Religion in Russia

Religion in Russia

Orthodox Christianity (Russian: Православие "Pravoslavije"), is Russia’s traditional religion, deemed part of Russia's "historical heritage" in a law passed in 1997. [cite web|last=Bell|first=Imogen|title=Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia|url=|accessdate=2007-12-27]
Russian Orthodoxy is the dominant religion in Russia.cite web|title=Religion In Russia|publisher=Embassy of the Russian Federation|url=|accessdate=2007-12-27] 95% of the registered Orthodox parishes belong to the Russian Orthodox Church while there are a number of smaller Orthodox Churches. [cite web|title=ru iconСведения о религиозных организациях, зарегистрированных в Российской Федерации По данным Федеральной регистрационной службы|date=December 2006|url=|accessdate=2007-12-27] However, the vast majority of Orthodox believers do not attend church on a regular basis. Nonetheless, the church is widely respected by both believers and nonbelievers, who see it as a symbol of Russian heritage and culture. Smaller Christian denominations such as Roman Catholics, Armenian Gregorian and various Protestants exist.

The ancestors of many of today’s Russians adopted Orthodox Christianity in the 10th century.cite web|last=Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2007|title=Russia|url=|accessdate =2007-12-27] Approximately 100 million citizens consider themselves Russian Orthodox Christians, amounting to 70% of population [ [ Russia ] ] ;also according to a poll by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, 63% of respondents considered themselves Russian Orthodox, 5% of respondents considered themselves Muslim and less than 1% considered themselves either Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant or Jewish. Another 12% said they believe in God, but did not practice any religion, and 16% said they are non-believers.cite web|title=ru_iconОпубликована подробная сравнительная статистика религиозности в России и Польше||date=6 June 2007|url=|accessdate=2007-12-27]

It is estimated that Russia is home to 14 million people of traditionally Muslim ethniсity. [cite web|title=Fact Box: Muslims In Russia|publisher=Radio Free Europe|url=|accessdate=2007-12-27] cite web|last=Page|first=Jeremy|title=The rise of Russian Muslims worries Orthodox Church|published=The Times|url=|accessdate=2007-12-27] However, surveys say that there are only 7 million people who adhere to the Islamic faith in Russia. [cite web|url=|publisher=Interfax|title=20Mln Muslims in Russia and mass conversion of ethnic Russians are myths - expert|accessdate=2008-04-01] Russia also has an estimated 3 million to 4 million Muslim migrants from the ex-Soviet states.cite web|title=Russia's Islamic rebirth adds tension|publisher=Financial Times|url=|accessdate=2007-12-27] Most Muslims live in the Volga-Ural region, as well as in the North Caucasus, Moscow, St. Petersburg and western Siberia. [cite web|last=Mainville|first=Michael|title=Russia has a Muslim dilemma|work=Page A - 17|publisher=San Francisco Chronicle|date=November 19, 2006|url=|accessdate=2007-12-27] Buddhism is traditional for three regions of the Russian Federation: Buryatia, Tuva and Kalmykia. [cite web|last=Nettleton|first=Steve|title=Prayers for Ivolginsky|publisher=CNN|url=|accessdate=2007-12-27] Some residents of the Siberian and Far Eastern regions, Yakutia, Chukotka, etc., practice pantheistic and pagan rites, along with the major religions. Induction into religion takes place primarily along ethnic lines. Slavs are overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian.cite web|title=Russia::Religion|publisher=Encyclopædia Britannica Online|date=2007|url=|accessdate=2007-12-27] Turkic speakers are predominantly Muslim, although several Turkic groups in Russia are not.


Detailed analysis of popularity of religions in Russia is complicated by the fact that different approaches to quantifying adherents of different religious groups often give contradictory results.
* The most natural approach is based on self-identification data. The majority of Russian citizens, and as many as 90% of ethnic Russians, self-identify as Russian Orthodox. This makes Russian Orthodox Church by far the most widespread religion, with as many as 70-75 million adult adherents.

