Wednesday, 07 December 2022

E Editorial

The church and politics

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The term "nation" is often confused with "ethnos" in Armenian, which causes problems with content when preparing legal or political science texts.

In the modern world, the concept of "nation" has a political content, that is, a community of citizens of a given state, as it is also fixed in our Constitution and legal norms. "Ethnos" is a description of a shared history or, more precisely, an identity, which does not necessarily have legal or political content.

In the case of the Armenian people, its identity historically had the character of belonging to a religious community, as, say, in the case of Jews, Yezidis, and Assyrians, who lived for centuries as a religious community without having an independent statehood. The transition from an ethnos to a modern nation, on the basis of which the state identity will already be established, is a difficult process to overcome. Some remnants characteristic of the ethnos sometimes still remind us of themselves from a long time ago.

Today, for example, the official opposition represented in the parliament, being in an ideological and moral psychological crisis, is trying to use the church's playing card to involve the clergy in politics and to influence the feelings of the masses with the old patterns still preserved, in order to make them manageable. It is clear that the church is still an important component of Armenian identity. However, such an approach carries institutional risks.

The process of separation of church and state has started in the western world since the 18th century. Religion has been pushed out of interpersonal, person-state relations, it is no longer an institution that regulates moral and ethical norms in public life, and besides that, the church does not decide the issue of the rule of law of the government, as before. Moreover, it is difficult to call modern Western society Christian. it is already secular, where religion is pushed out of state life and is everyone's private matter.

Our political institutions, legal framework, and public relations are built on the basis of Western rules. And according to those rules, the church cannot enter the political sphere, it is not only against those rules and the legal framework but also endangers the church itself. The whole problem is that a large part of Armenians lives abroad, and the church has an important cultural and organizational role in the Diaspora. The church has a similar supra-political role in Armenia as well.

If the church enters politics, which, judging by the behavior of some clergy, it is not against, then it deals a big blow to its supra-political, pan-Armenian mission, which is fraught with bad consequences.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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