Public policy and public religion in the paradigm of religious freedom
Keywords:public policy, public religion, religious freedom, state-church relations, interfaith interaction
The article analyzes the connection between public policy and public religion, examines the problems and prospects of their interaction, links the expansion of religious freedom with the level and degree of this relationship.
The authors clarify the concepts of "public policy" and "public religion", which are the basic postulates of the article, that rest on the definitions given by modern domestic and foreign science.
Investigating the presence of religion in the public sphere, the authors draw on the methodology proposed by American sociologist of religion J. Casanova. He identified three forms of collective self-organization of religion:
1) institutional lobbying by religious groups;
2) the mobilization of religious groups into social movements;
3) self-organization and mobilization of religious groups into political parties.
The authors use convincing examples of the presence or the absence of publicity in the religious sphere, which has a positive or negative impact on the religious freedom in the country.
Based on the analysis of a specific socio-political situation, the authors argue that in Ukraine, especially after the Revolution of Dignity, there is a real possibility of public influence of people who unite in communities, incl. and religious ones. The right of public influence, then and now, is used by almost all religious organizations to express their attitude to politics and politicians, to the activities of state and public institutions. Going out into the public arena, churches, as a rule, describe themselves in a complimentary way, contributing to the growth of the authority of religious figures, the activation and self-organization of believers, the emergence of new forms of inter-denominational solidarity, and even ecumenical cooperation. But publicity does not only cover the positive aspects of religious organizations. Scandals, crimes, conflicts in the religious environment, becoming a public domain, exacerbate contradictions within the church structures themselves, between different denominational areas, between the church and society. The consolidating function of religion is dominant. Religious institutions as a component of civil society, on the one hand, and public policy, on the other, being attributes of a democratic state, capable of achieving sustainable development, overcoming contradictions and conflicts between different socio-political, socio-cultural and religious groups.
The authors illustrate the importance of public activity of advisory and interfaith associations at higher levels of government. There are currently 8 institutions in Ukraine, which try to overcome misunderstandings and tensions in the religious and political sphere. Within their limits, public discussions between religious organizations and the state relate to various relevant areas (introduction of military chaplaincy, organization of alternative service and pastoral care, simplification of registration of religious organizations, reforms in the field of religious education, changes to the tax code, etc.).
The dynamics of self-organization of religious groups into political parties is interesting. In Ukraine, unlike other countries, religious parties did not spread, did not become popular. Politicians are actually indifferent to a religious resource. This is evident from the article in the analysis of the election programs of the candidates of the last presidential campaign.
All these trends are confirmed by opinion polls conducted annually by the Analytic centre of O. Razumkov. The authors illustrate their theoretical conclusions with these materials, which prove that the lack of transparent public policy may carry the risks of aggravation of the socio-political situation, which is why tolerance of inter-denominational and state-church relations is so important.
The special role here belongs to religious scholars as subjects of public policy, through whom the interaction of society and the state with the religious sphere becomes more effective.
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