Russian Orthodoxy, Religion, and Society: After Communism

Russian Orthodoxy, Religion, and Society: After Communism

Russian Orthodoxy, Religion, and Society: After Communism

Russian Orthodoxy, Religion, and Society: After Communism

Synopsis

Zoe Knox explores the social & political role of the Russian Orthodox Church & its relationship to civil society in post-communist Russia. She shows how prelates, clergy & laity have shaped attitudes towards religious & ideological pluralism & provides an analysis of divisions within the church.

Excerpt

The Russian Orthodox Church is the most powerful symbol of Russian statehood, tradition and culture. Orthodoxy is frequently invoked in discussions of post-Soviet revival and regeneration in the political as well as the social and cultural arenas. For these reasons, many politicians, from all positions on the political spectrum, regard the Moscow Patriarchate as a powerful institutional ally. Chapters 2 and 3 of this study evaluated the unofficial influence of Russian Orthodoxy on the emergence and development of civil society. It established that through the informal channels of dissent (in the Soviet era) and reform movements and lay activism (in the post-Soviet era) Orthodoxy has had a significant influence on the advancement of civil society and thus Russia's democratic project. This chapter turns to the official influence of Orthodoxy on civil society in postcommunist Russia.

Many of the Church's activities leave the sphere of civil society, that of social self-organisation, and enter into the political sphere. This breaches the separation of church and state enshrined in the 1993 Russian Constitution. the Moscow Patriarchate promotes an enhanced political role and seeks to cooperate with the state on a wide range of social, educational, economic and even defence issues. in this respect, it appears that the Church leadership desires a return to the Byzantine symphonic ideal, under which is envisaged the dual rule of the temporal and the ecclesiastical authorities. Symphonia (in Russian simfoniia or konkordantsiia) places the Church on an equal footing with the state. the extent to which the Moscow Patriarchate promotes symphonia is the key concern of this chapter: the doctrine is incompatible with civil society and religious pluralism.

Despite Church dignitaries' claims that the status of a state church is undesirable and would be detrimental to the Church as a whole, the close links between Church and state have allowed the Orthodox Church considerable privileges which are not extended to other denominations. the legislation On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations, the reconstruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the debate surrounding the reburial of Tsar Nicholas ii, cooperation with the military, financial privileges accorded by the state and Church-state collaboration

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