Tag Archives: Orthodoxy

After Gaining Independent Church, Church Attendance in Ukraine Soars, Then Plummets

KYIV- After receiving the tomos granting full autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Patriarch of Constantinople, church attendance in Ukraine rapidly increased before quickly declining to pre-autocephaly levels after many Ukrainians suddenly remembered that church is incredibly boring.

“I was so proud that we finally got our own independent Orthodox Church,” said Svitlana, 24, a dancer at the Harem Gentlemen’s Club in downtown Kyiv.

“My girlfriends and I decided to actually attend a service one Sunday and then we got a look at what it’s actually like. All that standing around. And it’s boring as hell. I’d rather sleep in on Sunday next time.”

Vitaly, 38, works in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and was one of the first to attend services at a church whose congregation recently switched from the Moscow Patriarchate to the independent Kyiv Patriarchate. He too has expressed dissatisfaction with religion.

“Sure, I am a true Ukrainian patriot, so naturally I wanted to see what this is all about now that we have our own church,” he said.

“But I started doing research into Christian doctrine and get this- it says that stealing is wrong. Clearly this faith isn’t meant for this country. My official salary is 250USD a month!”

Despite the disillusionment with religion many Ukrainians have been feeling, Russia’s Orthodox Church and it’s Ukraine-based Moscow Patriarchate still continue to inveigh against the independent Ukrainian church, calling them “schismatics.”

“Ukrainians have had a church they can claim allegiance to while not attending regular services for centuries, this is our church,” said Hilarion, Chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department of External Relations.

“Our church is just as boring and hypocritical as anything they could come up with in Kyiv. Russians and Ukrainians should be bored together.”

Despite Russian ire aimed at his country, Ukrainian President Poroshenko has made much fanfare over his very involved role in gaining independence for the Ukrainian church. When asked if this might be controversial for the leader of a constitutionally secular state, and if this would in any way reduce endemic corruption or perhaps gain justice for the victims of the sniper massacre during 2014’s Maidan Revolution, the president repeatedly shouted “TOMOS!” until all reporters present left the press conference in a hurry.

Fun facts!

So Russia’s top oil exec is saying that the price may drop to $60 a barrel by the middle of next year, and currently it stands at $73. This is a bit important considering how the 2015 budget was planned out based on an oil price of $100 a barrel. Yeah, do the math for a bit. Now what can you do when your living standards are plummeting, the currency is falling through the floor, and the market has slashed more than a quarter of your budget? Why you go and spend nearly 2 billion rubles on “spiritual education centers” for the Orthodox Church, of course.  Who cares about that pesky constitution, which in Article 14 clearly defines Russia as a “secular state” with full separation between the state and religion?

The money is being provided via the “Reinforcement of National Unity” program, but I can’t help but notice that nothing is said about building spiritual education centers for any of Russia’s other major religions. In fact, the construction of new mosques is banned in Moscow, in spite of the constitution’s text about all religions being separate from the state and equal before the law. Hmmm…It’s as if they don’t follow the constitution at all here.

Obviously we have a serious problem with separation of church and state in the US. I don’t mean to belittle the work of those who tirelessly struggle to keep religious fundamentalists out of our school textbooks and to prevent them from dominating our military. However, I think we can all agree that we’d be out in the streets for days if we found out that the American federal government was spending the equivalent of 2 billion rubles on the construction of schools for one particular Christian sect.