In the village of Ruginoasa in the northeastern part of Romania called Moldova (not to be confused with the Republic of Moldova), a group of Baptist believers were meeting in a room which they had rented. Most of the Baptist believers came from a neighboring town. Local Orthodox priests Pavel, Novac, [and] Doroftei started to mention the Baptist danger in their sermons. On Sunday [30 March 1997], 700 people from the village surrounded the house used by the Baptist believers for worship. Another 150 persons came from the neighboring village carrying crosses, icons, and towels. When the nine Baptists came out from the worship service the crowd started to beat them. Among the group were women [and] a 14 year-old girl. The Orthodox Christians beat the Baptists and kicked them with their feet. Local police did not interfere. Orthodox priests did not call on their Christian believers to stop the beating. When asked by the national TV news crew, nobody in the village had seen anything, although they had heard that there was a fight.
Such events are not singular in that part of Romania although the scale of the beating is exceptional. Romania is very keen to be accepted in NATO and in the European Union. The Baptists in Romania support their country in the effort, as we think that we belong to the European family. At the same time I think that respect for human rights should be part of the standards which Romanians must accept. It is a sad comment that Orthodox believers expressed their allegiance to their faith in a celebration of violence and not of life.
How The Orthodox See It
Gynella Parfenie, writing in the Iasi, Romania, newspaper, Monitorul, notes that
Sources: E-mail open letter from Otniel Bunaciu, professor at the Institutul Teologic Baptist Bucaresti, 5 April 1997, shared with the Institute for East-West Christian Studies by Radu Gheorghita, Tyndale House, Cambridge University, 8 April 1997; "Official Response from the Orthodox Church," World Evangelical Fellowship Religious Liberty E-mail Conference (firstname.lastname@example.org), 10 April 1997.
Written permission is required for reprinting or electronic distribution of any portion of the East-West Church & Ministry Report.
© 1997 East-West Church and Ministry Report