Term Paper: Russian Orthodox Religion

Pages: 7 (2327 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] The law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations" became official in October, 1990, Knox explains. It totally "contradicted the existing legislation" -- which was Stalin's 1929 degree "On Religious Associations" -- by allowing "far-reaching freedoms for religious communities," Knox continued.

The preamble to the new legislation had four objectives, presented here: a) to guarantee "citizens' right to express their attitude toward religion"; b) to guarantee the right "…to exercise religious rites"; c) to guarantee "equality regardless of religious conviction"; and d) to regulate "the activity of religious organizations" (Knox). However, two months later, when the Soviet Union was officially ended, that event also meant that the laws in existence at that time were null and void, and so with the new "Russian Federation" (filling in for the old Soviet Union) a new law had to be enacted so that freedom of religion could be a citizen right.

That law (which was actually written before the changeover to the Russian Republic) was called "On Freedom of Belief," and it was "widely regarded as more liberal than its Soviet predecessor," Knox continues. The "On Freedom of Belief" law had a provision against any form of discrimination that was related to the practice or the discussion or the actual belief in any religious faith; it also took a stand on the fact that the state and religious faith are separate and that there should be no interference by the state when it comes to any religious faith. This of course was a time of great joy for believers of the Russian Orthodox Church -- and other Christians that had been harassed and harmed by the communist regimes prior to the emergence of Gorbachev.

The revival of the monasteries and the seminaries of the Russian Orthodox Church is regarded, according to Knox, as "…one of the Church's greatest successes." Moreover, the teaching of Russian religious thought, the history of religion, and the history of philosophy -- banned under the communists -- were now perfectly acceptable as subjects to be taught at the theological academies, Knox explains. The monasteries increased in Russia from 81 in 1993 to 264 in 1996, an obvious boost to the Russian Orthodox Church because training priests is vital to the growth of the Church (Knox). Also, the number of religious societies linked to the Russian Orthodox Church grew from "…4,357 to 6,709" in the period 1993 to 1993, indicating a powerful new direction for the Church (Knox).

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is clear from a close review of the events that led to the demise of the old Soviet Union that Gorbachev was the architect of the new way of life in Russia. An article in The New York Times (Keller, 1988), points out that Gorbachev met with the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox church in April, 1988, to begin the steps that would be necessary to bring the Church back its freedom to practice its beliefs. The meeting in St. Catherine's Palace was believed to be "…the first publicized reception for religious leaders in the Kremlin in more than 40 years," Keller writes.

It is important to note that at the time of this meeting the communist party was still in existence, but nonetheless Gorbachev was determined to show the nation that he would not tolerate discrimination against any religion, and certainly not against the Russian Orthodox Church. At that time about 40 million people (out of a population of 280 million) considered themselves Christian believers, and the majority of those believers were Russian Orthodox believers. The meeting between Gorbachev and Patriarch Pimen of the Russian Orthodox Church was shown in television; Gorbachev was smiling when he said, "Believers are Soviet people, workers, patriots, and they have the full right to express their conviction with dignity" (Keller).

There is a great deal to learn from the Russian Orthodox Church and its history, and this paper has reviewed the origins of the Church, the growth of the Church, and the struggles the Church had to go through to survive. Those events are in fact examples of religious perseverance in the face of tyranny and political harassment. That's the main lesson from this research, and it applies universally for those anywhere in the world who wish to be free of unfair policies and hard-core official indifference.

Works Cited

Keller, B. (1988). Gorbachev Sees Church Leaders, Vows Tolerance. The New York Times.

Retrieved October 28, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com.

Kengor, P. (2008). The War on Religion. Global Museum on Communism. Retrieved October

26, 2013, from http://www.globalmuseumoncommunism.org.

Knox, Z. (2013). Russian Society and the Orthodox Church: Religion in Russia after

Communism. Florence, KY: Routledge Books.

Negrov, A.I. (2008). Biblical Interpretation in the Russian Orthodox Church: A Historical and Hermeneutical Perspective. Tubingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck.

Orthodox Church in America.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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