A Russian Religious Revival?

churchMany Russian Orthodox churches are stunningly beautiful both inside and out, but the number of Russians who attend church services regularly and make an effort to observe the tenets of the faith is actually quite tiny. Photo of St. Demetrios of Thessaloniki Church in Kolomäki, St. Petersburg, by the Russian Reader

There Are No More than One to Five Percent Genuine Russian Orthodox Believers in Rostov Region
The Heads of Most So-Called Believers Are Filled with a Mishmash of Christianity, Superstition and Paganism  
Sergei Derkachov
donnews.ru
January 11, 2019

Despite the robust building of churches in Rostov Region and the Russian Orthodox Church’s growing role in civic life, the number of practicing Russian Orthodox Christians in the region is still quite small, according to police statistics. Moreover, genuine Orthodoxy has a worse time of things in Rostov Region than in Russia as a whole.

There are no official statistics of how many people in Rostov Region identify themselves as Russian Orthodox. However, we can make a rough estimate based on other statistics. Thus, a couple of years ago, Merkury, Metropolitan of Rostov and Novocherkassk, said that, during the 2014–2015 school year, 72% of pupils in Rostov-on-Don schools elected to study “Foundations of Orthodox Culture.” In 2015–2016, the corresponding figures were 74.4%; in 2016–2017, they were 80.8%.

Recently, donnews.ru wrote about a public opinion poll conducted among Rostov-on-Don residents in 2017. 65.6% of those surveyed identified themselves as Orthodox, 29.2% as atheists, and 2.8% as Muslims.

In other words, the vast majority of people in Rostov consider themselves Russian Orthodox Christians. However, practicing believers, meaning people who go to churches and attend church services, at least during major church holidays, is considerably  smaller.

Police tallies of the numbers of people who go to church on Christmas and Easter are basically the only way to estimate the real numbers of practicing Orthodox believers in the regions and Russia as a whole, since those who identify themselves as Orthodox but do not attend church regularly usually think it necessary to go to church on the main Christian holidays.

According to the Rostov Regional Office of the Russian Interior Ministry, approximately 42,000 people attended Christmas services in 2019, meaning a mere one percent of the region’s population. A similar figure was reported by the police in 2018. In 2017, approximately 50,000 people attended Christmas services in Rostov Region. The highest number of attendees, 80,000 people, was recorded in 2015.

2.6 million people went to Christmas services nationwide. Based on the current estimated population of Russia, this leaves us with less than two percent of the total population. In Rostov Region, however, with one percent of the population attending church services, this difference is more arresting. Curiously, according to a poll by VTsIOM, 72% of Russians observed Orthodox Christmas. Clearly, what this meant in the vast majority of instances was just another big holiday feast.

According to Russian sociologist Nikolay Mitrokhin, author of The Russian Orthodox Church: Its Current State and Challenges, although the number of churches has increased, the number of believers in Russia has basically remained the same.

“People who attend Christmas services in various regions account for around two percent of the entire population. This gives you a sense of the size of the Russian Orthodox Church’s current impact. In recent years, seventy to seventy-five percent and, in some cases, eighty percent of those polled have identified themselves as Russian Orthodox. And yet the number of people capable of dragging themselves to church on the most important holiday next to Easter is within the margin of statistical error,” says Mitrokhin.

The figures are much better for Easter. According to police statistics, 4 million to 4.3 million people on average go to church on Easter. The Interior Ministry did not supply figures for 2017 and 2018 in Rostov Region. In 2014, 135,000 people attended Easter services; in 2015, over 260,000 people; and in 2016, 326,000 people. In this case, however, we should take two important factors into account. First, the difference in weather conditions: Easter usually falls on a Sunday in late April or early May, whereas Orthodox Christmas is fixed on the calendar: the night of January 6 and the wee hours of January 7. Second, in the case of Easter, the police count not only people who attend church services but also people who stop by church only to have their Easter dinner delicacies blessed.

Generally, the number of people who go to church once a year on Christmas and Easter is many times lower than those who identify themselves as Russian Orthodox in opinion polls. It is also worth noting that a considerable segment of the populace persists in visiting cemeteries on Easter, deeming it almost an obligation or an Orthodox tradition, although the Church has designated a different holiday for the purpose, Radonitsa, observed during the second week after Easter.

This points to Russian Orthodoxy’s other major probem: the populace’s spiritual illiteracy. In 2012, Boris Dubin, head of sociopolitical research at the Levada Center, claimed that, according to their surveys, only forty percent of Russian Orthodox believers in Russia believed God existed. Thirty percent of the faithful were sure, on the contrary, that God did not exist. Only twenty-five percent of Russians observe the Lenten fast, according to annual polls by the Levada Center. In recent years, however, the Great Fast has been treated by some people as a diet that has no ideological and religious implications. People also often equate giving up one or two food items with keeping the fast.

The minds of most Orthodox Russians are filled with a mishmash of Christianity, superstition, and paganism. Even Metropolitan Merkury recently said Russians are “complete spiritual illiterates and devoid of religious education.”

“Our people do not have a clue about Holy Scripture, sacred history, and the deeds of Russian saints. They do not link these things together into a single whole,” he said.

