In this thesis I discuss perceptions of the constitutional separation of state and religion, in the public debate on the school subject "Osnovy Pravoslavnoi Kul'tury" (OPK) in Russian printed media. In terms of religion, emphasis will be given to Orthodoxy and the ROC. By analyzing a sample of texts consisting of press releases, newspaper articles and other printed contributions to the public debate, I explore how the participants in the debate relate to the separation of religion and state, both in terms of the explicit attention they pay to it, as well as how it is implicitly defined in their discourse. Suggestions promoting a revision of the Constitution are completely absent from the debate. What seems to occur, however, is a reexamination of the current constitutional provision in light of Russia s past traditions and society s present needs. I therefore argue that it emerges as permeable, and that it must be seen in light of the different roles the Orthodox faiths plays to the population in contemporary Russia.
In chapter 2 I present the methodical approach to my research question. In chapter 3 I map out Orthodoxy s historical role in Russian traditions for education and upbringing. The next three chapters constitute the main part of the thesis, and here I analyze the public debate in light of the research question. Chapter 4 and 5 take as their points of departure two recurrent arguments for the teaching of OPK. In chapter 4 I look at how the role of Orthodoxy in Russian culture and tradition is presented in the debate. Commencing with a brief analysis of the Ministry of Education s 2002 suggested syllabus for the course OPK, I then explore how the participants in the debate promote OPK as a course in culture kul turologicheskii predmet. As a part of this analysis, I also look at variations in how they relate to the concept Orthodox Culture . In chapter 5 I examine the issue of morals. I point to a tendency towards diagnosing contemporary Russian society as morally confused , and discuss how proponents of OPK present the course as the ultimate remedy to society s deteriorating moral standards. Whilst both chapter 4 and 5 mainly concentrate on Orthodoxy s role in post-Soviet society as it is presented in recurrent pro-arguments for OPK, chapter 6 examines the public debate from a slightly different angle. First, it takes as its point of departure a set of recently posed counterarguments against OPK, which in the public debate are all subsumed into the broader category of clericalization . Second, it explores the institutional aspect of the constitutional separation, notably how it separates the Church (ROC) from the state. In addition, this chapter also explores how OPK in the debate becomes a security issue. Chapter 7 is the final chapter, where I present the main conclusions of my study, as well as suggestions for further studies of post-Soviet church-state relations in Russia.