Here’s an interesting little commentary by John Couretas of the Action Institute about the future of the Russian Orthodox Church as it relates to the long history of Soviet repression and church accommodation or some would say, conspiracy.
The Russian Orthodox Church has been coming into its own for a few years now, and the path it takes towards a supremacy of faith or some form of accommodation for non-Orthodox religions depends on the election of the new Patriarch in February.
I think it’s hard or a bit galling for Americans to look at a church/state structure like Russia has traditionally maintained and is trying to re-invent, and equate that with the religious laissez-faire we have in America. Our free and easy way with religion has ensured its vibrancy but at the cost of traditional doctrine and the preservation of “the Church”. When Americans speak about going to church they do not have the faintest idea of what it means to have a unity of faith. Give credit to the Russians, that despite the most brutal repression, they still preserve the vision of a common Orthodox faith for an Orthodox country.
The reality of modern Russia is that non-Christian fringe faiths (Hare Krishnas, etc..), heresies (Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses) and various Evangelical or mainstream Protestant denominations have popped up or been resurrected. Some of these Protestant denominations, such as Lutherans and Baptists, and the Roman Catholic Church have had an historical presence in Russia since at least the 17th century, due to the expansion or contraction of borders, or the large numbers of European advisors and merchants who came into Russia at the invitation of Peter the Great. Would I feel so strongly in support of the predominance of Orthodoxy if I was a Baptist or an Evangelical rooting for the missionaries and house churches of Russia? Or turn it around completely and I can even understand how Muslims must feel about the singular position of Islam in the Middle East. At least it’s an easier position to accept with regard to Russia, that for 1000 years it’s been an Orthodox land and unless you’re planning on reverting back to paganism, Orthodox it should remain.