Staunton, March 17 – The amendments that will include a reference to God and define marriage as between a man and a woman represent not only the affirmation of traditional values but a further break with the Soviet past, according to Roman Lunkin, one of Moscow’s leading commentators on religion.
Lunkin, the deputy director of the Institute of Europe, says that “in essence, only faith and the family built on Biblical covenants link us with the Christianity of the pre-Soviet past … and support a feeling of continuity of history and generations even if in reality this has not been the case for a long time” (ng.ru/ng_religii/2020-03-17/10_483_vision.html).
As such, the religious affairs specialist says, these amendments are the latest steps “over the last 30 years to overcoming the heavy Soviet inheritance” as is the provision about “’the state-forming Russian people,” which like them stresses “the self-determination of Russia” relative to the rest of the world.
But what is especially important is that they “objectively separate Russia from the Soviet Union and allow it no longer to appear that the Russian Federation is not only an heir but a smaller copy of the USSR.”
According to Lunkin, for the last three decades, there has been a fight between two ideological directions, “the anti-Soviet which does not find any justification for the socialist ‘experiment,’” and what may be called “’the Soviet’” which views that period as an integral and proud part of Russian history.
It is worth noting, he continues, that “representatives of the ‘Soviet’ direction most of all have criticized the possibility of mentioning God in the Constitution, insisting that it contradicts the secular nature of the state and represents the advance of ‘clericalism.’” Bolshevik intolerance toward religion is also being continued by liberals as well.
At the same time, “the traditionalism of Russian Orthodoxy besides the profession of family values, includes within itself an anti-Soviet ideology.” And that means that the restoration of traditionalism for it and others means a restoration of ties with the pre-1917 past alongside criticism of the Soviet period.
“The outlines of a conservative Russian state were formed in the last decade on the background of the need for Russia to define itself in relationship to the West and the growing division of the Western world between traditionalists and conditional liberals.” Russia, he says, has “chosen as its path democratic conservatism.”
That position is “based on the personality of Vladimir Putin” and thus, “rephrasing the words of Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, one can say that Putin is the conservative state,” who looks to the support of the Russian Orthodox Church and traditional religions and supports the defense of Christianity abroad.
This “turn to traditionalism,” Lunkin continues, “is extraor4dinarily important for Russian Orthodoxy (other religions and confessions as a rule support the ROC as the leader of religious life.). On the one hand, it is a chance to remind society about its moral obligations and the importance of observing Christian teachings.”
“And on the other hand, the responsibility of the church itself before society and the state rises because namely the church historically has the spiritual authority for assessing what corresponds to ‘faith in God’ and what does not correspond to it,” he argues.
With the adoption of these amendments, Lunkin suggests, “the ROC can become a unique ‘constitutional court’ issuing this or that decision. For the church already has shown itself to be a democratic institution of civil society.” Consequently, it shares with the state “responsibility for the fate of the conservative state ideology.”