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Modern Russia Is In Search Of A Secular Model Of Relationships Between Religions And The State

1757 words - 8 pages

The common trends show that religious associations are becoming very active in XXI century. Practically all religious associations are vertically structured and have centralized management. Every religious association is a kind of organizational embodiment of certain religious practices. Such associations unite believers, guide them, and influence their religious and secular views. Nowadays, religious associations are the part of the Russian political system. Scientists note that “the leaders of “ethnic” religions play the most prominent role in social and political life”.
Thus, on the one hand, modern Russian legal system is secular. On the other hand, people have become very religious. ...view middle of the document...

Radicals have turned the problem of secularism of the state into the conflict between secular and religious models of Russian social structure. Radicals consider secularism as anti-religiosity, or atheism. Radicals believe that secularism fails to be effective. It does not reflect objective reality. Ideological neutrality will die out.
The now-deceased Patriarch Alexius II supported the more deliberate opinion. He believed that secularism of the state did not contradict the Christian view of the role of the Church in society, but it was important to him how people interpreted the term “secularism”. In “the Bases of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church” it is said that the principle of the secular state cannot be understood as implying that religion should be radically forced out of all the spheres of the people's life, that religious associations should be debarred from decision-making on socially significant problems and deprived of the right to evaluate the actions of the authorities. This principle presupposes only a certain division of domains between church and state and their non-interference into each other's affairs. Alexius II believed that the secular state could admit the prominent role of this or that religion in the process of spiritual and cultural education of people. This principle works in Greece and Cyprus where Orthodoxy is a religion recognized by law, but the states are secular. Russian orthodox priests think that there is nothing wrong about some governmental support of the most important religious associations, but religious associations should not perform the functions of public authorities in the secular state. Russian orthodox communities have initiated debates on the following topic: “Is Russia an orthodox Christian country, or a secular state?” Speaking about Russia as about an orthodox Christian country, Russian orthodox Christians take into consideration Russian history and the fact that Russian Orthodoxy is the largest denomination in the country.
“Religionists” belonging to other religions do not like this approach. For example, Russian Muslims are against of this view proposed by the Russian Orthodox Church. There is an academic letter on "clericalization of the country" that is a kind of response to the letter of the 10 academicians of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In this letter Muslims claim their protests against clericalization of Russia. The Muslims warn the public about the dangers of coming back to such relationships between religions and the state which used to be in Russia in the times of monarchy.
The second group of disputants can be called “secularists”. They are mostly scientists and representatives of public authorities. They are worrying about the dangerous trends towards clericalization of the state power. They see a kind of withdrawal from the principles of secularism in the field of education. They think that freedom of conscience is not provided equally for everybody....

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