“Churches built with ‘gold’ or ‘tears’: The Legitimization of Wealth by Businessmen in Contemporary Russia”.
The postsocialist religious revival in contemporary Russia is strongly visible in the erection of new churches and the reconstruction of existing ones. Hereby donations by local businessmen play a pivotal role because state and church are separated and no money could easily be given to the Russian Orthodox Church. With donations businessmen try to legitimize their wealth which is being perceived to originate from semi-legal or illegal sources. These attempts by businessmen, however, are challenged by Orthodox believers who perceive this to be a too easy way of penance compared to their own penitential efforts guided by ascetic ideals such as manual labor or self- restraint. Herewith a parallel is drawn to Russian history where we also find ambivalent attitudes towards wealth and donations by the rich in the Nestor chronicle.