Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Another theocracy?

The Russian Orthodox Church plays a large role in Russian history and Russian cultural identity. Some Russians claim that the Russian Church is the last vestige of real Christianity because of the Enlightenment in the west and fall of Byzantium in the east. By extension that makes Russia the last vestige of real civilization.

After decades of suppression and submission to Soviet power, the Russian Church is once again near the seats of power. And near the Russian president.

Russians See Church and State Come Closer
Archimandrite Tikhon
As the Russian Orthodox Church continues its ascent as a political force, Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov stands at the center of a swirling argument about the church’s power and its possible influence on President Vladimir V. Putin.

Father Tikhon, a former film student, presides over the 14th century Sretensky Monastery here, near the headquarters of the former KGB…

Some critics belittle Father Tikhon as a publicity hound. But others, who see him as a rising power broker, call him a promoter of a rigid Orthodox fundamentalism. That is a charge he dismissed as “nonsense.”

The old debate over the role of the Orthodox Church and its relationship to the state broke into the open most recently over the conviction of members of the punk band Pussy Riot for staging an anti-Putin stunt at Moscow’s biggest cathedral…

In this atmosphere, Father Tikhon’s ties to Mr. Putin have come under scrutiny. He had already attracted attention in 2008, for writing and narrating a television documentary that depicted the fall of Byzantium as a parable about the threats to modern Russia. The film was derided by liberals as pandering to Mr. Putin’s worldview of a virtuous Russia under threat from foreign forces…

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