A new book edited by Alexey Malashenko and Sergei Filatov has been released by the Carnegie Moscow Center, together with the Russian Political Encyclopedia publishing house (ROSSPEN), as part of the “Religion in Eurasia” series.
The collection of articles entitled “Twenty Years of Religious Freedom in Russia” is the third book in the “Religion in Eurasia” series, dedicated to various issues concerning religion. It has been published within the framework of the Carnegie Moscow Center's “Religion, Society, and Security” program. The first book in the series—“Religion and Globalization”—was published in 2005, and the second—“Religion and Conflict”—in 2007.
The book is based on reports given during seminars held at the Carnegie Moscow Center from 2007 to 2009. It analyzes the processes of religious life in Russia, the stages of the country’s religious revival, and the relationship between various denominations and the state. It also examines legislation and its application to the activities of religious organizations.
In the collection's opening piece, “The Vibrant Blossoming of the Enchanted Garden of Russian Spirituality...,” the author, Sergei Filatov, discusses the dramatic growth of religious diversity in Russia, which is fundamentally changing the situation in the country. Filatov notes that from 1990 to 2000, practically all the religious movements that had been present in Russia before 1917 came back to life.
Vladimir Vigilyansky devotes his attention to the revival of Russian Orthodoxy and describes the evolution of the relationship between Orthodoxy and the state in Russia. The chapter's conclusions underscore Vigilyansky’s belief that “The Orthodox Church has the potential to revitalize the nation.”
Despite obvious progress, this process is not taking place easily.
The author of another article, lawyer Anatoly Pchelintsev, writes about the formation of the legal foundations of religion and of religious associations’ activities in Russia. He maintains that despite obvious progress, this process is not taking place easily. The author emphasizes research methodologies, examining several approaches, including the apologetic approach (both the religious and atheistic versions) and the scientific-rational approach.
Yuly Nisnevich's article examines the attitude of the secular state towards religion, as well as the political and legal conceptualizations of this relationship.
The author of the next chapter, Aleksander Verkhovsky, continues this theme in analyzing the possibilities that exist for religious organizations to pursue “ideological engineering.”
Elena Volkova writes about the interrelation of religion and artistic culture.
Alexey Malashenko draws some conclusions about the past twenty years of the development of Islam in Russia, emphasizing that a revival of Islam has taken place in Russia, that an ideology of Islamic identity is being formed, and that the Muslim organizational structures have been rebuilt. Today, despite its specific historical and cultural particularities, Russia’s Muslim community possesses all the main features characteristic of the world’s Islamic development, including the ideas that are common throughout the Islamic world.
Aleksander Ignatenko examines the idea that the followers of radical Islam who have gained a foothold in the Russian Federation — first and foremost in the North Caucasus — are declaiming freedom of religious convictions, imposing their own views upon Muslims, even though these views are alien to the local traditions (either fundamentalist or Salafite). This, writes the author, is provoking a schism in the Muslim community and destabilizing the political situation, both in Muslim regions, and throughout the entire country.
Elena Ostrovskaya writes about Russian Buddhism “in the framework of civil society.” She believes that the new social phenomenon of the “Russian Buddhist” is being formed as a denominational identity and that Buddhism is being revived as one of the traditional religions of the peoples of Russia.
A hot issue today is the phenomenon of new religious movements, which Roman Lunkin analyzes in his article. These movements, in his opinion, have become real evidence of religious freedom — a vivid example of citizens’ increased interest in religion, as well as their aspiration to go beyond the scope of standard (for Russian society), “traditional” conceptions of religion.
Full text of the book is available in Russian.