Representing a translation of the keynote address delivered at the international conference “The Varieties of Russian Modernity II: Religion, State, and Approaches to Pluralism in Russian Contexts,” this article relates some of the key findings of Werth’s recent monograph, The Tsar’s Foreign Faiths: Toleration and the Fate of Religious Freedom in Imperial Russia (Oxford University Press, 2014). It posits that religious freedom represents one major marker of modernity and goes on to recount the complex process by which religious freedom appeared in the years leading up to World War I. The presentation first briefly considers the Muscovite inheritance and the conception of religious toleration that resulted from that historical experience. It then discusses toleration in the imperial period, treating it as a matter of both practice and ideology. It finally examines the difficult and incomplete transition in Russia from “religious toleration” to “freedom of conscience.” The presentation demonstrates that just as modernity itself appeared gradually and with much contradiction, so too the development of religious freedom in Russia was beset by tensions and competing imperatives that complicated its progress.
Zwahlen The Lack of Moral Autonomy in the Russian Concept of Personality: A Case of Continuity across the Pre-Revolutionary, Soviet and Post-Soviet Periods?1
The Soviet Union experienced its revival of the notion of personality (lichnost’) in Soviet academic discourse in the 1960s. Due to the fact that all these changes were embedded within the Soviet discourse of the scientific-technological revolution, this article takes a closer look at the specific twist the context might have given to the idea of the ‘all-round developed personality.’ The Soviet concept of the person is torn between an ardent faith in the creative individuality of the ‘new man’ and a deep mistrust of man’s ability to rise up to this expectation, let alone by autonomous initiative. Therefore Zwahlen argues that the Soviet concept of personality lacked neither concepts of individuality nor creativity, but rather a concept of ‘moral autonomy’ of the type associated with Kantian philosophy. Moreover, the lack of a concept of moral autonomy can be observed not only in the Soviet, but also in the Russian notion of personality in general. The article concludes with brief reflection on some consequences of this diagnosis for Russian contexts today.
Multiculturalism and Religious Education in the Russian Federation: The Fundamentals of Religious Cultures and Secular Ethics
Over the last decade, the Russian Federation has turned sharply away from the secular foundations of its 1993 constitution and moved toward the model of a confessional state — a model that strikingly resembles the state-sponsored hierarchy of religions in the nineteenth-century Russian Empire. Increasingly, the Russian state actively cooperates with certain favored religious organizations, labeled “traditional,” to achieve its social and political goals. One of the clearest manifestations of this developing relationship between the state and “traditional” religious institutions is the Fundamentals of Religious Cultures and Secular Ethics, a new national program of spiritual and moral education for the public schools. Since September 2012, all pupils in fourth and fifth grades must take a total of 34 hours of the Fundamentals, designed to promote religious tolerance, patriotism and morality. In their current form, the Fundamentals represent a compromise between advocates of confessionalization, who argue for the benefits of greater religious influence on the state, and strict secularists.
Orthodox Traditionalism in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania: The Ethnicization of Religion as the “Internal Mission” of the Russian Orthodox Church
An especially important concept with which religion has been linked in the public consciousness, and on which it directly depends, remains the concept of tradition. “Traditionalism” is a quality directly related to the characteristics implicitly ascribed to “real” religion: invariability, orderliness, the ability to provide a model of stability to a changing society, which is subject to rapid, painful transformations, and is thus in need of ideal paradigms of guaranteed stability and historical rootedness. The central focus of this article is the information policy of the structures of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania. This ‘inculturation’ policy seeks to create an image of the Ossetian people as the natural vessel of an ancient Orthodox culture, inherited from their ancestors, the Alans, who accepted Christianity in the tenth century. This kind of “ethnicization of Orthodoxy” — that is, the effort to overcome the ironclad associative link between the concepts of “Russianness” and “Orthodoxy” in order to present the latter as the “native faith” of non-Russian ethnic groups — represents a marked tendency in some Russian Orthodox eparchies’ religious policy.
Konstantin Kostjuk (2013). The History of Social-Ethical Thought in the Russian Orthodox Church. (Istoriia sotsial’no-eticheskoi mysli v Russkoi pravoslavnoi tserkvi). Saint Petersburg: Aleteia (in Russian). – 448 pages.
Vera Zabotkina (Ed.). (2012). Russia: The Changing Image of Time through the Prism of Language. The Representation of the Concept of Time in Russian in Comparison with English and German. (Rossiia: Izmeniaiushchii obraz vremeni skvoz’ prizmu iazyka; Repre
Mikhail Smirnov (Ed.). (2012). Protestantism: Pro et Contra. Russian Authors’ Views and Polemics from the Sixteenth through the Early Twenty-First Centuries. (Protestantizm: pro et contra. Vzgliady i polemika otechestvennykh avtorov v XVI–nachale XXI veka