Russian Orthodox Symphonia in the Time of Coronavirus

Mikhail Antonov is a Professor of Law associated with the Law Faculty at the National Research University “Higher School of Economics” (Saint Petersburg)

 

In “The Basis of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church,” adopted at the Sacred Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (the ROC) on August 14, 2000, the Church referenced the medieval conception of Symphonia to describe the church’s ideal relationship with the Russian state in terms of  “body” (state) and “soul” (church): “it is in their linkage and harmony that the well-being of a state lies.”  According to the Social Concept, the ROC affirms the general principle of separation of church and state, which is that they shall be distinguished by their competences or spheres of authority, and that cooperation must be based on “mutual support and mutual responsibility without one side intruding into the exclusive domain of the other” (section III.4).

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Covid-19, Religion and FoRB: 2020 Vision – Looking Backwards and Seeing the Way Forward. Reflections upon the Completion of the Covid-19 & FoRB Webinar Series

 

Since its launch in April 2020, our Covid-19, Religion and Belief webinar series has offered hundreds of academics, civil society, government, and religious leaders a space to reflect upon some of the consequences of the pandemic and its effects on freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). Using a cross-cutting approach, we looked at the impact of the pandemic at the intersection of religiosity, religious freedom, civil rights, the economy, and humanitarian aid.

The aim of our concluding webinar was to take stock of good practices and lessons learned and try to imagine what the world will look like six months from now. To accomplish this, this episode was slightly different from the others. We wanted this to be truly a participatory exercise. To this end, listeners were invited to respond to the question, ‘How has Covid-19 impacted your region, what you have learned from this experience, and what you will do (or think should be done) moving forward?’

To capture this final webinar, and review the entire series, we have compiled the posts by Brett Scharffs, Pasquale Annicchino, Judd Birdsall, and Marco Ventura.
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Judd Birdsall: Reflections upon the Completion of the Covid-19 & FoRB Webinar Series

Judd Birdsall is Director of the Cambridge Institute on Religion & International Studies at the Centre for Geopolitics at Cambridge University

Dramatic moments and extreme cases often help to clarify issues, expose boundaries, and create opportunities for fresh thinking. The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of those moments for a whole range of issues, including issues related to religion.

As I reflect on the past several months of the pandemic and on the 14 weeks of our webinar series exploring the religious dimensions and religious freedom implications of the lockdown, I am struck by three main observations.

First, the lockdown has provided a civics lesson on the permissible limitations on freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). Second, the varied religious responses to the pandemic have reminded us of the “ambivalence of the sacred.” Third, the lockdown has had significant—and divergent—impacts on levels of religiosity. Let’s explore each of these observations in turn. Continue reading “Judd Birdsall: Reflections upon the Completion of the Covid-19 & FoRB Webinar Series”