The biblical parable is widely known about how Jesus Christ expelled the merchants from the temple in Jerusalem. But does this mean an absolute ban on any trade in religious institutions?
The Gospel really says that "Jesus entered the temple of God and drove out all those who sold and bought in the temple, and overturned the tables and the benches of the doves selling." However, it does not say that the Lord prohibits any trade on the territory of the temple. To understand what this is about, you need to know the structure of the Old Testament temple in Jerusalem and the ritual side of the Old Testament worship.
The temple consisted of several parts: a courtyard where people could enter, and an altar on which burnt offerings were offered (they burned the sacrificed animals and birds). The porch separated the secular part from the sanctuary, where only priests could enter, and only the high priest could enter the "holy of holies" once a year on the feast of purification. In the courtyard, where blood sacrifices were made for various reasons, for this, animals and birds were sold, and coins were also exchanged, which people could also donate.
All this took place in the courtyard, which was part of the temple, and not behind its fence. This angered the Savior, and he dispersed all these merchants and changed.
What is happening in modern temples? Is there a similarity between selling candles and a bazaar selling rams, sheep and pigeons? No. Selling candles in no way interferes with prayers in the temple, especially if you consider that in many temples candle boxes are located in the narthex or even taken out into the street in separate rooms.
Moreover, today it is already recognized that the sale of candles, prayer books and crosses in church shops is not a commercial activity. The Patriarchate has repeatedly stated this. The fact is that the legislation of the Russian Federation really stands on the side of the Church, seeing in parochial trade only a form of donation, when the added value of the distributed goods is considered not a commercial income, but a charitable contribution of the “buyer”, a voluntary sacrifice for church needs.
If we turn to the texts of the laws, the key ones here will be Article 251 of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation and Article 17 of the Federal Law "On freedom of conscience and on religious associations." First, it establishes a list of sources of income that are not included in taxation. It is she who deducts from taxes the income received by a religious organization from "the sale of religious literature and religious items" and the amounts transferred to the Church "in connection with the performance of religious rites."
Article 17 of the law "On freedom of conscience and on religious associations", in turn, allows religious organizations to produce, acquire, export, import and distribute religious literature, printed, audio and video materials, as well as "other items of religious significance" religious organizations, among other things, have the priority right to establish enterprises for the production of these same items.