Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Reconstructing an Orthodox Nation: The Problem of Religious Freedom in Post-Soviet Russia
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Orthodox Church has emerged as an influential social and political force in the Russian Federation. Through major initiatives in religious education, social ministry, historical commemoration and interpretation, and renewal of parish life, the Church is seeking to construct a comprehensive Orthodox culture within Russian society. While affirming Constitutional separation of church and state, the Church nevertheless sees only historic Orthodoxy and its foundational narratives, symbols, and rituals as capable of uniting the Russian nation and defining its identity and aspirations among the nations of the world. My project will result in a major scholarly study of 1) the theological ideas that implicitly guide the Church in its relations to society and state, and 2) the implications of these ideas for questions of religious freedom both within the life of the Church and in relation to state policies.
John P. Burgess is Professor of Systematic Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Among his six books are The East German Church and the End of Communism, Why Scripture Matters, and Encounters with Orthodoxy. He has been a Fulbright Scholar to Russia, and in 2012 was a Luce Theological Fellow. His current research focuses on the rebirth of the Orthodox Church in Russia and the efforts of the Church to shape a post-communist national identity.