Atheism in Russia Cut 50% in Three Years

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by David Hejza  •  •  July 27, 2017   

Christians now make up 86 percent of Russian population

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MOSCOW ( - A recent poll is showing the number of atheists in Russia has dropped by half in the last three years.

According to the Levada Center, a Russian-based, independent, non-governmental research organization, those who consider themselves "absolutely irreligious" fell from 26 percent in 2014 to just 13 percent in 2017. As many as 44 percent described themselves as "quite religious," 33 percent as "not too religious" and 9 percent as "very religious."

The survey was conducted in urban and rural populations within the respondent's home by a personal interview method. In June, a total of 1,600 people aged 18 and over were interviewed in 137 communities in 48 regions.

The results reveal Christians now make up 86 percent of the Russian population, and Orthodoxy remains the most popular religion. More than 92 percent of the people sampled view Orthodoxy with "respect" and "benevolence."


Entrance to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
of the Holy Virgin Mary, opened in 1911, closed by 
Communist authorities in 1937 and reopened in 1999.

Between 2014 and 2017, the feelings toward Catholics have not changed significantly, but 34 percent of the Russians polled view the Holy Catholic Church with "respect" and 40 percent view the Church with "benevolence." Ten percent have "conflicted feelings" toward Catholics and another 5 percent look on them with "dislike" and "fear" combined. Thirteen percent found it "difficult to answer."

The poll is also indicating that Jews are now seen in a more favorable light. The number of those who say they either "dislike" or "fear" Jews has dropped from 15 percent in 2014 to 11 percent in 2017.

As to Muslims, 17 percent have "conflicted feelings," and 13 percent look on Muslims with "dislike" or "fear."

After the Soviet Union dissolved in December 1991, 500,000 Catholics were estimated to be in the country. Several have since died or emigrated to their ethnic homelands in Europe, such as Germany, Belarus or Ukraine. The communist Soviet Union, which persecuted all religions, saw Catholicism as a non-Russian allegiance. Owing to the dominance of the Russian Orthodox Church in present-day Russia, Catholicism is still not officially recognized by the State. As a result, Catholics have commonly been seen as outsiders.

As of 2017, recorded in the Annuario Pontificio, the annual directory of the Holy See of the Catholic Church, disclosed there are approximately 773,000 Catholics in Russia, which is 0.5 percent of the Russian population. Other recent surveys have found Catholics to be slightly more observant than Orthodox, with 25 percent reporting daily prayer versus 17 percent of the Orthodox.



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