Study of Religions - Book chapters

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    Redeeming memory: Neo-Protestant churches and the secret police archives in Romania
    (Routledge, 2021-08-13) Cindrea, Iuliana; Kapaló, James A.; Povedák, Kinga; European Research Council; Horizon 2020
    This article examines the manner in which members of the neo-Protestant churches dealt with the past of their own communities, the importance they ascribed to the archives of the former secret police and how they utilized state security files in order to write histories of their communities during the communist regime. While some have used the archives as a means to highlight the sufferings and persecutions that the neo-Protestant communities endured in an effort to fill the pages of history left blank, others have seen it as the sole repository of the truth about the past and took the responsibility upon themselves of exposing the names of all those community members who collaborated with the Securitate. Unlike the Orthodox Church, which has been accused of trying to keep under lock and key documents that could bring to light controversial issues, the neo-Protestant communities rushed into the archives in a quest for a true history of their own past. The article analyses some of the most important and controversial books that were written by members of various neo-Protestant churches, in which the subject of collaboration was more or less thoroughly addressed. Taken out of context, some of these works seemed like vengeful attempts to purify the neo-Protestant communities of their weakest individuals. For some members it was difficult to comprehend that such an endeavour could come from within the communities themselves, while for others these attempts were nothing more than an attack against the neo-Protestant churches. The nature of the secret police archives, its uses and abuses, as well as measures of transitional justice are other subjects that are dealt with in the present article.
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    If sex were a factor… The Securitate Archives and issues of morality in documents related to religious life
    (Routledge, 2021-08-13) Șincan, Anca; Kapaló, James A.; Povedák, Kinga; European Research Council; Horizon 2020
    The issue of morality is a vector in the analysis of the archival documents related to religion in communism. When the veil of privacy is lifted and the secret is no more, a rich picture unfolds for the researcher. Blackened names, the minimal protection offered to the actors that surface in surveillance files will do little in affording the subject of such files the privacy his/her actions were thought to have been acted in. For clergy and church members alike the moral stick they are measured against is higher than for the rest. It was self-imposed in many cases. Documents of the CNSAS archives on religion abound with stories about sexuality in many forms. Judges of the morality of the life of “God’s men” the Securitate officers will highlight the failures of the clergy based on guidelines that pertain to the church rather than the Securitate. This article is an overview of the way in which morality permeated the Securitate documents on religious life in communist Romania. How it was used and the reasons behind it. It answers questions related to the disappearance of the morality standard in other archives that dealt specifically with religion in communism.
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    Shifting images of a harmful sect: Operations against Inochentism in Soviet Ukraine, 1920-23
    (Routledge, 2021-08-13) Lisnic, Dumitru; Kapaló, James A.; Povedák, K; European Research Council; Horizon 2020
    This chapter concerns anti-sectarian policies designed by local Soviet authorities in the early 1920’s. The case under analysis exemplifies how a set of contrasting archival images of a religious group were constructed at different hierarchical levels of the Soviet administration. The archival image produced at the micro-level went on to form the centre of propaganda narratives and repressive policies against this religious group throughout the Soviet period right down to the end of the regime. This study aims to contribute to the already existing scholarship on early Soviet repressive mechanisms, which although impressively detailed, does not explore the role of functionaries and police officials at the micro-level in shaping the regime’s perception and understanding of specific cohorts of population, especially of religious sectarians, targeted by repressive policies. The chapter is centred on the case of Inochentism, a religious movement that emerged amongst Romanian-speaking peasants at the beginning of the 20th century in the northern part of today’s Odessa Oblast of Ukraine.
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    Visual media and the reconfiguration of divinity in Moldovan radical religion
    (Equinox Publishing, 2022-10) Kapalό, James A.; Horizon 2020; European Research Council; Royal Irish Academy
    This paper explores the power of the visual to contest and subvert dominant religious beliefs and doctrines. Through an exploration of Inochentism, and its later off-shoot Archangelism, ‘home-grown’ religious movements in twentieth and twenty first century Moldova, I trace the power of visual media, when combined with folk narratives, prophesy and visionary literature, to contest state and church authority, embody the sacred and transform belief. The two movements discussed, driven underground by nationalist and communist regimes in Romania and Soviet Moldavia, deployed visual media in the form of vernacular icons, photographs and photomontages, as powerful tools for critique and as a means of mobilizing belief during periods of intense persecution by the state. Based on a series of interviews with members of these movements between 2011 and 2014, on secret police archival sources and on Soviet propaganda publications, I examine how, under the pressure of state atheist ideology and political oppression, relations between divine and human, this world and the next, and the material and immaterial were re-imagined, re-presented and embodied by Moldovan village people.
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    Women and Orthodox dissent: The case of the Archangelist underground movement in Soviet Moldavia
    (Fordham University Press, 2021-11-02) Kapalό, James A.; European Research Council; Horizon 2020
    This chapter addresses the transformation of the religious landscape in Soviet Moldavia from the perspective of gender dynamics. Based on the testimonies of a group of women from the Turkish-speaking Gagauz Orthodox Christian minority, I explore their responses to the Khrushchev-era anti-religious campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s which resulted in membership of an underground Orthodox dissent movement commonly referred to as Archangelism. The term domestication has been used by a number of scholars of religion to describe the relocation of religion to the domestic sphere during communism and the enhanced role played in ritual and practice by women during this period. In Moldova, however, an Orthodox religious underground with strong female figures had already emerged during the right-wing dictatorship that preceded Soviet rule. In this chapter, I suggest that our understanding of domestic religion during communism should be expanded to include an awareness of earlier forms of Orthodox dissent in which the domestic sphere had become an important characteristic of the religious field. In so doing, I highlight some of the diverse ways in which the agency of Orthodox women shaped the religious field in Moldova in the twentieth century.