Models of the Population's Attitude to the Sacred Orthodox Objects in Contemporary Russia (survey results conducted in the city of Sergiev Posad, Russia)

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Iya BIDIKHOVA, Saint Tikhon's Orthodox University, Russia
The last two decades have been characterized by an enhancement of the church’s role as a social institution, as well as the importance of holy Orthodox objects. Trinity-Sergiev Lavra, in the city of Sergiev Posad, (Laura, Place of Worship - monastery), is one of the most importantof the Russian Orthodox Shrines. It attracts pilgrims from all over Russia and also around the World.

The question arises: how the population’s attitude towards sacred Orthodox objects changes with the increasing role of religion, while this is leading to the formation of specific infrastructure around them,increasing both tourism and commercial businesses? What are the relevant models for the peoples of Sergiev Posad’s attitude toward the Lavra, which is considered to be one of the most important centres of Orthodoxy in Russia? These questions are particularly valid in a post-secular society, to which Russia can be attributed.

In order to answer these questions, in July 2015, the Faculty of Social Sciences of Saint Tikhon's Orthodox University conducted a survey on the citizens of Sergiev Posad.
The study revealed the following patterns characterizing the attitude of the city’s population toward the Lavra:
- Lavra is considered to be some sort of an "asset" (economic, symbolic, spiritual, cultural);
- Lavra is considered to be a treasure  (cultural, sacral, historical);
- Lavra is also viewed as a factor in the formation of a latent conflict;
- Indifference towards the Lavra.
Moreover, the prevailing attitude toward the monastery (Lavra) was as to some sort of "asset." This example gives reason to believe, that, in a post-secular society, well-known and significant sacred objects are largely a means of obtaining some benefits, as an implementation of desired needs and goals, both personal or public. However, this conclusion needs to be verified in a larger scale study.