Religion in Russia
Religion has always played a large role in the history of Russia, and still does today. While under the rule of the Communist Party, the country experienced many restraints in regard to public displays of religion in Russia and these were influenced by the political climate of the time. During World War II, for example, the country wanted the support of Christian countries and therefore allowed citizens to express their Christianity. Residents are now able to practice their religion freely, but religion in Russia has remained divided into eight main religious groups.
The eight Russian religions, of which Russian Orthodox is the most dominant group, include Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Atheists, Buddhists, Jews and a small group containing various other religious views. The rise of the Russian Orthodox Church to the largest of the Russian religions began in 988, when the country accepted Christianity under the rule of Prince Vladimir of Kiev. Even though it is a religion that has survived in Russia, it is also a religion that was persecuted vigorously, stripping them of their power and property between the years of 1917 to 1918. Hundreds of monks were evicted from monasteries as the properties, which were owned by the church, were confiscated by the government. Monasteries were destroyed, vandalized and shrines were raided for any precious relics and artifacts. In later years, many of the properties were returned to the Russian Orthodox Church, and at present there are approximately five thousand establishments across the country.
The Jewish population has started to dwindle in recent years, because from the 1980’s immigration to countries such as Israel was finally possible, and many Jewish families and communities relocated. A large group of Russians have confirmed themselves to be either atheist or non-religious. Catholics, Protestants and Muslims make up the larger groups. In comparison to the larger religious groups, smaller congregations of other religions also exist with Russia, such as Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, Old Believers and Evangelicals.
Russia is a country with many different religions and views. Some religions are almost as old as the country itself, and others have found their place in the community over the passing years. Fortunately, for all the religious groups of Russia, they are now able to practice and exhibit their religions with freedom and without limitations.