The Russian Orthodox Church, second in membership only to the Roman Catholic Church, asserts a negative attitude towards human rights and wields influence over Russian foreign policy. The article identifies two approaches – described as two distinct discourses – to human rights within the church. While within the absolutist discourse, human rights are seen as a secular ideology, which the church opposes in principle, the pluralist discourse is open to discussion when it comes to human rights and their consequences in the concrete. In order to engage the church on human rights, one must understand the logic and motivation behind both, yet seek to activate the pluralist discourse rather than the absolutist. The article also explores the growing tendency of alliance-building between religious groups in voicing opposition to human rights, and suggests that insights from the study of the Russian Orthodox Church may help in terms of understanding the broader issue of how religions approach human rights.

Keywords: Religion, Russian Orthodox Church, Traditional Values, Interreligious Cooperation.