A new survey by the independent Levada Centre showed that the proportion of Russians self-identifying as Orthodox Christians rose four-fold in the past 24 years. Today, two out of three Russians regard themselves as Orthodox Christians, compared to just one in six in 1989, in the last days of the USSR. The poll of 1,603 people found that 68 percent said that they were Orthodox Christian, up from 17 percent in 1989. The proportion identifying as Muslim also rose from about 1 percent in 1991 to 7 percent today. The number of Russian Catholics and Protestants remained roughly the same, at about 1 percent. About one in five Russians, or 19 percent, stated that they weren’t religious, compared to 75 percent in 1989, when atheism was the official state ideology, and 53 percent in 1991, after the Soviet collapse.
Most Orthodox believers aren’t regular church-attenders, with only 4 percent saying that they attended services once a week. Some 35 percent said that they never went to church, whilst 17 percent said that they went to services a few times a year. Some 62 percent of Orthodox Christians and Catholics also said that they never received Communion, down from 83 percent in 1991, whilst 8 percent said that they took part in the sacrament a few times a year. Levada ran the poll on 15-18 November 2013 in 130 cities, towns, and villages across 45 Russian federal subjects. The statistical margin of error was +/- 3.4 percent. After decades of repression and official disapproval, Orthodoxy gained greatly in influence in the past 20 years. Besides that, there’s been a major programme of church-building across the country to serve believers’ spiritual needs.
24 December 2013