The idea of a state church does not necessarily fill me with horror. It rather depends on the state. And it rather depends on the church. Given the history both of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church, this story (via the Economist’s new, must read, Eastern Approaches blog) is, however, more than a little worrying. Here’s a key extract:
IT WAS bad enough that an art exhibition attracted the attention of Russia’s criminal-justice authorities. It was worse that the exhibition was in Moscow’s Sakharov centre and museum, one of the few institutions in Russia that stands squarely behind the tradition of human rights, exemplified by the saintly physicist and dissident for whom it is named. Now prosecutors have said that they want the organisers of the 2007 “Forbidden Art” exhibition, the director of the centre, Yuri Samodurov, and Andrei Yerofeev, an art historian…, to be sentenced to a three-year jail term for “debasing the religious beliefs of citizens and inciting religious hatred”. Many say that the exhibition’s real crime was to highlight the overlap between official orthodoxy and the religious version.
Read the whole thing.