Reflections of a Russian Statesman

Tsar Nicholas II
Tsar Nicholas II

The conflict between religious and political principles is one of the most remarkable phenomena of our time. When discord once appears in the sphere of religious and spiritual principles it is impossible to predict by what limits it will be confined, what elements it will involve, and whither will flow the stream of passions aroused by the clash of convictions and. beliefs. Where the religious convictions of a people are concerned, it is essential that the State shall establish its demands and regulations with especial caution to avoid such collision with their sentiments and spiritual necessities as would be resented by the masses.

For, however powerful the State may be, its power is based alone upon identity of religious profession with the people; the faith of the people sustains it; when discord once appears to weaken this identity, its foundations are sapped, its power dissolves away. In spiritual sympathy with its rulers a people may bear many heavy burdens, may concede much, and surrender many of its privileges and rights. In one domain alone the State must not demand concession, or the people concede, and that is the domain where every believer, and all together, sink the foundations of their spiritual existence and bind themselves with eternity. There are depths in this domain to which the secular power dare not, and must not, descend, lest it strike at the roots of faith in each and all.

Reflections of a Russian statesman (1898)

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