The Russian Federation is a secular state. No religion may be established as a state or obligatory one.
(The constitution of the Russian Federation, chapter 1, article 14)
Probably it’s not an article in its accepted sense. Not just a stream of fresh information. What I’d like to offer you is something closer to an outcry a certain country’s citizen. The country is Russia, by the way.
It’s not that, being born here, I always agree with all the accusations towards the Russian government, which I occasionally come across while reading Western newspapers or watching Western TV channels. Definitely not.
Yet there’s something just too obvious and insulting to be passed by. Something ridiculous even for a native Russian, who is used to any so-called ‘peculiarities’ of this country. Something that cannot either be accepted or ignored in a democratic state, which Russia claims to be. Yet I do witness this all the time, and, being, if not a patriot, but at least a sane Russian, I just can’t leave it for my own reflexion. It has to be shared.
I’d like to tell you about a violation of law. What makes this particular case unique is that this kind of violation isn’t just common, but is, in a fashion, supported by the government.
The violator in question is Russian Orthodox Church.
Once upon a time, in the year of 988 AD, the Grand Duke of Kiev, Vladimir the First, decided the time was up for consolidating the state and extending his power to the far reaches of the Kievan Rus. Yet there were too many different peoples on the country’s territory – so the idea of creating a national state was out. But the Duke didn’t lose his countenance. He found another way – and this tool was religion. Due to the strong economic ties with Byzantine Empire the most convenient option turned out to be Orthodoxy. No one inside the Rus was offered the choice whether to follow Orthodoxy or not. There was no plea for people to baptize – it was an order. Those who defected were punished by death.
Wanna learn the reason for offering this story about the ancient times? The question is obvious – since then very few things have changed.
There seems to be just the same pattern, except for the moratory on death sentence and the article of the Constitution proclaiming the introduction of a secular state.
But, mind you, this is Russia. The bill prohibiting any ‘offence’ towards ‘the feelings of believers’ appears to be an appalling example of how the Supreme Law may be bent.
From nobody, except fellow atheists, have I ever heard any sort of criticism concerning
the accumulation of wealth by the Church. The Patriarch, among all his possessions, owns a $1 bln mansion on the seaside and a Breguet watch for about 30,000 €. This individual, whose wealth is estimated to be $4 bln is, let me remind you, the champion for the rights of those poor and miserable.
But it is them who donate their scarce income, literally to the last rouble, to the Church for building new places of worship and reconstructing the old ones alongside with making the clergymen glitter with gold (gold isn’t always fake).
Sometimes (luckily, not always and invariably) people are made to follow religion since their earliest childhood years. No consensus – either religion or becoming an outcast in one’s own family. Religion is taught, or, I would say, imposed on children at school. Occasionally even new military machines, such as tanks, are blessed(!) by the Patriarch or other Church officials. ( I wonder whether this would boost their efficiency & their firepower.)
This might seem ridiculous, but, when bringing up these problems while talking to different people, I realize one thing – there seems to be no initiative for a change. That doesn’t mean that everyone is in favour of Orthodoxy’s expansion. The society simply doesn’t care. Or maybe doesn’t dare to raise its voice? To me, with my Russian state of mind, the mystery behind the inaction is beyond understanding.
I’ve always had the feeling that I have the right to protest. Yet when I insist that the Russian Orthodox Church is nothing but a wealth-accumulating machine robbing the people while affecting their emotions, robbing those most vulnerable, with the obvious government support, in most cases I’m ignored, or harassed, verbally so far. Or told that in several years I’ll myself admit the existence of God and accept the Church’s vicious teachings overloaded with ignorance and lacking the very essence of common sense. Some even refer to the fact that I was christened( when I was six moths old) and thus destined to become a true and devout Orthodox.
These guys are wrong, though – anyone with a functioning brain won’t ever come to terms with such a Church. Still, atheists and sane believers are in limited numbers. I’ve already said this and let me say the same thing again – the majority just don’t bother to either act or even think about the whole scale of this cultural disaster. Why do you think the people of Russia are so quiet about this topic? Share your opinion in comments.