Vladimir called on parishioners to cast their votes for Igor Dodon, the pro-Russian leader of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova. Later on, a group of Moldovan clergy of the same church, headed by bishop Marchel, call on citizens to vote Igor Dodon in the November elections runoff, saying that the Socialist candidate supports the Orthodox Church, while his competitor Maia Sandu would fight against it.
- Bahá'í Faith in Moldova
- Eastern Orthodoxy in Moldova
- History of the Jews in Moldova
- Islam in Moldova
- Religion by country
- Roman Catholicism in Moldova
- Protestantism in Moldova
- Slavic Neopaganism
- "Moldovans Rally To Protest Formal Recognition Of Islam". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty.
- "A new trial in case Filat: Former premier has appeared in front of court". Jurnal.md - Ca să ştii totul!.
- "Apelul ÎPS Mitropolit Vladimir adresat tuturor instituțiilor statului implicate în cercetarea cazului Domnului Vlad Filat". Mitropolia Chişinăului şi a Întregii Moldove. Archived from the original on 20 October 2015.
- "Mitropolia Moldovei este nemulțumită de impozitare". Deschide.md.
- Moldovan clerics get involved in electioneering, make scandalous assertions
- The article is based on a 2004 public domain USDoS webpage. Breadcrumb trail: USDoS Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor > Releases > International Religious Freedom > 2004 > Europe and Eurasia > Moldova
Media related to Religion in Moldova at Wikimedia Commons