Survey: Big rise in number of Russian Christians

The number of Russian residents who call themselves Christian has more than doubled according to PewResearch.

Between the years 1991 and 2008, Russian adults identifying at Orthodox Christian rose from 31% to 72%, and the share of Russia’s population not identifying with any religion dropped from 61% – 18%, the February 2014 international survey shows.

However the increase in the number of people identifying as Christians has not corresponded with an increase of numbers attending church.

Only one in ten Russians said they attended religious services at least once a month.

For centuries, Orthodox Christianity was the dominant religion in Russia, however this began to change following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and the imposition of state-sponsored atheism as part of communist ideology.

During the Soviet period, many priests were imprisoned, many churches were converted to other uses or fell into disrepair and people who publicly professed religious beliefs were denied prestigious jobs and admission to universities.

“It is difficult to disentangle the extent to which the upsurge in Orthodox affiliation found in the surveys represents and expression of long-held faith or a genuinely new wave of religious affiliation,” reports the PewResearch study.

The data however suggests the change is not solely an immediate aftereffect of the collapse of the Soviet system.

Other findings concluded:

  • Older Russians (70+) were more affiliated than older (16 – 29)
  • Younger Russians (16 – 29) were more likely to belong to other religions (70+)
  • Religious affiliation did not differ markedly by education level
  • Russian were more likely to identify as Orthodox Christians
  • Russian women believed in God than did Russian men
  • Twice as many Russian men (24%) said they had no religious affiliation.



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