For some 100 million adherents, the church serving the dominant faith in Russia has no intention to embrace cryptocurrency contributions or offers.
According to a Q&A broadcast on YouTube by Jesus Portal, the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s External Church Relations Department, Hilarion Alfeyev, said that the Russian Orthodox Church or ROC is not preparing to establish its own digital currency, nor is it planning to allow cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin (BTC) for donations. However, Alfeyev added that it was possible to use other types of technology to transfer money to the church: phone calls.
“We are unlikely to accept donations of various cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin, nor will we release our own currency,” he said. “I think that it is quite possible to make a donation to the church over the phone.”
The argument is somewhat softened for Alfeyev, who three years ago compared cryptocurrency to the Ponzi scheme “behind which there is nothing.” At that time, he did not seem to discriminate between crypto and conventional banks, saying the currency “[paved] the way for usury, which the church has always spoken out against.”
The ROC was allegedly in a “extremely difficult” financial position last year when the pandemic closed its churches in Russia for two months. While it is impossible to assess precisely what the church is worth, considering the anonymity of its spending, some estimates from 2014 indicate that ROC contributed $150 million in cash, not theological, income annually.
Lawmakers in Russia began the year by passing a bill that gives crypto legal status to the country but does not authorize it to be used as a payment form. President Vladimir Putin later signed a decree ordering those public officials to reveal their crypto assets by the end of June. However, a letter from the Russian Ministry of Labor and Social Security released in December 2020 suggests that officials should liquidate their digital properties by April.