by Zachary Ugolnik
People prefer to name themselves rather than to define themselves in the terms dictated by others. But this is often a complicated exchange as the history of the term the “Orthodox Church” illustrates. “Eastern Orthodox,” for example, is not an official name. It is a description. In most contexts, then, we should drop “Eastern” when describing the “Orthodox Church.”
As a scholar of religion, I find no reason to refer to my church as “Eastern” unless I also describe the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches in similar geographical terms. Names matter. This is especially true since the history of what is called “Eastern” Christianity is so often omitted. Describing these churches as “Eastern” (though unavoidable at times) often provides an invitation for these omissions by subscribing to a default understanding of “Christianity” as Western. Continue Reading…
by Kristina Stoeckl
On 23 November 2016, the European Union Parliament passed a resolution entitled EU strategic communication to counteract anti-EU propaganda by third parties. In one part of this resolution, the signatories deplore that
the Russian Government is employing a wide range of tools and instruments, such as think tanks and special foundations (e.g. Russkiy Mir), special authorities (Rossotrudnichestvo), multilingual TV stations (e.g. RT), pseudo news agencies and multimedia services (e.g. Sputnik), cross-border social and religious groups, as the regime wants to present itself as the only defender of traditional Christian values, social media and internet trolls to challenge democratic values, divide Europe, gather domestic support and create the perception of failed states in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood.
The resolution was approved by 304 votes to 179, with 208 abstentions.
Religion comes up in two places in this resolution. Continue Reading…
by Sarah E. Yerkes
Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of the October 9, 2011 Maspero massacre in which Egyptian army forces killed two dozen Egyptians, mostly Coptic Christians, and injured hundreds more who were engaged in a sit-in in front of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (Maspero) building. The protests against the destruction of a church, and the subsequent violent response, represent one of the lowest points in Christian-Muslim relations in modern Egyptian history. Five years later, despite attempts by both the current Egyptian government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the leadership of the Coptic church to improve sectarian issues, the relationship between Muslims and Christians in Egypt remains volatile. While President Sisi and Coptic Pope Tawadros II have developed a strong, symbiotic relationship, there are growing fissures between the Coptic leadership and the Coptic community both in Egypt and abroad. Continue Reading…