PYRRHIC VICTORY OF ORTHODOXY
RRN - by Dmitry Frolov - Sovershenno Sekretno, No. 7, July 2003
That the succession to the throne in the Russian Orthodox church (MP) is being discussed
today not only among clergy seems completely natural. Never in modern Russian/Soviet
history have the Orthodox faith and church been so publicly respected as now.
One should not forget, however, that modern Russian history has graphically demonstrated to
us how greatly illusory is the officially demonstrated adherence of society to one or
another set of ideas and institutions. Just what is the true place of Orthodoxy in the
consciousness of the nation that once proudly called itself "God-bearing," and then lived
for the course of many decades under the theomachistic state, and now sees every Christmas
on the television screens the first persons of the country in an Orthodox church?
In search of an answer to this question we turned to doctor of historical sciences, the
chief scientific associate of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
Dmitry Furman. Among sociologists Professor Furman is well known for his series of
Russia-wide surveys which in the period from 1991 to 2002 investigated the place of
religion in the consciousness of postsoviet Russian society. They lay at the base of his
monograph "Old churches, new believers," but this did not make the results of his research
generally known. This happened because the scholar's conclusions, based on impartial
statistics, completely erased the grand picture of a return of Russians to the spiritual
heritage of the Orthodox church.
"We really do observe an Orthodox consensus in society. But this victory of the church is
so superficial and formal, like the recently past victory of the communist worldview in the
country of developed socialism," Professor Furman thinks. And this conclusion is confirmed
by the following statistics: more than 90% of those questioned display sympathy for the
institution of the church, more than 80% of Russians consider themselves Orthodox, although
only 7% attend church once a month. This number, reflecting the number of true believers,
gives evidence that there are fewer of them in our country than any other place in modern
Europe. A comparison with traditionally religious Poland, where 78% of the population
regularly attends church, is obviously incorrect. But even the most secular neighbors on
the continent display more impressive indicators. For example, in France, where the state
consistently conducts a policy of secularization, 12% of the population attends church.