A new study by PewReserch shows that the number of Russians who identify themselves as “religious” has increased in the past several years. However, the data also stipulates the return to religion has not affected church attendance. Only about one-in-ten Russians appear to participate in any religious service more than once a month. Reflecting on the results, the Religion & Public Life Project writes,
“According to the ISSP, six-in-ten Russian adults (61%) surveyed in 1991 identified as religiously unaffiliated, while about a third said they were Orthodox Christians (31%). Over the next 17 years, those percentages virtually flipped. By 2008, roughly seven-in-ten Russians identified as Orthodox Christians (72%), while about one-in-five were religiously unaffiliated (18%). During the same period, there also was a modest increase in the share of the Russian public identifying with religions other than Orthodox Christianity, including Islam, Protestant Christianity and Roman Catholicism”
Orthodox Christianity has long been the dominate religion in Russia. This changed dramatically after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and the advent of communist ideology. State-sponsored atheism began to overshadow Christian faith, and during the Soviet period many Christians faced unbelievable persecution under government laws. Most Orthodox Christians went underground, hiding their faith behind closed doors. Today, religious freedom is once more available to the people of Russia, but the church still struggles to repair the damage it sustained under communist rule.
Currently, it is unknown if this increase in religious belief has to do with a resurgence of long-held faith, or a new and honest passion for Christ.