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Religious Transition in Russia

Religious Transition in Russia
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210/145/25 mm
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0.53 kg
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The religious situation in Russia drastically changed after the collapse of communism. The Soviet state aimed to overcome religion and replace it with a scientific atheistic world-view. A massive system of atheistic education was established and religious organisations were persecuted in various ways. After 1988, as a consequence of the 1000-year anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Church (Millennium), the policy concerning religion was totally changed: churches and other houses of prayer were opened or returned to their original purpose and new parishes were founded. Since the late 1980s, millions of people have been baptised and thousands of churches and mosques have been opened. The former "opium of the people" came to be regarded as "an integrating factor in society" and the Russian Orthodox Church has become an institution with which almost all parties would like to cooperate. There also appeared a hope that Orthodoxy could be the solution for the ideological and moral crises in post-communist Russia. The popularity of religion increased so quickly that the situation in the early 1990s was often termed "a religious Renaissance".

The following aspects of Russia's religious life are examined: The transformation of religiosity and values among the general population and among various elites. Religiosity and values among ethnic minorities and the influence of religion in creating national identity. Religion and politics. New religious movements in Russia. The influence of new religious legislation in Russia. The public discourse on religion in Russia. Russia's religious and moral situation in comparison with other countries.

The book is based on surveys and interviews carried out throughout Russia in 1991-1999. In addition, archive material, various documents and other relevant literature has been used.

"A great value in this book is its attempt to quantify religious beliefs and practices as reported by respondents throughout the last decade. These statistics document not only a rise in public religiosity (e.g. church attendance), at least in the first half of the 1990s before the leveling-off took place, but also changes in the numbers of people professing a variety of beliefs. Some of thsese beliefs are far from being orthodox Christian ones and include beliefs in reincarnation, astrology, or sorcery. It is to be recommended as a resource for anyone interested in Russian society in the modern world."

David C. Lewis, University of Cambridge (Slavic Review, Spring 2002)
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