Ok, so there is a rise in Russian Orthodoxy after years of decline under communism. Increasingly the growing power of the church is playing a role in Russian politics (which could be seen in part with the Pussy Riot debacle). So, it looks like the church is backing Putin and vice versa by increasing nationalist religiosity as a way of seeing enemies of the state as enemies of god and enemies of the church as enemies of the state. So... this brings up many interesting issues to discuss. To what degree do you think church and state should be separated? Do you think nationalism, religiosity, etc have natural cycles in which they increase and decrease with the zeitgeist and what implications does that have for other socio-political regions? Do you think religiosity will increase over time in the West with increased immigration of Muslims into Europe? Do you think China (also communist and atheist) will experience similar pressures in the future? What role will religious nationalism play in other countries such as America with the waning influence of the religious right?

Here is the article on Putin's new close relationship with the orthodox church:

“The enemies of Holy Russia are everywhere,” says Ivan Ostrakovsky, the leader of a group of Russian Orthodox vigilantes who have taken to patrolling the streets of nighttime Moscow, dressed in all-black clothing emblazoned with skulls and crosses. “We must protect holy places from liberals and their satanic ideology,” he tells me. “The police can’t cope with the attacks ... crosses have been chopped down, there’s been graffiti on church walls.”

There is something of Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle in Ostrakovsky’s fervor. Like the disgruntled main character of Scorsese’s epic film Taxi Driver, the vigilante sees himself in a fight against cultural degradation. “When I came back from serving in the Chechen War, I found my country full of dirt,” he says. “Prostitution, drugs, Satanists. But now, religion is on the rise.”

A few years ago, Ostrakovsky and his vigilantes seemed like marginal curiosities in Russia, burning copies of the Harry Potter books in protest of “witchcraft.” But as Vladimir Putin’s third presidential term comes into focus, the cross-wearing thugs are now right in line with the ideology emanating from the Kremlin—and from the Russian Orthodox hierarchy. After near extermination under Communist rule, the church and religion are back at the heart of the country’s politics. And they have been critical in helping Putin recast the liberal opposition’s fight against state corruption and alleged electoral fraud into a script of “foreign devils” versus “Holy Russia.”