Skip to comments.The Russian Orthodox Church: Putin Ally or Independent Force?
Posted on 07/13/2018 11:47:15 AM PDT by CondoleezzaProtege
The image of the Russian Orthodox Church as the handmaiden of the state long prevailed in Tsarist Russia. After decades of Soviet persecution, this perception of the church has reemerged.
Some in Russia have leveled similar criticism, as in a public declaration by three provincial Orthodox priests: We urgently ask you to cease the shameful practice of blind collaboration with the authorities and every kind of dalliance with the wealthy in our country.
While church and state do collaborate in many areas, they have diverging perspectives and interests. The churchs adamant defense of autonomy stems from the calamitous Soviet experience. Although Putin ridicules the fantasy of restoring the Soviet Union, his regime valorizes Soviet achievements, not only the great victory in World War II but also the phenomenal economic growth under Joseph Stalin.
The church, however, holds a very different view: By 1941, this same regime perpetrated mass repression, including the incarceration or execution of several hundred thousand clergy and believers.
The church also fiercely opposes attempts to rehabilitate Stalins memory. Metropolitan Ilarion, has offered this assessment of Stalin: I think that Stalin was a monster, a spiritual freak, who created a horrendous, anti-human system for governing the country, based on lies, violence, and terror... Stalin is completely comparable to Hitler.
Another issue is Ukraine. The Moscow Patriarchate, with 36 percent of its parishes located in Ukraine, fears a massive defection to an autonomous Ukrainian Orthodoxy and has therefore distanced itself from the Crimean question."
Another point of contention between the church and the state is the restitution of church property, mostly church buildings, confiscated during Soviet times.
The church also has staked out positions at variance with the state on several sensitive issues. One is abortion, a major issue because the country has a high abortion rate.
(Excerpt) Read more at religionandpolitics.org ...
Unlike most churches in the USA, in the Orthodox tradition, the Church is a National Church. There is a Russian Orthodox Church, a Greek Orthodox Church, a Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and so on.
So in a fundamental way, the church is an arm of the state.
The Church of England established by Henry the Eighth adopted this model, but the US Constitution specifically prohibited any laws establishing a State religion.
Although the Orthodox churches are established by their Governments, they maintain their moral authority, like the conscience of the Government. They function as a moral watchdog of sorts - more in influencing policy behind the scenes, than in confronting the Government’s policies publicly. In fact, Orthodox Churches teach and advocate patriotism and support for the Government as part of their doctrine - that it is a good Christian’s moral/religious duty to be a good citizen of the State.
The Church however, also remains bound by some fundamental aspects of Christian doctrine, which could put them at odds with the Government, if the actions of the Government crosses certain extreme moral or doctrinal red lines - which would be their equivalent of a Constitutional crisis.
Well put. It is no wonder the law prohibiting the establishment of an official state church is enshrined in our Constitution. Right on top of the list, no less - as the 1st Amendment. Our founders were doing people of faith a big favor.
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