Role of religious leaders in diplomatic relations between secular states

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Discussion by: ieva

Latvian journalists and politics experts are talking about the official visit of Kirill I of Moscow, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. Kirill's visit was planned long before recent events in Ukraine, but we cannot ignore the fact that he supports Putin. Latvian journalists suggest that one should focus on Ukraine, whereas political experts are stressing that his reception must not be too warm. Whatever that means.

And, of course, he will deliver a speech about the bad West with its gay marriages, feminists and atheists. But that cannot be helped, because it was believed that a visit of Russia’s religious leader to our secular country (Latvia) was essential in order to establish civilised relations with Russia.

But do political leaders of two secular countries (Russia is sort of one) really need to take religious leaders into account? Or, as in our case, is it a question of better safe (pleasing Orthodox believers) than sorry (making Orthodox believers angry)? Because most of the Orthodox are Russians ….

10 COMMENTS

  1. Politicians will use religion to further their ends. I strongly believe that beliefs based on faith have no place in government, and religious beliefs should play no role in making law or policy.

  2. I remember some awesome gentleman saying that “religion poisons everything.”

    I’ll add that’s even more correct when the ‘true’ cult boss is in bed with the ‘true’ state boss.

    So, no matter what happens there, in a really secular state it could have been much better.

  3. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow is of course entitled to visit Latvia as head of the Russian Orthodox Church to give succor to Russian Orthodox of that country. If he were going there as a representative of the Russian government, then there would be grounds for criticism. Yes, he is in cahoots with President Putin, but so what? That is hardly a secret. It will in fact make the venerable patriarch less likely to be taken seriously by the non-Orthodox and perhaps even by some of the less gullible Orthodox.

    • In reply to #3 by Cairsley:

      Patriarch Kirill of Moscow is of course entitled to visit Latvia as head of the Russian Orthodox Church to give succor to Russian Orthodox of that country. If he were going there as a representative of the Russian government, then there would be grounds for criticism. Yes, he is in cahoots with Pres…

      This scenario is why religion should be practiced by consenting adults in private, and has no place in any decision making, ever.

      • In reply to #4 by David R Allen:

        … religion should be practiced by consenting adults in private, and has no place in any decision making, ever.

        I agree with your point, if by “decision making” you mean the processes of determining law, policy and action in the organs of state, but I do not see how this is relevant in this case. Patriarch Kirill is visiting Latvia as head of the Russian Orthodox Church, no doubt much to the delight of the Russian Orthodox in Latvia. It is what Catholics call a pastoral visit, like those that the popes have taken to making since the 1970s. If the venerable patriarch has also been given a secret diplomatic mission to accomplish while he is in Latvia, that would not at all be unprecedented, but it would be a case of the patriarch doing President Putin’s bidding.

        You also seem unaware that religion is not only a private matter but also a public phenomenon, inasmuch as religionists form communities that require churches and schools and so on and are therefore public entities that must be recognized as such by society. Such communities hold events in public places from time to time – perhaps a procession in honor of the Blessed Virgin, or an outdoor mass celebrated by a visiting pontiff – and in some places the bells in their churches are still allowed to ring for all to hear. In short, religious communities are publicly recognized parts of general society. We may not like this state of affairs, but, as long as people cherish the beliefs that bind such communities together, we, who value freedom of conscience, respect their right to form such communities and hold such events.

        • In reply to #5 by Cairsley:

          In reply to #4 by David R Allen:

          … religion should be practiced by consenting adults in private, and has no place in any decision making, ever.

          I agree with your point, if by “decision making” you mean the processes of determining law, policy and action in the organs of state, but I do not see h…

          I am well aware of religions public place in society, and the consequences of that position. My statement that “Religion should be practiced by consenting adults in private” is an aspirational statement for the future good of humanity.

          I look forward to a future when Patriarch Kirill would not be needed to supply pastoral support to Latvia, or anyone, because we will have advanced as a society to the point where “pastoral” support comes from educated and rational thinkers. I look forward to a future when Patriach Kirill would not be a beacon of support for the orthodox east in Ukraine, with the Pope supporting the catholic west, resulting in conflict and bloodshed. The orthodox east fighting the catholic west. Aren’t we over religious conflicts in 2014.

          That is why religion should be practiced by consenting adults (not children) in private and has no place in the decision making of the world, in this case, nationalistic politics.

          That is why Hitchen’s was at his mercurial best with the subtitle to his book, “How Religion Poisons Everything.”

          • In reply to #6 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #5 by Cairsley:

            In reply to #4 by David R Allen:

            … religion should be practiced by consenting adults in private, and has no place in any decision making, ever.

            I agree with your point, if by “decision making” you mean the processes of determining law, policy and action in the organs…

            Bravo!

          • In reply to #6 by David R Allen:

            … My statement that “Religion should be practiced by consenting adults in private” is an aspirational statement for the future good of humanity. …

            That is a fine aspiration, which I share. Thank you for the clarification.

  4. Any government that acknowledges religion as a legitimate entity denies the legitimacy of their court system. You can’t say, on one hand, that evidence doesn’t matter while also stating, on the other hand, it matters supremely. The very fact that many courts require you to swear on a bible or other holy text is an insult to the very foundation upon which the legal process in a court of law is conducted. Anyone who swears on a god to tell the “truth” is a fool and liar. Any court that asks for it, forfeits their legitimacy to judge.

    Of course, that has nothing to do with diplomacy. So I will say, religion has no place anywhere other than in the mind of the deluded. Any government that wants to hitch themselves to that delusion, won’t get my respect.

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