In times of rising debt and economic hardship, it's understandable that the religious might turn to their faith for support. The sympathetic ear of a priest, and any advice they may have, might make it all seem better, at least for a little while. It is, of course, what they're there for – isn't it?
Not so if you're one of the estimated 100 million members of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has just signed a deal with the Russian Federal Court Marshals Service to instruct congregants that they face an eternal life of hellfire if they don't pay back their debts on time.
"Priests will say that unpaid debt is the same as theft in Christianity", explained a spokesman from the Court Marshals Service, which is struggling to stay on top of the 26 per cent of Russian families with outstanding debt. And it seems they're now planning to try and get the Muslims and the Buddhists on side too (you can't make the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca if you're in debt, and debt gives you bad karma, apparently).
Could this be further evidence of the increasing cooperation between the Russian church and state that Michael Binyon wrote about for us last year?