MINELRES: Fwd: Religion-Az: Azerbaidjan Molokans

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon Sep 12 20:50:01 2005

Original sender: Eldar Zeynalov <aihmm@mail.ru>

Azerbaidzhan Molokans

AZERBAIJAN: Religious freedom survey June 2003 
By Felix Corley, Editor, Forum 18 News Service, Norway

The author reports on The State Committee of Azerbaijan Republic for the
Work with Religious Associations established in accordance with the
Decree #512 dated 21st of June 2001. 

In short, though there are restrictions on many religions - about 80%
could not register - the Molokans appear to be free and have 11
congregatinos registered out of 168 in 2003.
"... officials' ... dislike of pluralism. ... all religious literature
is subject to compulsory prior censorship.

"The Azerbaijani government is fundamentally hostile to the idea of
religious freedom, seeking to control faiths it regards as a potential
challenge (especially Islam), to co-opt faiths it sees as useful
(Judaism, Russian Orthodoxy, Lutheranism and Catholicism) and to
restrict as far as it can other faiths that it dislikes (Evangelical
Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hare Krishna). Only faiths with a small
following and who function unobtrusively, such as Molokans (an early
Russian Protestant group), Georgian Orthodox and Baha'is, tend to escape
government attention."

In April 2003, of 2,000 possible religious communities, 406 (21%)
registrated with the Ministry of Justice, "about 175" achieved
reregistration. But the official list shows 168 registered religious
communities published on the State Committee website www.addk.net.  

List of Registered Religious Communities up to 01 April, 2003 

79. Christian Molokan Religious Community in Baku 
80. Christian Molokan Religious Community in Sumgayit 
104. Malakan Christian Religious Community of Hilmilli village in
Gobustan region 

[Only 3 named Molokan congregations can be located on this list of 168,
but 11 are reported to have registered in the English version of the
article, below. Others could be:

124. The 2nd Religious Community in Ismayilli 
155. Religious Community of Gedabey
158. Religious Community of 1st Nugadi village in Guba region
166. Religious Community of Sangachal village in Garadag region 
167. Religious Community of Kurdmashi village in Ismayilli region ]

Who Are Molocans?

Molocans are one of the sects of spiritual Christianity. The founder of
the religious movement of Molocans in the 80th of the 18th century was
peasant of Tambov Semen Uklein. He was Orthodox, but then he joined sect
of spiritual fighters [Doukhobors]. Afterwards he separated and
established his own circle. He chose 70 "apostles" among his followers
and triumphantly entered Tambov singing religious songs so that to teach
his new doctrine openly. But police arrested them and put into prison.
Imaginary apostles turned in Orthodox and were released. Uklein himself
was given for clergy and released imaginary after his pretended turning
in Orthodox. But even after this he continued teaching his doctrine but
more carefully than before. He travelled through Tambov, Voronej
[Voronezh], Saratov, Astrahan, and provinces and lands of Donsc and
Caucasus. The success of the doctrine has strengthened when Aleksandr I
returned to the throne and there was tolerance of sects. Since beginning
of leading of Nicolay I they shared fate of spiritual fighters
[Doukhobors] and were settled in Trans-Caucasian territories [the same]
as the spiritual fighters [Doukhobors]. 

[NOTE: Azeris often transliterate Molokan into English as "molocan" and
"malakan". Also, I rearranged the Russian and English translations from
the State Committee website to be side-by-side unchanged here. The
English translation is not the best, but interestingly contains more
informaiton about the demographics of Molokans than the Russian

Recently Molocans become being absorbed about Baptism. Those Molocans
who don't fall under influence of other groups are more moderate and in
comparison with the followers of new sects are poorly inclined to
propagation of their doctrine. 

This movement is called Molocans movement because its followers drink
milk during fasting. But Molocans explain this that they eat "wordy
milk" [pure verbal milk (1 Peter 2:2)], and usually they call themselves
"spiritual Christians". They recognise the Holy Scripture as the only
source of religious teaching and sometimes they misread its meaning
beyond recognition. 

Molocans assert that, only they "spiritual Christians" present the real
church, they don't accept any tradition, cathedral decisions and profess
only what is written in the Bible. They deny hierarchy in the church,
and don't recognise persons with special power and gifts of grace.
Molocans don't have churches, and dogmatic doctrine of Molocans is
stated in so called Books of Rites. Resurrection of dead, in his
doctrine will be fleshy, not spiritual. All doctrine of Uklein consists
of this. Accepting only spiritual worship to God, Molocans as spiritual
fighters deny orthodox doctrine about sacraments and rites. As to
fasting Molocans think that a man must fast not only on determined
periods of time, but when he fills his sins and prevalence of flesh over
spirit. According to their teaching the fasting should consist of
complete abstention from food and drinks. Molocans can eat everything
except of pork and fish without scales.

The worship of Molocans consists of reading and singing of well-known
things from Holly Scripture, mainly Psalter. The rule in such case is
like this. The old reader, whom they call provider, sits in forward
corner, opens the Bible and reads a verse from it; and all listeners
start reading it in a singing voice. 

In the course of a true Molocans permanently divided into to 3 groups:
general [communal], usual [constant] and jumpers. The rules of Molocans
started to be exposed to larger or smaller changes.

In modern conditions Molocans lose their followers more and more and
they understand it themselves.

Nowadays Molocans in Azerbaijan usually live in Baku, Sumgait, Shemakhi,
Ismailli, Gedebey and Guba areas. 

First Molocan communities appeared in Azerbaijan in the middle of XVIII
century. They were moved from Russia because of such belief and
opposition to Orthodox Church.
[See Breyfogle's thesis  and new book
<http://www.molokane.org/Breyfogle/index.html>for more about why and how
the Molokans were moved to the Caucasus.] 

At the present time there are 11 registered communities of Spiritual
Christian Molocans in Azerbaijan. The largest of them are located in
Baku (about 150 persons) and in Sumgait (about 100 persons). Other
communities consisting of no more than 10 persons act in Shemakhi,
Garadag, Hizi and Ismailli areas. 

There are also some unregistered communities in those areas. In all
communities is conducted calculation of members, who are elderly people. 

The young people and children usually don't attend communities. The
members are only citizens of Russian nationality. The communities don't
act as missionaries and the number of their members reduces year by
year. There are observed no infringements of the legislation. They don't
have religious centre and each community acts independently. [But the
Kochubeekoe Center
<http://www.molokane.org/places/FSU/Stavropol/Kochubeevkoe/index.htm> is
the largest organization of Molokan churches in the world.] At the same
time they support close relations with Baku community and Molocan
communities of Stavropol. [Thousands of Azerbaidjan Moloklans have fled
to Stavropol'ski and Krasnodar krais.] The financial income is not high
and is used to support financial help to their members and worship

Last years the tendency of closing of many communities because of the
lack of the people is observed. General number of all members of Molocan
communities is about 500 persons. [500 is the number who regularly
attend church on Sundays, mainly the elderly, and not the actual number
of ethnic Molokans in the country, which number many thousands. Several
of the monthain villages are nearly 100% Molokan in origin.] 

Molokans Around the World

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