Key Models of Religious Institutions’ Interaction in the Context of the State-Church Relations in Russia and Egypt

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Abstract


The article reveals and comparatively analyses the peculiarities of the state-church relations in Russia and Egypt. Currently, the role of religion and religious institutions in world politics is actively increasing, as well as the process of secularization of public life is being redefined. Religion still often becomes the cause of discrimination, persecution of certain groups of society; the level of Islamophobia in Western countries and Religiophobia in the whole world is not decreasing. In these conditions, the importance of state-church relations within key international actors is also growing. The purpose of the study is to provide comparative analysis of the specifics of the state religion policy of Russia and Egypt in order to develop recommendations for the use of Russian religious institutions to strengthen Russia’s position in the Middle East. Russia and Egypt were chosen as research objects, since these countries have a rich history of interaction in the religious sphere, which could become a basis for the future cooperation between religious institutions of the two countries. In addition, Egypt is one of the key states in the Middle East, where Russian influence has never been dominant, but where exactly religious organizations such as the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) most actively and successfully pursued Russia’s interests. Methodologically, the article is based on historical and empirical institutionalism, as well as comparative analysis and historical-genetic method. The study is quite novel, as it identifies four models of interaction between religious communities, which are based on two criteria: a) presence of religious institutions representing the interests of a particular community; b) status of religion in the state (dominant / minority religion). The practical significance of the study lies in its attempt to make recommendations for improving the use of religious organizations in Russia to promote state interests in Egypt on the basis of the highlighted features of state-church relations in Egypt.


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Table 1. Religious situation in Egypt and Russia, 2015

Criterion

Egypt

Russia

Total population, mln (2021)

106,437,241

142,320,790

Official Religion

Sunni Islam

Orthodoxy

Religious Adherents

Muslim (all denominations combined), %:

88.4

10.6

Sunni Muslim

88.3

10

Shia Muslim

0.2

0.7

Other and unknown Muslim

> 0.1

Christian (all denominations combined), %:

10.9

48.2

Orthodox

9.3

44.6

Pentecostal

0.3

1.5

Protestant

1.1

1.1

Catholic

0.2

0.5

Other and unknown Christian

> 0.1

0.5

Ethnoreligionist
(incl. Animist, Shamanist), %

1.4

Buddhist (all denominations combined), %:

0.5

Vajrayana Buddhist

0.5

Other and unknown Buddhist

0.1

Other Religionist, %

> 0.1

0.1

Not Religious (incl. Atheist), %

0.6

8.2

Unknown, %

31

Source: compiled by the authors based on the data: Egypt // CIA. The World Factbook. URL: https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/egypt/#people-and-society (accessed: 12.08.2021); Russia // CIA. The World Factbook. URL: https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/russia/#people-and-society (accessed: 12.08.2021); Compare Nations // The ARDA. URL: https://www.thearda.com/internationalData/compare2.asp?c=73&c=186 (accessed: 12.08.2021).

 

Table 2. Comparison of key indices of government policy in Egypt and Russia in relation to religion

No.

Index

Egypt

Russia

1

State Regulation of Majority or All Religions Index (0—87, lower means less regulation)

29

17

2

State Religious Minority Discrimination Index (0—108, lower means less discrimination)

46

49

3

State Funding of Religion Summary (0—10, lower means less state funding)

6

4

4

Societal Discrimination of Minority Religions Index (0—81, lower means less discrimination)

62

26

5

Religious Legislation Index (0—52, lower means less religious legislation)

28

12

6

Average social regulation score over ARDA researchers’ coding of 2003, 2005 and 2008 U.S. Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Reports (0—10, lower means less regulation)

8

9.8

7

Religious Freedom Composite Score for Nonpreferred Religion(s) (0—4, lower means more freedom) (2015)

1.3

2.0

8

Average number of people physically abused, displaced, imprisoned, or killed due to their religion according to the U.S. Department of State’s 2005 and 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports (as coded by ARDA researchers). 0 = None; 1 = 1—10; 2 = 11—20;
3 = 21—100; 4 = 101—500; 5 = 501—1000; 6 = 1001—5000; 7 = 5001—10 000;
8 = 10 001—50 000; 9 = 50 001—100 000; 10 = greater than 100 000

7

3

9

Religious Official Status Composite Score of Preferred Religion(s)
(0—4, lower means less established or favored)

3.5

3

10

Religious Official Status Composite Score of Nonpreferred Religion(s)
(0—4, lower means less established or favored)

0.5

1

11

Religious Education Composite Score of Preferred Religion(s) (0—4, lower means less religious education requirements)

2

2

12

Religious Education Composite Score of Nonpreferred Religion(s) (0—4, lower means less religious education requirements)

1

1

13

Religious Financial Support Composite Score of Preferred Religion(s) (0—4, lower means less financial support)

4

2

14

Religious Financial Support Composite Score of Nonpreferred Religion(s) (0—4, lower means less financial support)

0

2

Note. The study was conducted in 1990—2015; however, the data for indicators 6 and 8 were calculated based on the coding of the International Religious Freedom Reports of the US Department of State for 2003, 2005 and 2008 using the coding methodology of B. Grim and R. Finke (Grim & Finke, 2006).
Source: compiled by the authors based on the data: Compare Nations // The ARDA. URL: https://www.thearda.com/
internationalData/compare3.asp?c=73&c=186 (accessed: 02.09.2021); Religious Regulations — Compare Nations // The ARDA. URL: https://www.thearda.com/internationalData/compare4.asp?c=73&c=186 (accessed: 02.09.2021).

 

Table 3. Features of the state religion policy  of Egypt and Russia

Criterion

Egypt

Russia

Is proselytizing Legal?

Yes

Official Support: The formal relationship between religion and state

State controlled religion, positive attitude

Multi-tiered preferences

The extent to which religious education is mandatory in public schools

Mandatory for all; the course must be in religion

Mandatory, but upon specific request, a student may opt out of the course

The extent to which funding is exclusive to one or a few religions

Government funding of religion goes primarily to one religion but at least some other religions receive some funds

Is religious registration sometimes denied?

Registration is required but sometimes denied

What are the consequences of registration?

Groups are officially required to register, and the government enforces this and discriminates against unregistered groups.

Source: compiled by the authors based on the data: Compare Nations // The ARDA. URL: https://www.thearda.com/internationalData/compare3.asp?c=73&c=186 (accessed: 02.09.2021); Religious Freedom — Compare Nations // The ARDA. URL: https://www.thearda.com/internationalData/compare4.asp?c=73&c=186 (accessed: 02.09.2021); Religious Regulations — Compare Nations // The ARDA. URL: https://www.thearda.com/internationalData/compare5.asp?c=73&c=186 (accessed: 02.09.2021).

About the authors

Galina O. Lukyanova

Рeoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

Author for correspondence.
Email: lukianova-go@rudn.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4033-4852
Moscow, Russian Federation

PhD in Philology, Associate Professor, Head, Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Olga S. Chikrizova

Рeoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

Email: chikrizova-os@rudn.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1678-0967
Moscow, Russian Federation

PhD in History, Associate Professor, Department of Theory and History of International Relations

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