Even though each citizen of the Republic of Armenia has the right to believe in the religion that he or she desires according to the RA Law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religion", Chief of the Department for Registration of Public Entities at the RA Ministry of Diaspora Edik Margaryan says he wouldn't let his child join a religious organization.
The government will discuss the new draft law on freedom of conscience and religion on Thursday and will send it to the National Assembly for discussion upon confirmation.
The new draft law defines the rights and responsibilities of religious organizations, which will be fined up to 400,000 drams for violations of those rights and responsibilities. The punishment may also be liquidation of the organization. According to the new draft law, proselytizing and the sponsoring of activities of a religious organization on the part of foreigners are considered violations of the law.
"If the religious organization approaches the same person more than once, be it at home or outside, this will be viewed as a violation of responsibilities and punishable by the law," said Edik Margaryan.
An annual review of activities on the website or the provision of data to the authorized body is also part of the religious organizations' responsibilities.
The new draft law on the freedom of conscience and religion also gives religious groups with more than 25 members the opportunity to register as religious organizations. According to the existing law, the group is considered a group only in the case of 200 members.
If there are discrepancies between the religious group and the rights and responsibilities by the law to be confirmed, the new draft law assumes establishment of consensus.
Head of the Department for Religion of the RA Government Vardan Astsatryan stressed the danger of such a policy (groups can increase) and mentioned that "this assumed the revelation of small religious groups".
The head of the department for religion also stressed another flaw in the draft law, that is, the activities of the religious groups that appeal for registration as religious organizations aren't examined by experts.
"If those worshipping Satan appeal to us, we will have to receive them."