Religion in Russia

My friend and St. John’s colleague, Peggy McGuinness, alerts me to a worthwhile review essay by the Berkley Center’s Irina Papkova, “Believing in Russia,” on a religion and media blog called The Revealer. Papkova reviews Geraldine Fagan’s Believing in Russia–Religious Policy After Communism (2013). Here’s an excerpt:

Without being iconoclastic, “Believing in Russia” is based on impeccable research, and brings a useful corrective to many widely held assumptions about religion in Russian society.  Journalists writing about Russian politics for major news outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post usually present a cozy relationship between the ROC and the Putin regime, suggesting that this relationship is detrimental to religious minorities and non-religious Russians. There is some truth to this view but, as Fagan’s work demonstrates, the marginalization of minority faiths has as much to do with bureaucratic incompetence and the weakness of the rule of law in Russia as with the ROC’s plan to obliterate competition from other religions. Fagan tells the story of how religious policy is created and applied across the Russian Federation.  In doing so, she brings to light the role of personalities and personal convictions of bureaucrats in creating guidelines for how the state should deal with religion, and the efficiency with which they are applied.

You can read the whole review here.

Bartrum Reviews “The Tragedy of Religious Freedom”

Ian Bartrum (UNLV Law) has posted a very generous review (forthcoming in the Journal of Church and State) of The Tragedy of Religious Freedom. I wish I could say that I disagreed with the sharp and smart criticisms of the book in Ian’s review; but actually, I found myself quite in agreement with them. Still, I hope you will forgive me for quoting from a not-so-critical section:

DeGirolami’s is a thoughtful and sophisticated meditation on the protean relationship between law and faith in a society committed to religious freedom. His intellectual and cultural influences are broad and rewarding; his style is rich and accessible; and his critique of both theoretical foundationalism and skepticism is profound and compelling. The Tragedy of Religious Freedom is an important book that will undoubtedly influence and enrich this discussion for years to come.