José Casanova, one of the world’s top scholars in the sociology of religion, spoke at Kyiv Mohyla Academy on June 18. Dr. Casanova spoke on Secular Regimes and Religious Dynamics in Post-Soviet Societies:  A Comparative Analysis of East Germany, Poland, Ukraine, and Russia.

Professor Casanova presented an analysis of changes in attitude to religion in four post-Soviet societies in the aftermath of aggressive Soviet-type secularism politics. He stated that the four countries under analysis demonstrated quite different attitudes toward religion.  While East Germany continued to be mostly non-religious even twenty years after its integration with West Germany, Poland was not  influenced by communist secularization and remains one of the most religious countries in the world, connecting Catholicism with the idea of national revival.

In post-Soviet Ukraine, the quantity of religious people increased and concurrently,  “a truly free and competitive religious market in which all religions appear to thrive developed”. In Russia, the number of believers also increased in the post-Soviet period, but the dominating tendency is “Orthodox re-confessionalization”. Russian Orthodoxy under the Moscow Patriarchate is highly privileged.  Professor Casanova disagreed with the thesis that the more secular a society is – the more it is modern.  Professor Casanova stated that the diversity of religious dynamics demonstrated by the four neighboring countries of the post-Soviet era  led him to expect the development of “even more divergent modern religious patterns around the globe”.

José Casanova is a professor at the Department of Sociology at Georgetown University, and heads the Berkley Center’s Program on Globalization, Religion and the Secular. He has published works in a broad range of subjects, including religion and globalization, migration and religious pluralism, transnational religions, and sociological theory. His best-known work, Public Religions in the Modern World (1994), has become a modern classic in the field and has been translated into five languages. In 2012, Casanova was awarded the Theology Prize from the Salzburger Hochschulwochen in recognition of life-long achievement in the field of theology.

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