Orthodox Church Looms Large in Georgia

| 2/13/2009 2:58:24 PM

Georgia Orthodox ChurchChurch and state are becoming increasingly intertwined in Georgia, reports EurasiaNet, noting that “the Georgian Orthodox Church has become one of the most prominent actors in Georgia’s social and political life.”

Church patriarchs have gotten involved in political frays; the church gets $15 million a year from the state budget; and 86 percent of Georgians consider the Orthodox patriarchy to be Georgia’s most trustworthy institution, according to Molly Corso at EurasiaNet, the Soros-funded news outlet we turn to for rock-solid reporting about the “Stans” and all their neighbors at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

“Now it is much more difficult to say you are atheist, for example, than it was four or six years ago,” Georgian sociologist Giorgi Nijaradze, who conducted the poll, tells EurasiaNet. “People consider themselves obliged to declare their respect toward the church; they are very afraid to say something against it.”

Corso reports on an instance in which the church allegedly exerted pressure on state media, but no matter the depth of church-state collusion, it’s clear even at a glance that Georgians are undergoing a religious rebirth.

“On the streets of Tbilisi, public expressions of faith are becoming ever more commonplace,” she writes. “Pedestrians and drivers alike routinely stop in front of churches—or within sight of a church—to cross themselves.”

Image by Temo Bardzimashvili, courtesy of EurasiaNet.

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