Ukraine had a long and rich history of religious developments with Eastern Orthodox Christianity dominating the scene in the country. Forced conversions, dictates of the Soviet government, World War II associated persecution of the Jews, are all part of the religious movements taking place in the country.
Before 988 AD Ukraine was a pagan country but that year Vladimir the Great, leader of the Kievan Rus', converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. After this event took place mass baptisms and conversions took place, along with the destruction of pagan shrines across the Kievan Rus', and since then Ukraine has been a majority Eastern Orthodox country. One of the greatest accomplishments of the Ukrainian Eastern Orthodoxy is the conversion of the scripture of the religion into the Slavic language, which makes it more accessible to people in Ukraine and the whole Slavic speaking world. In 1917 Ukraine came under the rule of the Soviet Union and communism. During this period of the Soviet rule until their collapse in 1991, the governing Soviets promoted atheism and persecuted any religious activity.
The spread of atheism in Ukraine is a more historically recent phenomenon that started when Ukraine joined the Soviet Union as one of its republics in 1922. The Soviets wanted to eliminate religion from society and replace it with atheism due to their heavily negative experiences with the Russian Orthodox Church that was deeply intertwined with the Russian Empire. As a communist state, the Soviet government heavily enforced atheism in society and worked to repress and eliminate any kind of religious activity. This enforcement led to the persecution of the followers of many religious groups in Ukraine and the deportation of others. Ukraine was under Soviet Rule for almost 70 years which meant that generations of Ukrainians grew up without religion. Since the Soviet Union collapsed religion has made a comeback in the country, but the past influence their legacy along with younger people being less likely to be religious in the modernized world combined to give Ukraine a high atheist population.
Uniate Catholics are part of the Uniate Church, which is more commonly known as the Eastern Rite Church. The Eastern Rite Church in Ukraine has its origins in the Union of Brest-Litovsk in 1596. Some Ukrainian Eastern Orthodox bishops reestablished a union with the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope. As a part of this union, members of the Eastern Rite Church accepted Roman Catholicism, the authority of the Pope and the seven sacraments but retained all of the characteristics from their Ukrainian Eastern Orthodox past to themselves as they see fit. The Eastern Rite Church gained great popularity in the eastern parts of Ukraine over the next few centuries. When Ukraine came under Soviet rule, Uniate Catholics were persecuted, arrested and deported with some immigrating to the United States and Canada. Since Ukraine became independent, the Eastern Rite Church has regained popularity, especially in the far eastern parts of Ukraine.
Protestantism first came to Ukraine a few decades after the Reformation started when the first commune was set up by Anabaptists in the city of Volodymyr-Volynsk. Over the next few centuries, various forms of Protestantism made their way into Ukraine, spreading across the eastern half of the country. Like other religions, all forms of Protestantism were suppressed under Soviet rule but have since reestablished themselves since Ukraine became independent again. As of today, the various forms of Protestantism that are in Ukraine include: Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Seventh- day Adventists, Mennonites, and the Sub-Carpathian Reformed Church.
The Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine has had a very limited presence in the country for around the last 500 years since for most of Ukraine's history Eastern Orthodox Church and the Uniate Church have been the dominant Christian religions. Roman Catholicism was mostly practiced by ethnic minorities living in Ukraine, particularly the Poles. During and after World War Two, Roman Catholicism in Ukraine suffered as much of the Polish minority was killed or deported, and the Soviet Union repressed Roman Catholicism. In 1991 after Ukraine became independent the Pope officially restored Roman Catholic church activities in the country.
Islam has a very long history in Ukraine, one that can be traced back to before Eastern Orthodoxy was introduced to Ukraine or even before the Kievan Rus' existed. Muslims in Ukraine mostly lived in the southern part of the country, mostly in the Crimean peninsula that juts out into the Black Sea. The Crimean Tartars that live in Crimea are Sunni Muslims. Crimean Tartars established the Crimean Khanate that succeeded the Golden Horde in 1449 but quickly became a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. In 1784 the Crimean Khanate was annexed by the Russian Empire. Unfortunately for the Crimean Tartars Russian rule came with persecution and exodus that culminated in 1944 when Joseph Stalin had the entire Muslim population of Crimea Tartars deported to far regions of the Soviet Union since he thought they were collaborating with the Nazis. The Crimean Tartars were finally allowed to return to Crimea in the 1980s but has never recovered from the event. Know the remaining few Crimean Tartars are back under Russian rule after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Much like Islam, Judaism also has a very long history in Ukraine, one that can be traced back to before Eastern Orthodoxy was introduced to Ukraine or even before the Kievan Rus' existed. The Jews in Ukraine experienced mostly prosperity and tolerance under the rule of the Kingdom of Poland and later the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth who took over most of Ukraine following the collapse of the Kievan Rus'. This situation changed in 1648 when Bohdan Khmelnytsky led an uprising against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, creating the Cossack Hetmanate in Ukraine. Khmelnysky sought to eradicate Jews from Ukraine, and it is at this point that violence against Jews in Ukraine was common. This situation worsened during World War Two, when, post-war, only around 100,000 of the original 2.7 million Jews survived and stayed in Ukraine following Nazi occupation. The number of Jews in Ukraine has never recovered from the Holocaust.
Largest Religions In The Ukraine
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