Orthodox Christianity in Schools: Russian Faith as Ideology

  1. Lemma
  2. Православие в школах: русская вера как идеология
  3. Russian
  4. Asliturk, Miriam
  5. Ecumenism and dialogue > Education - Culture and national identities
  6. 12-07-2018
  7. Лункин, Роман Александрович [Author]. Православие в школах: русская вера как идеология
  8. Вопросы образования
  9. Russian Orthodox Church - Secondary education - Soviet Union - Propaganda - antisemitism - nationalism
  10. Click Here
    1. <p>Лункин, Роман Александрович (2006). Православие в школах: русская вера как идеология. <em>Вопросы образования</em>, (4), 301-310.</p>
    1. The introduction of the compulsory course “The Basics of Orthodox Culture” in secondary schools in Russia has provoked numerous protests of parents, pupils, and representatives of other confessions. Thus the mandatory teaching of the course failed in most regions of Russia. Many regional administrations replaced it with a course on local history or world art and cultural history, which included some elements of the “The Basics of Orthodox Culture”.

      According to the author, this is not surprising, given that the compulsory character of the course had features of Soviet propaganda with notions of "enemies of the people", "rotten West", and the greatness and uniqueness of the country and the people that live in it. The author maintains that these Soviet features in fact fit into the ideology of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian Orthodox Church also manifests a very ethnocentric orientation, which found its way into various textbooks and teaching manuals that were prepared by the church or church-related organizations. The author emphasises that the subject of these texts is "Russianness" no less than Orthodoxy.

      “The Basics of Orthodox Culture” course was to be based on Alla Borodina’s manual, which was harshly criticized for its anti-semitism. According to the author, the book also gives tough, propagandist-style instructions to students about the perception of Orthodoxy and the surrounding “sects.” Borodina pays the most significant attention to ideological clichés and “uses them with obvious pleasure.” However, not all regions accepted Borodina’s manual. Some, with the assistance of local Orthodox hierarchs, published their own school books, the most interesting being The Basics of the Orthodox Culture of the Smolensk Land, which was published under the general editorship of the metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad Kyrill (Gundyaev) and the Belgorod textbook, published with the blessing of Archbishop Ioann (Popov), the archbishop of Belgorod and Stary Oskol.

      Despite these valuable contributions, the introduction of “The Basics of Orthodox Culture” remains a highly debatable subject in Russia. The author argues that the ideology of the implementation of the course is authoritarian and nationalistic. The Russian Orthodox Church uses the discourse of the salvation of the Russian people and the “Holy Imperial-Soviet Russia” to violently introduce the course and give it a non-alternative character. Thus, the author points out, the secular nature of education, the rights of believers of other faiths, and any secular course on the "History of World Religions" are only a hindrance to the construction of a new post-Soviet Russia, where the church bureaucracy will dominate.