Orthodoxy, Politics and Public Consciousness in Modern Russia
In Russia, unlike classical «oriental societies» and like classical western societies, there is an obvious division of the society in accordance with their attitude to the religion and the church.. However this division - still? - enters the sphere of public politics only sporadically. A prospective of forming a party-political system in Russia will to a certain extend depend on the emergence polity of an active and politically engaged orthodox electorate. And — contrary to what many scholars would believe - this possibility is not at all an illusion. Facing numerous objective and subjective difficulties, the Orthodox Church has found a solid position in the post-soviet polity and not only in the institutional but also in the cultural sense of the word. And the high interest to everything dealing with the matters of faith - and the Orthodoxy in particular - is a proof to that.
Orthodox religion is one of the main constructive elements of the Russian State and Society. But today for the first time in the Russian history Orthodox Church became really independent from the state. The article analyses different forms of Church-State relations which took part in history and demonstrates the uniqueness of present situation. On the other hand the attitudes toward the Church and religion in the contemporary Russian society are examined with the help of all-Russian sociological data obtained by the author in 1997. The main conclusions the aythor has arrived at are:
a) Church-State relations in Russia are developing in the direction of closer interaction in the spirit of the decisions of 1917/18th Russian Church Council;
b) the contemporary Russian society is in the state of pretty fast transition from militant antireligious or indifferent orientation to religion and Church. This new orthodoxilisation of Russia will most likely determine our society in visible future.
Basing on the data of the most prominent sociological research centers of Russia, the author shows that the process of the Renaissance of religious orientations is complicated and contradictory enough. People have to cover a long way from being inclined to the faith to the formation of a vivid religious outlook. The Church that has been authorized to open new parishes and Sunday schools, to distribute literature and broadcast services still failed to overcome the atheistic attitudes that had been developed by many Russians during the soviet period.
The Orthodox Politics: Points of View
The article defines the role of the Russian Orthodox Church as a non-party subject of the internal and the external policy. The author argues that there is an organic link between faith - ethics and politics. The article summarizes the role of the Constantinopolitain Ecumenical Church in the formation of Russia as an integral state and later, as an Empire. The author considers the hierarchy of the Christian politics to be as follows: church - nation - state. The author also introduces the criteria of the religious policy of the state, that had been formulated back in 1917 and remain valid up till now.
Today we witness the emergence of two rather influential trends that determine the style of the religious life and that of the state-church relations in the free Russia. The first of them was I formed in the political structures of post-communism and was aimed at making Russia a clerical state (transforming the state from secular to confessional Jnational-Orthodox in form and totalitarian by nature). The second trend came from the Church itself, uniting the clerics and the laymen of Church of the majority who were seeking for Orthodoxy the status of a state religion – if not I de-jure, them de facto. Are those trends dangerous f and if yes to what extent are they dangerous? There is no doubt they are dangerous but it is possible to bar them, and the best time to do it is just now, before they merge into one flow and while on there way there is still a) the Constitution and the rule-of-the-law that guarantee ideological and religious divergence in the society, b) principled position of the ROC, reflected in official documents of the Hierarchy that declared the independence of the Church from the State c) the readiness of a substantial part of the population — believers in general and Orthodox believers in particular included - to stand up for the equality of everybody before the Law that for the first time in history had been acquired by the people.
The article stresses traditionally positive relations between the adepts of Orthodoxy and of Islam, Buddhism and Judaism.. Each of the confessions has its own specific roots and has its national-cultural influence limits. The relations may get more acute and even grow into conflicts if any of the confessions tries to spread its influence among the adepts of other world religions. The author underlines the claims of the Russian Orthodox Church for a special status, for the most favorable treatment policy on behalf of the state that run counter to the constitutional principles of the secular nature of the Russian state and the equality of all religions before the Law. Such claims may seriously undermine the inter-confessional relations in Russia.
The author classifies all Russian political parties in accordance with the role of religion in their political programs; public disputes around the law «On the freedom of Consciousness and Religious Associations» are also discussed.
Using solid factual data the author analyses the evolution of religious life of the Russian society in the 90-s: the Renaissance of religious institutes, the decisions of the President of the RF and of the government regulating the relations between the State and the Church, the spread of new religions etc.
The authors give a detailed list of laws, decrees, orders and resolutions of the state organs of the RF regulating the relations between the State and the Church.
The bibliography gives certain idea about the boom in publishing religious and quasi-religious literature that is characteristic of Russia of the 90-s. The material is not aimed at providing information about all publications on this subject. The aim was to single out the main blocks of problems and the most typical theses that were widely discussed.