crisis of Communist ideology left a spiritual void that is being
filled in by the traditional religions (Orthodox Christianity,
Islam, and Buddhism) and new religious creeds.
the Soviet era, the communist authorities suppressed church and
religion, and demolished many places of worship. In the 1920s and
1930s, priests, monks, and nuns were targeted as “class enemies” and
put behind bars or sent into exile. Attempts at religious education
of children were branded “counterrevolutionary propaganda” and
stamped out relentlessly.
Only in the
extreme conditions of the Second World War Stalin changed the policy
in relation to the church to a certain degree. The rituals of the
Orthodox Church and tsarist history were invoked in efforts to raise
patriotic sentiments and strength the troops’ morale in the struggle
against the Nazi aggressor. However, after the war religious life
was again severely restricted. Militant atheism continued to be the
regime’s official policy. In the atheistic propaganda of the period
religion was characterized as a “vestige of the past” that had to be
changes in the status of the church and religion began following the
collapse of the Communist regime and the onset of democratic
reforms. Under the current Constitution, Russia is pronounced to be
a secular state that has no single state or compulsory religion.
Religious associations are separated from the state and are equal
before law. Each citizen is guaranteed freedom of conscience and
religion. Believers may now openly perform rites in congregations,
publish religious literature, and engage in charitable activities.
churches have been restored and new ones erected, including Orthodox
churches, Moslem mosques, Catholic cathedrals, and Jewish
synagogues. The colossal Cathedral of Christ the Savior, demolished
by the communists in the 1930s, has now been completely rebuilt in
Moscow. After decades-long neglect and abandonment, many convents
and monasteries have come back to life. Theological academies and
religious seminaries have been reopened. National television
stations regularly show major religious festivals, church services,
of religious organizations in Russia is regulated by the Law on
Freedom of Worship, adopted by the State Duma in 1997. Apart from
Orthodox believers, Russian Christians also include a smaller group
of Catholics (mostly ethnic Poles, Lithuanians, Letts, and Germans),
second major religion is Islam, which has seen a major resurgence
since the demise of Communism. Islam is followed by Tartars,
Bashkirs, Chechens, Kalmyks, Dargins, Kazakhs, and other ethnic
groups. The overwhelming majority of Russian Moslems are Sunnites.
Major cities, such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Samara,
and Nizhny Novgorod, have sunstantial Judaist communities. There are
also significant numbers of Buddhists in Russia, most of whom adhere
to Lamaism. Buddhism is the traditional religion of Buryats,
Tuvinians, Kalmyks, and other ethnic groups.