Monday, 6 October 2008

It’s getting ridiculous: Armenian MPs want to have their own church on Baghramyan Avenue

Things are going from bad to worse in the ‘bright’ minds of Armenian MPs. This news could easily be considered among the most ridiculous news ever to come out from Armenia. Ironically, it comes from the head of parliamentary committee on science, education, culture, youth and sport. Well, it’s Armen Ashotyan - MP from governing Republican party - whose ‘creativity’ has no limits.

Currently, the discussions are underway on the possibility of building a church for Armenian MPs, said chairman of the parliamentary committee on science, education, culture, youth and sport Armen Ashotyan. «I have proposed to build a church back in 2005. The aim of this initiative - to bring the Armenian Apostolic Church closer to the official representative body, the National Assembly, and reiterate the distinctive mission of the Armenian Apostolic Church», - MP said at a press conference on Monday.

According to Ashotyan, newly elected speaker of the Armenian parliament Hovik Abrahamyan is engaged with the process and already raised the issue of church building. The likelihood of this initiative is very high, indeed. «Construction of the church on Baghramyan Avenue, where the residence of the president and the country's parliament building are located, is pretty symbolic.

As far as I am informed, orders have already been given out to prepare for the construction of the church», - said Ashotyan. […]

«I am confident that upon completion of this initiative it would be more comfortable to work in Armenian parliament», - he said.

What is next? Armenian patriarch as head of state elected by the National Ecclesiastical Assembly?

...and not only in Armenia.

Recent survey in Georgia shows that Georgians trust their orthodox church the most (91% of surveyed). It follows by independent media and human rights Ombudsman (no numbers are provided within the news report but I assume they came the distant 2nd and 3rd). The least trusted for Georgians are courts and the mayor of Tbilisi.

With this mentality and state of affairs, the future for the South Caucasus is not looking that bright, after all.


emma said...

I have another suggestion: why not build a special monastry for them in Echmiadzin and make them preach and repent there. Our MPs have finally gone mad.

artmika said...

They do not do monasteries, Emma. They have to show off themselves :) They could be a great case study for contemporary writers. We need modern Yervand Otians for this, although Enker Panjuni (‘Comrade Panjuni’) is always current...

Ani said...

They and Sargsyan are obviously aiming at the Diaspora audience in this and the Echimiadzin event. They're wrapping themselves tightly in the bosom of the Church to allay criticism. Reading some of the crap written after his U.N. visit, I guess this stuff plays well to that crowd:

artmika said...

I think this is at least partly aimed at locals too, for very superficial reasons of showing off which will backfire. However, I agree, while this 'church cover' does not work well with the locals, it sadly does with some parts of the Diaspora.

Onnik Krikorian said...

I'm getting worried about the similarities between church and state moving closer together here as it has in Georgia. We always seem to be a few years behind developments there, and this is not one that I want to see occur. Frightening.

Besides, if they want to pray (which I doubt), let them go to the churches in their local communities. That way they can also mingle with the common folk they're meant to represent. Yes, I know, very unlikely in Armenia...

Anonymous said...

Is Hovik becoming afraid of God, afraid he has to give account for his deeds at some point? He thinks he needs to pray for his soul a bit harder? What a waste of time, money and effort - both the praying and the whole church plan ;-)

Sorry, I am in a nasty mood this morning.

spm said...

There was a time, I also, as most Armenians, was proud of in numerous churches abundant on Armenian soil. However observing developments of the last 10 years I increasingly suspect that their an-proportionally large numbers are result of "Dody Gago"'s and other similar personalities building over centuries their OWN churches. It looks like that these people hope that the god is going to forgive them their sins or at least let them sleep with clear conscience. Curiously it also means that they hardly believe in god, but do this in order to demonstrate to simple people how godly they are.

I am not sure it will increase religious fanatism of the population, as Onnik fears, it only creates disgust and irony in religious and non-religious people alike.

Onnik Krikorian said...

You know, I wouldn't be so complacent about the possible spread of some kind of fanaticism, mainly because the three countries of the South Caucasus are not too dissimilar in trends.

Thus, if we can see the church strengthen in Georgia (although yes, religion plays a far more important role in the lives of most Georgians), as well as observe the growth of Islam among poor communities in Azerbaijan, why not the same here?

Indeed, some would argue that the spread of the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Evangelists is already indicative of that. Of course, not among the more progressive and educated section of the population (a minority?), but among those looking to find something to help them in their difficult lives.

Thing is, that the failure of the Church to appeal to those people was not because they couldn't, but because they didn't reach out -- leaving it to others instead (and even going as far as having to strike a deal with the Evangelists).

So, if church and state get closer, and if the church does try and reach out, then yes, I would be concerned. Besides, it's also more about the power the state gives to the church regardless of how many adherents they have.

Meanwhile, CRRC-Caucasus has something on religion in all three South Caucasus republics:

Religious practices across the South Caucasus | the Data Initiative


Georgia has most people saying that religion plays a very important role in making decisions. 50% say it is very important, and another 26% say it is important. So, nearly three quarters of the respondents accord religion a central role in their life. In two other countries religion plays very important and important role in making decisions for around 50% of the respondents.


Ani said...

Meanwhile, peeking over the fence to see what the Azeri religious are up to:

Today, while surfing Internet, I encountered very peculiar and tragicomic news pieces about our clergymen's spiritual affairs. In a yesterday's incident the Akhund (Chief Clergyman) of Mingachevir, the fourth largest city in Azerbaijan, together with his driver have beaten a labourer working in a neighbour's house and have broken dozens of his bones, including his jaw.

Another incident is a bit old news - a mullah in Salyan, another city in Azerbaijan, has broken into 85-year-old woman's house, has tied her up, and then has stolen 20 new manats (appr. 25 US dollars) and her antediluvian wedding ring.