More than half (56%) of Russians believe that the Russian Orthodox Church and religious NGOs influence government policies as long as necessary, follows from the data of the study by the Levada center on the role of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). The survey was conducted in mid-February among 800 respondents over 18 years in 48 regions of the country.
This is the highest level of support for the role of the ROC for all time of carrying out such surveys since 1991. In August 2014, only 42% of Russians believed that the role of the Russian Orthodox Church and religious organisations in the state all right. In March 2013 satisfied with the role the Church and religious NGOs were 48% of Russians.
Heaviest query on the active participation of the ROC in public policy was observed in 1991, immediately after the collapse of the USSR, during the time of liberal reforms and transition to market economy. Then only 22% of Russians were satisfied with the role of the ROC, the rest were unhappy with the lack of Church in the life of the state.
The Russians want the Church increased influence on the maintenance of public morality. In February 2016, voted for it 47% of respondents, while in March 2013 called to it, 44%. But the government policy of the ROC shall not be affected, sure 28% of the respondents, 38% are inclined to this position.
The highest request on the Church’s influence on public morality and morality was the Russians after the collapse of the USSR and in July 2012. Then actively discussed the trial of members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, which ended for them with a prison term for hooliganism. In both these period, 50% of respondents wanted the ROC increased moral preaching in society.
At the same time, since March 2013 became more than those who wants the Church did not interfere in public life. If then the figure was 11%, in February 2015 against the ROC configured for 15% of the respondents. High levels of anti-clerical sentiment was recorded by sociologists only in January 2008.
The reduced role of the Church in public life and politics was less to bother the Russians — they are satisfied with the representation of the Russian Orthodox Church and religious organizations in the political agenda of the country as never before, says the pollster the Levada Center Karina Pipia. In many respects, such a high degree of satisfaction with the role of the ROC and credibility related to the fact that the current situation of the Church in Russian society, “legitimate” position of the Supreme leadership of the country and international situation, says the expert.
“The authorities constantly articulate the significant role of Orthodoxy as a component of “special national identity” that is opposed to Western values and samples the population willingly supports especially during periods of aggravation of relations between Russia and the West” — said Pipia. However, when it comes not so much about the approval of the Church and religion as such but about the religiosity of Russians, i.e., about fasting, about the regular visits to services, satisfaction with the work of the Church is not designed to flow in their daily life, clarifies the expert.
The results of the survey demonstrate that the Church’s activities meet the request of the majority of Russians. If we add to are satisfied with the performance of the ROC people are those who think that the front of the Church’s work needs to be extended, it turns out that the support of Church work — about 70%, said the head of information-analytical Department of the Synodal Department of the ROC on relations between the Church and society and the media Vakhtang Kipshidze.
As for those who want an anti-clerical, the Church follows closely the number of these people and sociological surveys. “But this does not mean that the ROC must adjust its policies depending on increase or decrease in the number dissatisfied. Sociology is a complex science, and much depends on how articulate the issues,” said Kipshidze. The question of the impact of the ROC on the state decision-making Kipshidze believes it is incorrect: “the ROC is not involved in politics, except for those issues that have a moral dimension. They can be considered secular in the political sense, but not the Church”.