Based on self-identification data, population of Russia includes 70.2% of Russian Orthodox Christians, a little more than 1% of Protestants (including 0.3% of Lutherans), little less than 1% of Roman Catholics and some 0.1% of Old Believers. About 0.1% of population are adherents of Buddhism. Russian census of 2002 found 230 thousand (0.16%) ethnic Jews in the country, but only 8% of them, which is 0.01% of total population) self-identify as followers of Judaism. More than 24% are Muslim. Small religions in Russian population comprise 0.19%. 4% of population identified themselves as non-believers.

* The so-called "ethnic approach" is primarily useful when applied towards ethnic religious communities that are small and/or compact enough to be "left out" of normal public opinion polls. It based on an assumption that 100% of population of every ethnic minority are adherents of their group's traditional religion. A good example of such a religious community is Assyrian Church of the East, represented in Russia by ethnic Assyrians. With the body of followers of less than 15,000, it wouldn't show up or would fall within the margin of error on any reasonable religious self-identification poll, and its size can only be reasonably inferred from census data using the ethnic approach.

The ethnic approach is sometimes misused to artificially "inflate" prevalence of certain religions. For example, according to the Russian census of 2002, at least 14 million Russians belong to traditional Islamic ethnic groups (Tatars, Bashkirs, etc.) Due to the worker migration from former Soviet republics, this number may have grown to 20 million by 2007. Consequently, it is often claimed that Islam has 14 million (or even 20-25 million) adherents in Russia. [ [ Fact Box: Muslims In Russia] ] On the other hand, self-identification analysis results in a more conservative estimate of 6-7 million adult Muslims.

* One can get radically different results by estimating the number of "observant" followers of every religion, the reason being that members of many ethnic groups often choose to self-identify as adherents to a certain religion for cultural reasons, although they would not fit any traditional religiousness criteria (church attendance, familiarity with basic dogmas of their faith). For example, even though 80% of ethnic Russians self-identify as Russian Orthodox, less than 10% of them attend church services more than once a month. Similar numbers apply to most Islamic ethnic groups outside Northern Caucasus.

Depending on the exact criteria, it is believed that there are 3-15 million practicing Orthodox Christians and 1.5-4 million practicing Muslims in Russia. [ [ Religion in Modern Russian Society (Russian)] ] It is difficult to estimate observance of self-identified followers of other religions. The only faiths which are likely not to suffer from this phenomenon as strongly are those without ethnic basis in the country: most branches of Protestantism, New religious movements, Krishnaism, Bahá'í.

* Yet another way of comparing relative popularity of various religions in Russia is to look at the numbers of registered local congregations (Christian parishes, Muslim mosques, and so on). According to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), there were 21,664 registered religious organizations in Russia as of January 1, 2004, including 20,403 local congregations. 10,767 were Russian Orthodox; 3,397 were Muslim; almost 5,000 were various Protestant organizations and groups; 267 were Old Believers; 256 were Judaic; 235 were Roman Catholic; 180 were Buddhist. However, religions can vary significantly in numbers of followers per congregation, and some religions may be somewhat "under-registered" for various reasons. Using these numbers, one attempt to estimate numbers of practicing followers of different religions in Russia arrives at the following results: 3-15 million Russian Orthodox; 2.8 million Muslim; over 1.5 million Protestant (including at least 900 thousand Pentecostals); no more than 500 thousand Buddhists; 300 thousand followers of New religious movements; 60-200 thousand Roman Catholic; 50-80 thousand Old Believers.

One experiences similar problems when trying to determine the number of atheists in Russia. As discussed above, the majority of Russians are non-observant, and more than 50% never attend church services of any kind. On the other hand, numbers of those self-identifying as "non-religious" are much lower, and, further, vary wildly from poll to poll (from 14% to 36%). Numbers of self-identified atheists are often as low as 4%. [ [ Воинство.Ru / Новости / По данным опроса ВЦИОМ в России всего лишь 4% убежденных атеистов ] ] [ [ Цифры и факты ] ]


