Russia and Religion : An Analysis of the Lockean Separation of Church and State in Contemporary Russia

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202109293775
Title: Russia and Religion : An Analysis of the Lockean Separation of Church and State in Contemporary Russia
Author: Felix, Bella
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Humanistinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts
Helsingfors universitet, Humanistiska fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2021
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202109293775
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/334707
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Venäjän tutkimuksen maisteriohjelma
Master's Programme in Russian Studies
Magisterprogrammet i ryska studier
Specialisation: ei opintosuuntaa
no specialization
ingen studieinriktning
Abstract: Is there a Lockean separation of church and state in contemporary Russia? The answer to this question has, for a long time, been yes, at least on paper. However recent amendments to the Russian secular constitution now include a mention of Russia’s belief in God. This is not the only piece of legislation in Russia that has adopted religious rhetoric. In fact, after a few decades of a complicated relationship, the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and the Russian state have increased their cooperation. Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have declared that Russian Orthodox values, are part of the newly promoted Russian identity. This acceptance of conservative Orthodox values as part of the Russian identity, has had its influence on Russian legislation and thus Russian society. Examples of this are restrictions on abortion, the ban on ‘homosexual propaganda’, the importance of the family and traditional gender role in society etc. This has an influence on the status of the Lockean separation of church and state in Russia. Lockean because this thesis utilizes John Locke’s theory of tolerance, slightly adapted to the modern context, to analyse the status of the separation of church and state in contemporary Russia. A secular state is defined here as a state with not just a separation of institutions, but also one with freedom of conscience based on the idea of tolerance. This policy of tolerance entails that a government 1) cannot deprive any citizen of their civil rights based on their values, 2) they cannot prosecute a citizen based on their values and 3) a government cannot impose a certain belief system on their citizens directly or indirectly. These three criteria form the theoretical framework of this thesis. The case materials of this thesis include the Bases of the Social Concept by the ROC to analyse what values they promote, speeches by Putin that outline foreign and domestic policy to show that the Russian government also promotes Orthodox values, and Russian federal legislation regarding family values to analyse the effect of the values of the ROC on Russian legislation. After studying federal legislation affected by the adoption of Orthodox values this thesis concludes that although criteria 1) and 3) are violated to some extent, there is not enough proof that criteria 2) is affected. Discourse in Russian legislation has gotten more religious, but in practice this religious influence has not led to Russian citizens being prosecuted for things like getting an abortion or falling in love with someone of the same sex. However, an increased cooperation between church and state has led to the dilution of the separation between the religious and the secular, and the Russian government has started using the conservative values of the church as a political tool to suppress those who think differently or are critical of the government.
Subject: Russian Orthodox Church
Religion
Secular
Traditional
Values
Locke


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