ZOiS Report 1/2021

Faith, state, and religious competition in Georgia

Von Tsypylma Darieva 14.01.2021

This report investigates the relationship between state and faith in Georgia and demonstrates how religious plurality has unfolded in the country, with particular attention on the hegemonic position of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Increasing religious pluralisation and the presence of religious difference have resulted in public debates on the disadvantaged position of religious minorities. In urban spaces, religious contestation has become visible.

The report is based on an analysis of policy documents, expert interviews, and ethnographic observations during fieldwork conducted in 2018 and 2019 in Batumi, Georgia’s multi-religious second city, located on the Black Sea coast. The study discusses the legal framework for governing religious diversity and looks at local negotiations and perceptions of religious inequality.

The study is part of a ZOiS research project that explores patterns of religious pluralisation in post-atheist societies and the conditions that generate contestation and peaceful co-habitation in multi-ethnic and emerging multireligious societies.1 By analysing qualitative interviews with secular experts and religious leaders, the report sheds light on the rise of religious competition and inequality in Georgia.