The Russian Orthodox Church

The Russian Orthodox church is the largest autocephalous, or ecclesiastically independent, Eastern Orthodox church in the world. Its membership is estimated at between 40 and 80 million.(5)

The word orthodox means "right believing" and was adopted to signifythe true religion that faithfully followed the beliefs and preactices defined by the first seven ecumencial councils.(4)

Beliefs and Rituals

  • Christianity's true, holy, and apostolic church(2)

  • Origin traces directly to the institution established by Jesus Christ(2)

  • Beliefs are based on the Bible and on tradition(2)

    • defined by seven ecumenical councils held by church authorities between A.D. 325 and 787T(2)
  • Teachings include(2)

    • the doctrine of the Holy Trinity(2)

    • the inseparable but distinguishable union of the two natures of Jesus Christ(2)

      • one divine, the other human(2)
  • Worship is considered the very center of church life in Eastern Orthodoxy. It is highly liturgical, embracing seven sacraments. It is characterized by a priestly and mystical nature. Veneration of icons and a mystical form of meditative prayer is commonly incorporated into their religious rituals (4)

More Orthodox Beliefs and Paractices

  • Authority Of Scripture- Orthdox Christians believe that Holy Scriptures (as interpreted and defined by church teaching in the first seven ecumenical councils) along with Holy Tradition are of equal valuse and importance.(4)

  • Baptism- Orthodox Christioans believe baptism is the initiator of the salvation experience. The Orthodox Church practices Baptism by full immersion.(4)

  • Eucharist- The Eucharist is the center of worship in the Orthodox Church. Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that during the Eucharist partake mystically of Christ's body and blood and through it recieve his life and strength.(4)

  • Holy Spirit- Orthodox Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is one of the persons of the trinity, who proceeds from the father and is one in essence with the father. The Holy Spirit is given by Christ as a gift to the church, to empower for service, to place God's love in our hearts, and to impact spiritual gifts for the Christian life and witness.(4)

  • Jesus Christ-Orthodox Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity, God's Son, fully divine and fully human. He became flesh through Mary, but was without sin. He died on the cross as man's savior. He resurrected and ascended to heaven. He will return to judge all men.(4)

  • Mary- Orthodox Christians believe Mary has supreme grace and is to be highly honored but they reject the doctrine of Immaculate Conception.(4)

  • Salvation-Orthodox Christians believe salvation is a gradual, life-long process by which Christians become more and more like Christ. This requires faith in Jesus Christ, working through love.(4)

  • The Trinity- Orthodox Christians believe there are persons in the Godhead, each divine, distinct and equal. The Father God is the eternal head; the son is begotten of the fatger; the holy spirit proceeds from the Father.(4)


Main Idea: Moses the Raven represents the Russian Orthodox Church

Brief Overview of the Position of the Russian Orthodox Church and how It Relates to Orwell's Animal Farm:

  1. Czar Nicholas II (Mr. Jones): Church supported
  2. Marxist Ideas Circulating (Old Major): Church beliefs and affiliation with Czar contrary to Marxist and Communist beliefs
  3. Revolution occurs/Bolsheviks to power (The revolutionary faction of pigs gain power): Clergy exiled; Church crumbles
  4. Stalin (Napoleon): Church reinstated

Detailed Analysis:

