Posts Tagged “ban”

Baba Yaga (Zvorykin)In a move I find both refreshing and troubling, the Russian Parliament is considering a law to ban advertising by that country’s occult practitioners. The (UK) Telegraph reports on the proposed legislation and the problems which led up to it (WebCite cached article):

Russian MPs have backed a bill that bans anyone who calls themselves a witch or a wizard from advertising their services in the media in an effort to combat a controversial national obsession with the occult.

According to the Orthodox Church, Russia has 800,000 practitioners of the occult, many of whom advertise in newspaper small advertisements offering cures for alcoholism and spells to lift curses and return errant husbands for a fee. One report claims almost one in five Russians have consulted occult ‘healers’ but MPs have warned they are risking their health and possibly their lives by trusting in such quackery. They say it is time the country grew up.

In a tragic incident this summer, a four-year-old boy in Russia’s Far East suffocated to death during an exorcism ritual carried out by a local healer who was convinced the boy was possessed by a demon.

This particular event was widely reported this summer, by Pravda, among other places (cached).

I’m not sure stifling advertising will really curb the “healers'” activities, though … I’m fairly certain they’ll find ways to announce themselves and make sales, in spite of it. What might be a better idea — instead — is to prosecute those who defraud or harm people, thus encouraging them not to want to bother selling their putative “services” in the first place. This should obviate the need to prevent them from advertising.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Photo of Dianetics, by L. Ron HubbardThe Church of Scientology has found the going tough, the last few months. A court defeat in France, exposées based on accounts by ex-Scientologists, published in more than one venue, have plagued the so-called “religion” of a deceased sci-fi pulp author, once championed by Hollywood stars. Its latest setback is a bit of a drastic one; Scientology has been banned in Russia. That’s right … the whole country! The Moscow Times relates the story (locally cached version):

Works by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard will be added to the country’s list of extremist literature for “undermining the traditional spiritual values of the citizens of the Russian Federation,” the Prosecutor General’s Office said Wednesday.

The ruling — initiated by transport prosecutors in the Siberian city of Surgut and Khanty-Mansiisk customs officers — is the latest use of the hotly debated law on extremism to target systems of belief that are not traditional in Russia.

The government review of Scientology was triggered in Surgut, Siberia:

Prosecutors said they intercepted 28 individual titles, including books, audio and video recordings by Hubbard that were sent to residents in Surgut from the United States. The materials were sent for study to “psychiatrists, psychologists and sociologists,” who determined that they should not be distributed in Russia, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement [Russian-language link].

The Russian government’s concerns are at least partly ideological in nature:

According to the research requested by prosecutors, the seized works contained “ideas justifying violence in general and in particular any means of opposing critics of Scientology,” the statement said. “The works have clear as well as hidden calls for social and religious hatred” and call for hindering the work of the state.

These particular objections don’t make a lot of sense to me, but then, this is Russia after all, where everything the government does is cloaked behind language of this sort … I don’t presume this is an accurate explanation of what they truly think about Scientology.

Hat tip: Skeptic’s Dictionary.

Photo credit: puck-man.

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