Monday, May 20, 2013

The Pharisees of the Caucasus

Since independence, all three South Caucasus states have seen a revival in religious practice.  The Georgian and Armenian ‘national’ churches were quickly restored in their central roles within the identities of their respective ethnic groups; the Islamic denominations in Azerbaijan likewise saw the faithful return to their mosques in large numbers.  Meanwhile, as in the rest of the former Soviet Union, a large number of cults – including the Jehova’s Witnesses, and the Hare Krishnas – started infringing on what the established religions saw as ‘their’ rightful spheres of influence as ordinary Armenians, Azerbaijanis and Georgians embraced the spiritualism they had been denied under Soviet, scientific-socialist rule, with gusto.