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The Quest for Russia’s Soul: 

Evangelicals and Moral Education in Post-Communist Russia

Perry L. Glanzer


Hardcover: 426 pages
Publisher: SUNY Press
Publish Date: September 1, 2017
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1438466854
ISBN-13: 978-1438466859

What were American evangelicals doing in Russian public schools? Actually, the Russian Ministry of Education had invited them. Faced with the need for new approaches to moral education after the demise of communism, the Russian Ministry of Education turned to a group of Western evangelical Christians called the CoMission for help. Oddly enough, a government that had promoted atheism, destroyed churches, and persecuted Christians for more than seventy years now found itself partnering with Christians to train their educators to teach ethics.This book not only tells the story of this odd educational enterprise and its ultimate outcome, but it also explores the questions that such a groundbreaking project inevitably raises. What led post-communist educators to seek help with moral education from Western Christians? How did the Russian Ministry of Education and the CoMission handle the church-state relationships that this endeavor produced? How did post-Soviet teachers respond? How did the Orthodox Church react? While a few books have described the changes in Russian public schools, this book provides the first in-depth case study of moral education in Russia after communism.

This account of the CoMission–a group of 83 Christian organizations formed to instruct Russian public school teachers in how to teach Christian ethics–provides unique insights both into postcommunist Russia and Western evangelical movements. Interviews with over 100 people intimately involved in Russian education, politics, and evangelism make the narrative’s analysis thorough, accessible, and personal. The author’s comprehensive research and first-person experience result in an informative, instructive, and compelling book.


Perry L. Glanzer (B.A., Rice University; M.A., Baylor University; Ph.D., University of Southern California) is Professor of Educational Foundations at Baylor University and a Resident Scholar with Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Out of the Communist Desert

Chapter One: The Demise of Communist Moral Education and the Hand of God

Chapter Two: A Combustible Mixture: Evangelism, Ethics, and Politics

Chapter Three: The CoMission

Chapter Four: “Choosing My Morality”: Changing from Communist to Christian Moral Education

Chapter Five: The Results of the Quest: Christian Conversion

Chapter Six: The Battle for Russia’s Soul: Russian Orthodoxy and the CoMission

Chapter Seven: Orthodoxy’s Crusade Against Protestants and Proselytism

Chapter Eight: A Concluding Evaluation

A. Methodology
B. CoMission Member Organizations
C. Protocol of Intention Between the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation and the Executive Committee of the Christian Social Project “The CoMission,” USA
D. Opening Statement at International School Project Convocations




Glanzer’s original and path-breaking work successfully explicates the perspectives, as well as the strengths and weaknesses, of the major players in what came to be a troubled troika: The CoMission, the Russian education ministry, and the Russian Orthodox Church.

— Mark R. Elliott
Director of the Global Center in Beeson Divinity School,
Stamford University