Animal Farm

The Parallel

"All the animals were now present except Moses, the tame raven, who slept on a perch..."(p.5)
When Czar Nicholas II was "head of both Church and State"(1), known to the Russian people as "The Sovereign anointed by God"(1), the Russian Orthodox Church was under the "monarchy's hold."(1). Moses the raven is under Mr. Jones control, just as the Russian Orthodox Church was under the control of the Czar, so he does not attend the meeting spreading words of rebellion against Mr. Jones. He remains asleep on his perch, soon to be knocked off by the revolution.
"The pigs had an even harder struggle to counteract the lies put about by Moses, the tame raven." (p.12)
Karl Marx referred to religion as the "opiate of the people"(2), and the "Bolshevik faction...was deeply suspicious of the church as an institution"(2). The pigs in Animal Farm who supported Marxist beliefs knew the influence of the Moses, the symbol for the Church, would deter the animals from rebelling against Mr. Jones. Because of this, they sought to "counteract" the word of the Church.
"Moses, who was Mr. Jones's especial pet, was a spy and a talebearer, but he was also a clever talker." (p.12)
The Russian Orthodox Church was the "...institutional part of tsarist Russia..."(3), and the Holy Council(3) issued a statement urging Russian people to "...abandon the senseless and godless dreams of the false teachers who call to realize universal brotherhood through universal strife! Come back to the way of Christ!"(3). The Church is the "pet" to the Czar, just as Moses is the "pet" to Mr. Jones. What the Church preaches is contrary to Communist ideas, just as was Moses speaks of is contrary to the Marxist and Communist ideas discussed by the pigs.
"He claimed to know the existence of a mysterious country called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals went when they died."(p.12)
Moses claiming to know the existence of Sugarcandy Mountain is the equivalent to the Russian Orthodox Church claiming to know the existence of the Paradise, or Heaven, where the Russian Orthodox followers go when they die.
"...but some of them believed in Sugarcandy Mountain, and the pigs had to argue very hard to persuade them that there was no such place." (p.13)
The Russian Orthodox Church was the "ideological enemy"(3) of those in the "Bolshevik faction, led by Vladimir I. Lenin," that made "...atheism...mandatory for members of the ruling Russian Communist Party"(2). The Communists sought to get rid of "the perverse influence of religion in society"(2). The Russian Orthodox beliefs that Moses spreads about Sugarcandy Mountain rivals the atheist beliefs that the pigs in Animal Farm have.
"Moses sprang off of his perch and flapped after...[Mrs. Jones], croaking loudly." (p.14)
Religious figures during the Russian Revolution were "killed or driven into exile"(1). Just as Religious figures were exiled during the Russian Revolution and the fall of the Czar, Moses also is driven into exile when the rule of Mr. Jones comes to an end. The Russian Orthodox Church, or Moses, falls off its pedestal, or "perch", that it sat on while the Czar, or Mr. Jones, was in control.
"In the middle of the summer Moses the raven suddenly reappeared on the farm, after an absence of several years." (p.80)
There was a "limited revival of church activity...permitted by Stalin in the 1940s..."(1). Just as Stalin allowed the revival of the Russian Orthodox Church, the pigs on the farm allow Moses to return and preach to the animals.
"...'up there...there it lies, Sugarcandy Mountain, that happy country where we poor animals shall rest for ever from our labours!'"(p.80)
"Many of the animals believed him. Their lives now, they reasoned, were hungry and laborious;was it not right and just that a better world should exist somewhere else?"(p.80)
Stalin used "the Russian Orthodox Church as the people's moral force"(3). As can be seen in Animal Farm, Moses' words provide moral support to the animals on the farm who work extremely hard. The animals need to have the belief in some sort of happy afterlife in order to encourage them to keep working hard.
"...[The pigs] all declared contemptuously that his stories about Sugarcandy Mountain were lies, and yet they allowed...[Moses] to remain on the farm..."(p.81)
Stalin "reluctantly solicited church support"(2) to draw "many to the Soviet cause"(2). The pigs under Napoleon, keep Moses around as a tool to gain support for their regime, just as Stalin utilizes the Russian Orthodox Church to gain support for the Soviet cause.

Other Links:

For More Detailed Information on the Russian Orthodox Church:Click Here
Check Out an Informative eBook: Click Here
Explanation of the seven ecumenical councils:


1. Blech, A. (2008). The Russian Orthodox Church: History and Influence. Retrieved from: developed-units/russian_orthodox.pdf
2. Curtis, G.E. (1996). Russia: A Country Study. Retrieved from:
3. Mikhail, T. (1998-2007). History of Russian Orthodox Church. Retrieved from:
4.Fairchild, M. (n.d). Eastern Orthodox Church Beliefs and Practices. Retrieved from
5. Voyce, A. (1995). Russian Orthodox church: early history and art. Retrieved from