Minister of Confessions A.V. Kartashev and confessional policy of the Provisiona...

Minister of Confessions A.V. Kartashev and confessional policy of the Provisional Government

Andrey N. Egorov
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The article considers the views of A. Kartashev, an outstanding theologian, Minister of Confessions of the Provisional Government, on relationship between church and state in Russia and the measures he proposed in order to reform them. What Kartashev advocated was not the complete separation of church and state, but rather such a “growing distance” between them which would give the Russian Orthodox Church independence and would allow the state to be secular rather than unilaterally confessional. During the short period when the Ministry of Religious Confessions was working, Anton Kartashev tried to be less involved into church administration, defended the interests of the religious department in the government, and supported a number of proposals from the Local Council. Kartashev began to implement the legal registration of the multi-confessional state system and consistently defended the interests of the Orthodox Church in other ministries and government departments. He gradually moved away from the doctrinal guidelines of the Provisional Government on the separation of church and state and became inclined to strengthen the influence of the church in the life of society, seeing its activities as a guarantee of the spiritual salvation of Russia. This approach did not coincide with the ideas about the role of the church in the life of society which had developed in liberal and socialist circles of that time and led to a discrepancy between the declarations of the Provisional Government and the activities it carried out in the church sphere. The article considers the reasons why Kartashev was able to pursue his line of confessional policy. The most important of these reasons was that neither the Provisional Government nor the Constitutional Democratic Party or the Socialist Revolutionary Party considered the problems of church-state relations a priority. They treated such problems in the context of general problems of the democratic transformation of Russia and attributed the right to solve them to the Constituent Assembly. It is emphasized that in the tense atmosphere of 1917 neither the Provisional Government nor the Russian Orthodox Church wanted to conflict with each other. In this situation, the compromise policy of Anton Kartashev suited both sides and softened the negative attitude of the church circles towards the activities of the Provisional Government.
Andrey N. Egorov
Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor
Cherepovets State University, Cherepovets, Russia
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Provisional Government, A. Kartashev, Russian Orthodox Church, Holy Synod, confessional policy
For citation:
Egorov, A. “Minister of Confessions A.V. Kartashev and confessional policy of the Provisional Government.” Historia Provinciae – the Journal of Regional History, vol. 5, no. 3 (2021): 843–85,

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