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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Religious Freedom in the Age of Coronavirus: Legal and Non-Legal Strategies for Finding Community and Hope

This post by Brett G. Scharffs , Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies is taken from remarks at the 2020  Religious Freedom Annual Review, Religion and Religious Freedom in the COVID-19 Era: Finding Community and Hope, an Online Discussion held  June 17, 18, and 19, 2020.

The current coronavirus pandemic as presents a kind of stress test upon us and upon the institutions to which we belong. As we strive to behave responsibly, avoiding crowds, wearing masks, physical distancing, this is surely a time that is testing the strength and resilience of the bridges that connect us one with another, a time that is trying our hearts.

We may find ourselves as if balanced on a razor’s edge, with despair lying on one side and rage on the other. We are already seeing evidence of mental and economic tolls this crisis is exacting, alongside the more obvious public health toll.  We are all affected by the horrific price the coronavirus has exacted. The toll upon those who have suffered the illness, and upon their families, is unfathomable: more than 7 million people worldwide have contracted it, many suffering terribly.  More than 400,000 have died. Continue reading “Religious Freedom in the Age of Coronavirus: Legal and Non-Legal Strategies for Finding Community and Hope”

The Rule of Law and the Place of Religion: Lessons from the Pandemic

Andrea Pin is Associate Professor of Comparative Public Law, University of Padua, and Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law & Religion Emory University.

This post is part of an ongoing Series about Religion and the Rule of Law.

The 2020 pandemic has been a challenge for the rule of law as well as for religions. Perhaps even more importantly and sadly, it has made them clash with each other.

During the pandemic, many states have seen religion as a threat. These states have behaved accordingly, limiting or even preventing many religious practices in ways that go beyond just affecting human rights to even, some might say, overstepping the boundaries between church and state. For example, the Italian Government temporarily permitted temple visits but prohibited religious celebrations, including liturgies such as the Eucharist for Catholics. In other words, it did not simply recommend that religions respect social distancing—it told them and their believers what they could or could not do. This comes at a price—for religions and states alike. Continue reading “The Rule of Law and the Place of Religion: Lessons from the Pandemic”