Soros Foundation Moldova (FSM)

Good Governance

The mission of the department is to enhance transparency, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness of government in accordance with the European agenda.

Justice and Human Rights

The Justice and Human Rights Department’s vision of rule of law is built on the solid grounds of a fair, accessible and predictable justice delivery system, which effectively safeguards fundamental human rights.

The Department develops and implements activities in several areas, crucial for the fulfilment of its vision: Human Rights, Access to Justice, and Criminal Justice.

Public Health

Stigmatized and discriminated people cannot always receive necessary health services or benefit from them in adequate volume. The Public Health Department supports and contributes to the development and promotion of health policies and practices based on evidence, which promotes human rights, social inclusion and justice.

The Department also provides support for promoting good governance in the health system by independent and neutral monitoring / evaluation of public health policy and health services.

Media Program

Media Department's mission: to contribute to the development of an open, participatory, pluralistic and value-based society in Republic of Moldova by organizing, supporting and financing activities aimed at encouraging the development of an independent media sector and improving access to information.

Other initiatives

Initiatives implemented during 2017

The Interaction Between the Church and the State in the Republic of Moldova Fosters Intolerance and Social Conservatism

The church is perceived by the population of the Republic of Moldova as a source of moral and order, in a society where the State is not anymore able to fulfill these functions. This is the conclusion of the study „Church and State in the Republic of Moldova”, developed at the initiative of the Soros Foundation-Moldova. The research analyzes the Church-State relationship from the social point of view, especially from the perspective of balance of rights: right to religious freedom, right to non-discrimination and freedom of expression.

The report included one quantitative component (opinion survey), where more than 2000 people have been interviewed, and a qualitative one, which comprised 33 in-depth interviews and 8 focus groups. The data collection period was August-September 2016.

Beliefs and religious behaviors

Most of the respondents, i.e. approximately 93% self-reported to be Orthodox Christians: 86% belonging to Moldovan Metropolitan Church, and 7% to Bessarabian Metropolitan Church. Approximately 2% declared their adherence to various Protestant or Neo-Protestant churches. Almost 1 % were atheists and agnostics, and less than one percent, taken jointly, reported various other religions (Catholic, Mosaic, Islamic, etc.).

Still, the reported religion is not an indicator on the religiousness of a person, but only the affirmation of the adherence to the corresponding cult. For example, only 60% of the respondents consider themselves believers, and 38% - do not consider themselves believers. At the same time, only 18 percent of the sample report than the church responds to a large extent to their needs relating to God. Thus, slightly more than 10% of the respondents attend the church at least once per week. Most of them, 39%, only on the most important religious celebrations.

(In)tolerance and (non)discrimination

Moldovans may be characterized by a high level of intolerance and social conservatism. Intolerance is manifested by rejecting all the social groups that are “different” from the majority one. The data show that four groups are unanimously rejected: drug users, homosexuals, alcoholics and people with HIV/AIDS. It is to remark that young people from the 18-24 age group are more intolerant than all the other age groups.

More than 20 percent of Moldovans may be described as radical conservators, those who consider always unjustified such social behaviors as lie, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, sexual relations before and outside the marriage, suicide, prostitution or death sentence. People having more financial resources are a little less conservative.

Religion, politics and policies

Almost half of the citizens would agree to the direct financial support of the cults by the State, more exactly of the majority one. A little less than one third would agree to fiscal measures to support the cults (exemptions from taxes and charges). This majority opinion is reflected in the positions of the community leaders. The interviewed persons from the Orthodox Church wait for support and say that people from the administration would give it if no legal restrictions were imposed. The confirmation issues from the discussions with the representatives of the administration. There are some indices that, at least at a local level, there is a practice of funding the church, tacitly accepted by the officials and by the population.

The influence of the Church on the State is better seen when we discuss a series of public policy topics interesting for the representatives of the cults: teaching religion in school, reproductive health (by discussion abortion), recognition of the rights of sexual minorities or gender roles in the society. Except for the last topic, we identify a strong support given by the society to the conservative-religious position.

Thus, 74% of the respondents would like religion to be taught in school. The share of those who want the study of religion in school is higher among women (80%) than among men (67%). The answers are more balanced among pupils and students: 56% choose teaching religion in school, and 44% - not.

Most of the population - 53% - is against abortion, and 37% say that they would accept such decision in certain situations, and 6% - in any situation. The main conditions in which the citizens of Moldova accept abortion are: if mother’s life is in danger (65%) or if the child may be born with serious diseases (57%). Both are of a medical nature. The other tested reasons, of a social or economic nature, were rejected by most of the respondents.

Regarding the freedom of religious exercise, 59% of Moldovans say that each person should be free to exercise any religion, and 38% would like only the religions recognized by the state to be allowed. Also one fifth of the population considers that too much freedom of religion exists in the Republic of Moldova.

The authors of the study established a dominant opinion in favor of a consultative role of the churches and, in particular, of the Orthodox Church, in the process of development of laws, at least on the ones having a “moral” component. This is based also one the role of authorized source of public moral given to the Church. On this background, a risk arises that the central or local public authorities may promote public policies inspired by the conservative-religious view of the life which, effectively, would limit the rights of some minority social groups.

The limit that the citizens of the Republic of Moldova seem to trace for the symbiosis between the Church and State is related to the direct participation of the cults in the political life. But even in this case, things are relative. On the one hand, approximately one third of Moldovans would accept the involvement of the church in politics: selection of candidates depending on conservative-religious criteria or even suggestions given by the hierarchs on how to vote. On the other hand, most of them reject the direct involvement represented by candidateship of the priests. The hard nucleus of the citizens that would accept a radical conservative-religious agenda is estimated around 10% of the population and is formed especially of people with fewer resources.

The study „Church and State in the Republic of Moldova” was developed at the initiative of the Justice and Human Rights Department of the Soros Foundation-Moldova. The opinions expressed in the study belong to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Foundation.