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Church and Dictatorship

July 30th, 2009 by Myrhaf · 6 Comments · Foreign Affairs

Bad news out of Russia for those of us who watch the rise of religion with concern:

Two stunning initiatives from the Russian government over the past few weeks illustrate a disturbing fusion of religion and politics as Vladimir Putin’s regime makes a final effort to consolidate dictatorship.

First, the government announced that it would consult the Russian Orthodox Church before introducing any legislative proposals in parliament, in essence giving the church a veto on legislation and allowing the church to promote an openly religious agenda in parliament.

Then, the regime declared it would begin teaching Orthodox religion in schools, ignoring the constitutional requirement of separation of church and state. Study of other Christian faiths, like Protestantism and Catholicism, has already been ruled out, and it’s clear that the lip-service being paid to Islam is only window dressing.

The move gives Putin and the state a veneer of ideology and morality; and it gives the church power. Atilla, meet your witch doctor.

If I were a Jew, Muslim, non-Orthodox Christian or unbeliever in Russia, I’d be looking for a way out. Things could get ugly — and get so quick.

6 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew Dalton

    An under-appreciated fact about Ayn Rand is that she was philosophically anti-Russia, not merely anti-Soviet (as Solzhenitsyn was). The events of the past decade have definitely vindicated Rand’s view of Russia.

  • madmax

    That’s an excellent point Andrew. The Russian soul is thoroughly collectivist and it was made that way by centuries of Christianity. Solzhenitsyn himself was a typical traditionalist. It should come as no surprise that the likes of Larry Auster admire Solzhenitsyn and cite him as a traditionalist hero.

    Solzhenitsyn’s criticism of the West was the conservative one, namely that the West was decaying because of abandoning Christianity and embracing atheism. Wiki has him quoted as saying something essentially identical to what Whittaker Chambers said about ‘Atlas Shrugged’ – that it is “the calamity of an autonomous, irreligious humanistic consciousness.”

    He also wrote this:

    “[The West] has made man the measure of all things on earth—imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now paying for the mistakes which were not properly appraised at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility.”

    He is essentially prescribing Christianity as an antidote for Communism. And Putin is beginning to follow through on that. The Czars may yet return to rule Russia once more.

  • Michael Labeit

    Given that this is the RUSSIAN government we are talking about, I believe its less about religious motives and more about political power motives. For instance, surely the Kremlin would ignore any hypothetical request of the Church’s to end their campaign against Chechnya, though I don’t know the Ortho Church’s actual stance. Soldiarty with the Ortho Church is probably politically beneficial. Its a trade: the government exchanges (conditional) appeasement to religious authorities in favor of the religious vote.

  • TW

    “For instance, surely the Kremlin would ignore any hypothetical request of the Church’s to end their campaign against Chechnya, though I don’t know the Ortho Church’s actual stance.”

    Don’t look for Vatican-style pacifism from the average Orthodox patriarch. Most of them have frightening views. I disagree with Madmax. Orthodoxy is molded by Russia, not the other way around. If centuries of Christianity had really molded Russia, we would be looking at a very different Russia. A turning-the-other-cheek kind of place, which it is not at all.

  • Jeff

    Christianity is not the reason; it gained a foothold because of the Russian character. Before Christianity, the Russians were, without exaggeration, barbarians. The west, during the Christian era, had Rome and Greece to look back to; Russia never had any civilizing influence except what it, starting with Peter the Great, aped from Europe .

  • Andrew Dalton

    Here’s something creepy that I just remembered:

    Putin’s Patriotic Youth Camp

    Putin likely understands that an alliance with the Orthodox Church will have more ideological staying power than “Putin Youth” — or any other re-hash of 20th Century secular collectivism — would. But I’m sure that he remains open to all methods.