Georgian Path to Secularism A Case of 'Cultural Defense'

Aydıngün A., Keskin S., Gursoy H. E.

POLITICS RELIGION & IDEOLOGY, vol.22, no.3-4, pp.392-414, 2021 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 22 Issue: 3-4
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/21567689.2021.1997745
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.392-414
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This article intends to understand the dynamics and particularities of the Georgian path to secularism by analyzing whether equal respect for all religions and freedom of conscience -principle of secularism- are fully realized in post-Soviet Georgia and whether state's neutrality towards minority religions and church-state separation -operative modes of secularism- is truly secured. Employing the data obtained from interviews conducted in Tbilisi and Batumi in 2015-2017 and the related literature, it inquiries into concerns about ineffectual realization of principles of secularism due to the weaknesses in the operative modes of secularism. Research data revealed that weaknesses in the separation between the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) and the state and the state's neutrality towards minority religions are the result of the power of the GOC caused by its historical significance and 'cultural defense', exacerbated by a perception of threat to territorial integrity and national identity. Weaknesses in the operative modes of secularism and cultural defense both conduce to the unequal treatment of religious minorities, which is reflected in the legal framework and newly established institutions, leading to the Georgian path to secularism.