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Orthodox Christian Extremism: Theoretical Background and Implementation (Ideology and Practice)

Panel Chair: Liudmyla Fylypovych | Thursday, August 27, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Though mass media attention concentrates on Islamic extremism, the XXth century has provided numerous examples of Orthodox Christian extremism. XXIth century demonstrates an explosion of neo-pagan and Orthodox extremist views in Russia grounded on syncretic theory of "Russian World". Used as ideology and mass manipulation tool Russian Orthodoxy becomes a form of totalitarisation of all life's spheres, a threat to civil society. This fundamentalist system is currently been implemented in political life of Russia and neighboring countries. Religion-based "Russian World" does raise national pride, promotes national and religious identification of Russians, but for other peoples, even those of Orthodox faiths, it has become potentially conflicting because it: - considers Russian Orthodoxy superior to others religions and its believers having special right for ultimate truth - persecutes other religions by legislative prohibition, seizure of churches, physical destruction of clergy and believers. The most expressive manifestations of today's Orthodox extremism are the justified-by-religion crimes in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.

Liudmyla Fylypovych

Religious ideology that ruins the world

Orthodox church-Russian state doctrine "Russian World" has become the ideology of modern Russian neo-imperialism used to re-conquer countries liberated from the Soviets in 1991. The heart of "Russian World" is national Orthodox Christianity. In 2014 the Russian People's Council adopted the "Russian identity Declaration" which states: "every Russian shall be an Orthodox", thus violating human rights and freedoms. "Russian World is there, where Russians are!" - This geopolitical justification was used during annexation of Crimea and Donbas, where Moscow “protected” Russians as Orthodoxes, an can be used in any country.. Separatist regions of Donbas have declared Russian Orthodoxy as their "state religion". Other religions are prohibited, their believers -- persecuted and discriminated. Donbas gang "Russian Orthodox Army" systematically closes non-Orthodox churches. This social experiment creates Russian national and religious dictatorship in the conquered region – an occurrence Europe has not seen for centuries. World awaits for new “initiatives” from the Orthodox president.

Orivaldo Lopes Jr

Presence of Christian Theology in Contemporary Academic Thought: An historical change

The occidental and modern scientific statute has as fundamental article the clear demarcation between the peculiarity of the rational thought and other ways of thinking. We try to demonstrate trough this paper, an opposite tendency in the advanced Modernity: the construction of a two-way road between the academic thought and religion in the public square. We intent to focus here the academic realm as much more open to religious thought. In post-doctoral research presently developed at University of Padua, we concentrate in two Italian thinkers: Gianni Vattimo and Giorgio Agamben, in order to demonstrate that this interaction became possible as the result of exposition of itself in Public Square, practiced by Christianity, especially by their theologians. We intent to present how it happened, and what were the epistemological bases that permitted this kind of interaction. The relationship with the religious universe here practiced, shows some intellectual possibilities and caveats.

Anatoliy Kolodnyy

"Russian World" - the spiritual foundation of Russia’s imperial politics

The forerunner of today's "Russian World" was the XVth century Orthodox Christian ideology of "Moscow - the Third Rome". Its goal was legitimization of claims to the Byzantine legacy justified via concept of special spiritual mission of Moscovia. With the rise of Moscow Patriarchate in 1589 the concept became a guiding ideology of national policy (later implemented in the imperial credo of "Orthodoxy -- Autocracy -- Nation"), and its hostility to Catholicism and other denominations. After the collapse of USSR, the Russian Orthodox Church found itself to be the only Russian institution that had maintained and controlled the entire space of the former tsarist and Soviet empires. Justifying its actions with legacy of "historical Rus'", Moscow Patriarchy actively, often aggressively, spreads and imposes the "Russian World" to all peoples which have been involved in the history of Russia, including other religions' believers. The goal of "Russian World" is the return of imperial grandeur.

Vyacheslav Ageyev

Neo-paganism and Russian Orthodoxy – an explosive mix of religion and ideology

Neo-pagan ideas reach hundreds of thousands people in former-USSR countries. This aggressive pseudoreligion of "Russian World" is popular among youth, used in persecution of other religions' believers and ethnic minorities in Russia, and among bands fighting in Ukraine like Russian Orthodox Army. It incorporates: - “pagan” cryptohistory; - pseudo Vedism (similar to German Nazis Ariosophy with swastica cult and rune symbolism); - xenophobia, racism, antisemitism; - popular blend with Russian Orthodoxy, seeming theologically impossible at first glance, but providing an easy ideology, that justifies aggression much better than Orthodoxy with its moral and commandments like “you shall not murder”. Russia’s attempts to establish neo-paganism and its blend with Orthodox Christianity as a political religion armed with revanchism and notions of religious and racial superiority constitutes a great danger for neighboring states: it can be exported into Russian-speaking communities and used as combatant ideology, as the war in Ukraine has shown.

Jonathan Cahana

Transformation and Accommodation: Proto-Orthodox Christianity as an Adaptive Reform of Gnosticism

The emergence of Christianity is frequently portrayed as the result of a continuous struggle and conflict both between and within competing parties. The classical approach sees an early pure and unified Christianity from which heresies later splinter. Walter Bauer proposed a different influential scheme: a conflict between competing simultaneous Christianities. Much more recently, Karen King suggested that “heresy,” and specifically “Gnosticism,” never existed except as a rhetorical term that was nevertheless crucial in the development and demarcation of normative Christianity. Engaging the arguments of both Bauer and King, I will attempt a new paradigm: reading Christianity as an adaptive reform of Gnosticism. Since recent research has emphasized how Christianity celebrates but simultaneously accommodates most its subversive elements (e.g. Loughlin, 2), I will attempt an understanding of Proto-orthodox Christianity as adaptive transformation of an original subversive gnostic Christianity made in order to reduce its tensions with the surrounding Greco-Roman culture.


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