The well-known Russian priest and writer Andrei Lorgus commented on these circumstances a year ago on his Facebook page.

“Every year, during Easter and Christmas, I look at the Interior Ministry’s tallies. Of course, they do not match our own estimates, which are based on records of parishioners. You could say that the holiday pool [sic] of Orthodox in Russia is less than 3.5%. We have even had people who were not baptized attend holiday night vigil services. So, the Church in Russia is numerically no more than three percent. There are three percent of us! Are there too few of us? Considering our tragic history, it is hard to say. But when perestroika kicked off, and the Church was restored to its rights, we expected more. As someone who was a neophyte in the 1980s, I am disappointed. Or, rather, I was disappointed, but I am not disappointed anymore. Indeed, there was no way there could have been more, despite the huge efforts and sacrifices that were made.”

Finally, Patriarch Kirill himself recognizes the small number of true Orthodox Christians in Russia. During a sermon delivered on November 24, 2018, at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Kaliningrad, he drew the flock’s attention to the difference between statistics and reality.

“Although statistically the majority of Russians now say they belong to the Orthodox faith, statistical belonging and actual strict observance are different things. We must work to make our people practicing Russian Orthodox Christians, to make people feel with their minds and hearts how vital it is to be with God, to make them feel the power of prayer, to make them feel how prayer closes the chain through which communication between them and God is effected.”

According to the patriarch, the Russian people are still only at the very start of their spiritual rebirth.

Thanks a billion to Nikolay Mitrokhin for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

Russian Communism Today (Let Jesus into Your Heart)

Jesus Christ, the first Russian Communist

Putin Asked to Deploy Missiles in Cuba
TV Zvezda
April 27, 2016

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation has proposed deploying Russian missiles in Cuba, reports RIA Novosti.

Communist Party MPs Valery Rashkin and Sergei Obukhov have sent the relevant appeal to President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The CPRF members have suggested reopening the Lourdes SIGINT Station and deploying missiles on the Island of Freedom to protect the interests of Russian and its allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

The MPs thus propose responding to a Reuters report that the US plans to deploy HIMARS rocket launchers in southeastern Turkey in May.

“First of all, we are talking about deploying Russian rocket launchers of a similar or even greater range in Cuba. Also, an asymmetrical response to Washington by way of reactivating the SIGINT station in Lourdes seems appropriate,” the MPs write in their appeal.

_________

Zyuganov Considers Christ “First Communist in History”
TASS
April 20, 2016

The head of the CPRF Central Committee called the feast of Christ’s Resurrection an “amazing, wonderful holiday” that “is in no way at odds with workers’ solidarity.”

CPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov confirmed that the Communists do not intend to forego involvement in May Day rallies despite reports that they might be cancelled in a number of Russia’s regions due to Easter.

“Official processions are cancelled, but as for public organizations, no Aksyonov [head of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov] can cancel them,” Zyuganov told TASS.

He recalled that May 1 is International Workers’ Day, a holiday that “came into being in defense of working people’s rights,” and is an official holiday in the Russian Federation.

“And no administrator can cancel this holiday,” argues the leader of the Communist Party.

“Workers have no other way to defend their rights except solidarity. They have every right to gather on May 1 and voice their opinion. We are going to be involved in these events, and our Crimean organization will also be involved,” said Zyuganov.

As for Orthodox Easter, which this year also falls on May 1, Zyuganov called the feast of Christ’s Resurrection an “amazing, wonderful holiday” that “is in no way at odds with workers’ solidarity.”

“Because Christ was the first communist in modern history. He raised his voice for orphans, for the needy, for the sick, for the wretched, for everyone who had it bad. In this sense, if he were alive, he would be marching with us,” said the head of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

Earlier, the head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov* said that Crimean authorities would not be holding official May Day demonstrations and rallies due to Orthodox Easter.

“This year, May Day coincides with the Easter holiday. Many of us will be spending the night before May first in churches at Easter services, and many will be celebrating the Holy Resurrection of Christ with their families. The authorities of the Republic of Crimea are not planning May Day demonstrations and rallies this year. There will not be any official celebrations. But people may decide for themselves how they will celebrate the Holiday of Spring and Labor,” Aksyonov said in a statement released by his press office.

The media have also reported the trade unions of Surgut and Tambov have decided not to hold May Day events for the same reason. May Day rallies in Russia have usually been organized by trade union organizations, mainly the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russian (FNPR), which has nearly twenty million members.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Image courtesy of Jesus Wallpaper

 

Sergey Aksyonov has led efforts to stamp out dissent among ethnic Crimean Tatars over the annexation, saying “All activities aimed at non-recognition of Crimea’s joining to Russia and non-recognition of the leadership of the country will face prosecution under the law and we will take a very tough stance on this.”

Aksyonov says homosexuals “have no chance” in Crimea, and that “we in Crimea do not need such people.” He also promised that if gays tried to hold public gatherings, “our police and self-defense forces will react immediately and in three minutes will explain to them what kind of sexual orientation they should stick to.”

Source: Wikipedia