Politics and Religion in Central and Eastern Europe: Traditions and Transitions

By William H. Swatos Jr | Go to book overview
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Religio-Nationalist Subcultures under the Communists: Comparisons from the Baltics, Transcaucasia, and Ukraine

Hank Johnston

Theories of modernization predict the waning of religious faith and the demise of religious institutions. Science, it is said, attacks faith by calling into question spiritual explanations of the world and by undermining literal interpretations of religious teachings. Industrialization and its companion, urbanization, break the fetters of kin and village culture on which traditional religious hegemony is based. In the West, science, industry, and associated changes in social structure have weakened the religious world view, although far from eliminated it entirely. But when the social theorist turns to the former Soviet Union, the repressive force of the state and official atheistic campaigns would seem likely to compound the processes of secularization, making predictions of religious demise all the more compelling.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, however, religious institutions have taken an unanticipated place on the social and political stage. In Russia, there has been a religious revival, and the Russian Orthodox church has been resurrected as a national symbol. In minority- national republics, the affinity between religion and the collective definition of a nation has been emphasized even more.

In this chapter, I focus exclusively on the association between religion and nationalism in the peripheral republics: the Baltic states, Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia. The key question I ask is why, despite

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