Vsevolod Chaplin: ''Higher competition between the Orthodox Christian and Muslim communities is inevitable''

Faith, ethnicities, hyped figures: if Russians go extinct by 2050

Vsevolod Chaplin: ''Higher competition between the Orthodox Christian and Muslim communities is inevitable'' Photo: Timur Rakhmatullin

Last week, Chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia and the Russian Muslim Spirituality Directorate Ravil Gaynutdin claimed that a third of Russians would be Muslim 15 years later. The mufti's forecast caused a great outcry in the mass media, in blogs and social networks. Meanwhile, head of the Russian Orthodox Church's Patriarchal Commission on Family, Maternity and Childhood Protection Dmitry Smirnov agreed with the thought of the CMR and noted that Russians would go extinct by 2050, which, of course, provided the discussion with a new lease of life. Realnoe Vremya's columnist Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin didn't stand on the sidelines – he tells about the competition between the Orthodox Christians and the Muslims and the ''Moscow-based Cartagena'' in his column.

Inevitable higher competition

It's completely clear why the words about 30 or 50% of Muslims in Russia caused such hype (they couldn't help but do it, in fact). Firstly, the current authorities' demographic politics suffered the final and obvious collapse. The periods of tiny growth change for periods of the same tiny fall, and zero becomes the final result. And it – as a slogan of ''conservation of the people'' – means stagnation, which will obligatorily end with decomposition and substitution.

The second cause of the hype is also obvious. Whoever says anything, there is competition between the Orthodox Christian and Muslim communities in Russia, and its augmentation is inevitable. As much as religious leaders who graduated in the Soviet era kept their unwillingly acquired habits, as much as they pull the wool over our eyes by talking about eternal friendship, the two ''big'' communities have been working with people of different ethnicities, doing missionary work in one public, information and social media for long, it's impossible to build any fences here.

The latest statements demonstrate it well – as an interested, emotional reply to them. Mufti Ravil Gaynutdin proactively claimed he thinks that the share of Muslims in Russia will grow by 30% in the next 15 years. Then Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov who was stimulated to react by the sharp radio Moscow Speaks said that Russians would go extinct 50 years later.

''As much as religious leaders who graduated in the Soviet era kept their unwillingly acquired habits, as much as they pull the wool over our eyes by talking about eternal friendship, the two ''big'' communities have been working with people of different ethnicities, doing missionary work in one public, information and social media for long, it's impossible to build any fences.'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

Professor and expert in Islamic studies, activist of the World Russian People's Council Roman Silantyev rejected the negative scenario. In his opinion, the share of Muslims in the country has grown by 1,5% as a maximum since 1989: migrants from Middle Asia have mixed with Ukrainians and Moldavians, about a million of ethnic Muslims have become Christians, while recently converted Muslims have totalled just tens of thousands of people.

Of course, this will be followed by counterarguments, moreover, probably emotional, not based on statistics and other objective reality.

Russians won't go extinct

''You will disappear! A stranger will conquer your land!'' ''And you don't exist statistically!'' We won't be able to avoid such provoking, frightening hyped figures in fact. Especially in relations of ethnicities, regions, religious communities, ''ours'' and ''strangers''. As much as we are inclined to official bronze ''peace making'', we've been tired of it since the Brezhnev and Gorbachyov era. It's characteristic of people to frighten and be frightened. But fear is not always a bad thing. It usually helps to realise real threats and sometimes see your own mistakes and start fixing them not to make new and die in general.

In this sense, the current frightening hype is quite useful. Yes, Russians won't go extinct in 50 years. But they are stagnating – inevitably at the moment. Generally speaking, I am convinced that real Russians don't exist today. Are they the women who walk in the street semi-naked and swear in front of their own children? Or the men who deal with a hangover or their favourite body in the fitness centre instead of going to the church on Sunday morning? Or the old men who stare at TV series all day long? Or young people who ''take care of themselves'' so much that are afraid to look for grooms or brides? Russians brought up by Orthodox Christianity shouldn't be so. The ability to serve the Fatherland, create strong families, keep everything clean – inside and outside – are their distinctive features. This is how it was even in the 50s when Russians remained culturally and morally Orthodox people despite state atheism.

However, the demographic reality of ''old'' Muslim peoples of Russia, even Jews, Buryats, Kalmyks isn't so different from that of the Russian. Very religious people and some peoples of North Caucasus are an exception. However, they won't survive longer than 100-200 years if the major anti-demographic process hits them – hyperubanisation.

''Russians brought up by Orthodox Christianity shouldn't be so. The ability to serve to the Fatherland, create strong families, keep everything clean – inside and outside – are their distinctive features.'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

To remove government from Moscow

With all our inevitable theological and cultural differences, with all understanding that we do missionary work in one space, we can and should talk about a common threat and nationwide mistakes. To speak one by one at times, to speak together at times. To speak with authorities and society, even if they don't want to listen. ''The new demographic politics' promises only trace Kudrin's dream to turn Russia into a migration melting pot. Even if part of people sincerely wants to multiply the people, the last name of one of these people is Putin. All the measures mentioned in the recent presidential message will increase natality by a couple of percentages if we don't switch to forcing at least gradually. If you don't give to birth before 23 years, no free university education. If you don't want to work in the province as a young specialist for a couple of years where it's easier to have your own house and create a big family, no appointment for a post in Moscow.

The Moscow-based Cartagena must be destroyed in general. The best way to do it is to remove the government, most ministries and departments, the parliament from here. Functionaries will let out a loud howl – it's the ruler's will to cope with this howl. And the high-ranking mates, most importantly, their wives and children, will quickly understand the advantage of living somewhere near a river, being at a couple of meetings a week in a compact building in the middle of a regional centre, moreover, with complete transition to virtual meetings (by the way, it will help to cope with corruption together with ''informal links'').

Whatever we think about hype, sometimes it allows raising really serious problems, which are from time to time swept under the carpet by functionaries-guardians and those official mass media that are afraid of bothering functionaries for every little thing. And this is an important issue for religious, really ''their own'' issue.

Because stagnation, especially in such a sphere as demography, can lead to slow suicide of Orthodox Christians of the country, Russian Muslims and those ruling elites who don't see further than their nose and have short-term plans. They perhaps dream that they will be able to sit out those years, and then… either the king will die or the donkey will croak or the one-way ticket will become ''the best solution'' to all strategic problems.

By Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin

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