J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Moscow Chapter Focuses on Religious Freedom

Braving the November chill and heavy traffic, fifteen members of the Moscow, Russia, chapter of the JRCLS were welcomed at the home of Brent and Lorinda Belnap for the second meeting of the chapter on November 14, 2014.  The hospitality of the Belnaps, including delicious food, fueled the socializing and introductions, as several in the chapter had not met before.  David Channer, Regional Legal Counsel for the LDS Church, gave a timely presentation on Trends in the Narrowing of Religious Liberty.

Belnap, current chapter chair and former International Chair of the Law Society, introduced the chair-elect, Vladimir Mochalov, and chapter secretary, Denis Smogluck, both of whom work for the Office of General Counsel in Moscow.  Belnap is the Area Legal Counsel for the Europe East Area, headquartered in Moscow.  He announced four events in 2015 for the chapter, including a Russian-language version of the annual fireside, a lunch at the Moscow offices of Baker McKenzie, and an address by Elder Klebingat, 2nd counselor in the Europe East Area Presidency.

Channer, visiting from Salt Lake City, listed reasons for concern regarding religious freedom worldwide, including the prevalence of moral relativism, which results in less deference to religion; attempts to control religious fanaticism, which results in more government regulation of all religions; expansion of the state, which tends to regulate religion on the grounds that it is a form of advertising; and the objective of authoritarian regimes to maintain power by supporting the dominant religion.  He ended his remarks with a challenge for the chapter to be engaged in something good in the community as a chapter. 

Those attending included attorneys in the Moscow area in private practice, working for the U.S. government or businesses, and working for the LDS Church.  All were pleased to gather together to discuss shared beliefs and look forward to future events. 
By Elizabeth Shaw Smith

Posted: January 20, 2015