Several mechanisms are responsible for gradual changes in the religious structure of Russia.
* Most religions present in Russia are ethnic-based. Expectedly, their prevalence changes as their respective ethnic groups grow or shrink. The most prominent example of this is Judaism -- the number of ethnic Jews in Russia shrunk by more than a factor of 10 since mid-20th century; correspondingly, Judaism is now all but non-existent. Number of Lutherans and Mennonites has declined somewhat since Soviet era due to emigration of Volga Germans. Conversely, the population of Islamic ethnic groups continues to grow (from 8% of total population of the country in 1989 to at least 10% in 2002), and so does prevalence of Islam.
* Missionary work of various Western Protestant and "new religious" groups in Russia since 1990 contributed to growth of a number of non-ethnic religions and faiths.
* There are indications that some traditional religions are on the decline as well. Old believers are down to less than 1% compared to 10% in Czarist Russia. Buddhism is on the decline among its traditional followers in Southern Asia, supplanted by Shamanism.
* On the other hand, the New Age movement has led to emergence of some "non-traditional" religions in large cities. Polls indicate that around 1% of population of Moscow and St.Petersburg self-identify as Buddhists. Many of these are Slavic and have no ethnic connection to Buddhism.
* Like many other developed countries, Russia experiences growth of Neopaganism, but it is difficult to quantify. On one hand, the number of people who believe in various occult and paranormal phenomena is quite high, even comparable to the number of Christians. Slavic mythology is popular. On the other hand, the prevalence of overt neopagans appears to be low.

Registered religious organizations

The following is a detailed breakdown of numbers of registered religious organizations in Russia as of December 2006 [ [ Сведения о религиозных организациях, зарегистрированных в Российской ФедерацииПо данным Федеральной регистрационной службы, декабрь 2006] ru icon ] .



12830 organizations, including:

*Russian Orthodox Church: 12,214
*Old believers (a breakaway faction of the Russian Orthodox Church): 285 (divided among 4 groups)
*Armenian Apostolic: 68
*Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church: 43
*Russian Orthodox Church Abroad: 30
*Molokan: 27
*Russian True Orthodox Church: 42
*Russian Orthodox Free Church: 10
*Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate: 11


4453 organizations.

*Pentecostals: 1,486
*Baptists: 965
*Evangelicals: 740
*Seventh-day Adventist: 652
*Lutheran: 228 (divided among 4 groups)
*Presbyterian: 187
*Methodist: 115
* New Apostolic: 80
*Various evangelical groups (Word of Faith, Apostolic, "teetotallers"): 70
*Salvation Army: 32
*Church of Christ: 26
*Mennonite: 9
*Reformist: 5
*Anglican: 1
*Dukhobor: 0


1487 organizations.

*Russian Catholic Church: 1,234
*Roman Catholic: 248
*Greek Catholic: 5


507 organizations.

*Jehovah's Witnesses: 386
*The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons): 50
* [ Church of the "Sovereign" Icon of the Mother of God] : 27
*Church of the Last Testament: 11
*Unification Church: 9
*non-denominational Christian: 24

Other religions

4355 organizations.

*Islam: 3,537
*Judaism: 267 (divided among Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform groups).
**Karaite: 1
*Buddhism: 192
*Krishnaism: 80
*Bahá'í: 20
*Shamanism: 14
*Pagan: 11
*Taoism: 6
*Assyrian: 2
*Scientology: 2
*Tantra: 2
*Hinduism: 1
*Sikh: 1
*Zoroastrianism: 1
*Spiritual Unity (Tolstoyan): 1
*Living Ethics (Rerikhian): 1
*Other Confessions: 216

ee also

*Religion in the Soviet Union
*Buddhism in Russia
*Islam in Russia
*Judaism in Russia
*Religion in present-day nations and states
*Roman Catholicism in Russia
*Protestants in Russia


External links

* [ International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Russia]
* [ Statistics of Russian Religiousness (Russian)]
* [ Confessional Structure of Russian Population (Russian)]
* [ Registered Religious Organizations as of January 1, 2004; Ministry of Justice data (Russian)]
* [ Russia has a Muslim dilemma (article in San Francisco Chronicle)]
* [ Muslims In Russia]
* [ Religious minorities in Russia and Lithuania (Russian)]
*CathEncy|wstitle=The Religion of Russia

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