Challenges of the Global World

Author: Metropolitan Hilarion

Challenges of the Global World: Secularism and Religious Beliefs

Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the

Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk

TODAY, the world is facing an acute problem of correlation between the religious and the secular and, hence, the problem of coexistence of believers and secularists in contemporary society.

Active discussions have added edge to both issues. No wonder: transformations based on secular ideology launched by the Enlightenment and designed to uproot religion never reached the final aim. Religion is not dying out - it is very much alive. Actively suppressed and squeezed out it revitalizes with a new force and new ability to attract hearts and minds.

In the past this happened more than once.

Moscow, 9 June 2010

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The Bolsheviks who in 1917 seized power in Russia made the struggle against religion and its manifestations a lynchpin of their ideological program. The Moloch of militant atheism did not distinguish between bishops, priests, monks or laity. Wives of the repressed clerics were not spared either; their children were sent to orphanages for the "children of the enemies of the people" to be brought up as atheists. Followers of all religious traditions - Christians, Muslims, Judaists, and Buddhists - were persecuted and repressed.

This was done under the "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" slogan inherited from the French Revolution. When applied to religion Liberty was highly limited: Art 124 of the Stalin Constitution of 1936 said in part "Freedom of religious worship and freedom of antireligious propaganda is recognized for all citizens" which meant that religious practices were limited to worship while atheism could be freely promoted. Realities were even harsher: the very fact of belonging to the Church was interpreted as a challenge to Soviet society and almost invariably cost believers their jobs and social status. In many cases, especially frequent in the 1920s and 1930s, religious ...

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