Religious Beliefs In Modern Russia

The largest numbers of Russian believers are Russian Orthodox, while large numbers of nonbelievers can be found there as well.

The largest numbers of Russian believers are Russian Orthodox Christians, while scores of nonbelievers can be found there as well. Religion in Russia was suppressed during the Soviet era when atheism was the widespread practice. It was not until the fall of the Soviet Union that religious beliefs re-emerged, setting the foundation for the present day religious groups. Atheism also remained as a practice by a substantial number of Russians. Religious beliefs in modern Russia include:

Orthodox Christianity

The Orthodox Christian belief can be traced back to as early as 988 when Christianity was introduced in Russia under the governance of Prince Vladimir of Kiev. 42.5% of Russians are Orthodox Christian with the largest number being Russian Orthodox. Russian Orthodox, part of the greater Eastern Orthodox, prevailed in Russia until its downfall in the 20th century.Russian Orthodox woes began in 1917, with the Bolshevik Revolution and later with the emergence of the Soviet Union.

Atheism was introduced during the Soviet era, as it was regarded to be communism-appropriate. Churches were abandoned while others were used for other purposes. The Russian Orthodox, through various decrees, was stripped of its titles to the majority of lands and was separated from the school and the state. Another decree was made to forcefully drive out monks from churches. The Russian Orthodox belief was weakened until its re-emergence after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Today, Russia boasts over 5000 churches affiliated to the Russian Orthodox belief. The Russian Orthodox regards some primary beliefs of the Orthodox Theology. One belief recognizes the Holy Trinity, where there are three different divinities connected by a divine essence. Another belief deeply enshrined in the Russian Orthodox is that of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Another doctrine is that of salvation as a product of forgiveness from sin. Believers of the Russian Orthodox consider eternal life to be the end-goal of their commitment.

Russian Orthodox, being the largest belief in Russia, is deemed to have some influence on the affairs of the state. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia endeavored to re-introduce religion. Churches of the Russian Orthodox regained their right to property and had emerged as significant land–owners in Russia. The Church of Russian Orthodox lobbied heavily for the law passed on 1997, preventing particular religious communities from practicing missionary expeditions in the Russian Federations.The presence of the belief in modern day Russia includes Orthodox studies in the School Curriculum and Orthodox chaplains present in the military.


6.5% of believers in Russia profess to the Islamic religion. Islam was introduced to Russia through Dagestan as early as the mid-7th century. The central point of the belief was the Volga region from which it spread to other parts of Russia. Today, communities of Islam in Russia are mainly concentrated in the Volga Region and North Caucasus, with smaller numbers in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Two major Islamic republics in Russia are Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. The Muslims in Tatarstan are majorly ethnic Muslims, direct descendants of the earliest Muslims in Russia: the Volga Bulgars. There are over 5,000 registered Muslim communities in Russia. Islam was however suppressed during the Soviet Union, and many mosques were closed down.

A large number of Muslims in Russia observe the Sunni branch of Islam while a smaller number (nearly 5%) are Shia Muslims. In other areas, notably Chechnya, some Muslims adhere to Sufism. The relationship between Islam and the state in Russia has not been without mistrust.

The state in Russia has long been skeptical about the possibility of radical Islam gaining popularity as witnessed in Iran and Afghanistan. Islam has however grown in popularity, establishing mosques and madras in Russia. A political party, the Nur All-Russia Public Movement was formed to lobby for political, social and economic rights of Muslims and other minority groups.


Atheism and agnosticism are practiced by 18.5% of Russians. Atheism in Russia took root after the disbandment of religion during the Soviet era. In Russia today, there exists populations of atheists and agnostics. Many of the non-believers are opposed to the major religions having influence in the affairs of the state. A large number of atheists and agnostics view religions as being opportunistic. Churches and religious leaders are viewed as being swayed by material riches rather than spirituality by a large number of the two communities.

The two communities are however severely unrepresented in regards to their large numbers. Atheism and Agnostic do not have any overt role in the matters of the nation.

Other Branches Of Christianity

Other than Orthodox, there exist other Christianity beliefs in Russia which include: Protestants, Jehovah’s Witness, the Old Believers, Catholics and Seventh Day Adventists. The majority of these religious beliefs have largely been overlooked because of the dominance of the Russian Orthodox. The aforementioned religious groups have minimal influence in Russia.

Non-religious spirituality boasts 25% of Russia’s population while Pagan, Slavic Folk Religion, and/or Central Asia Shamanism have a 1.2% following. Buddhist or other religions have a following of 0.5% of Russia’s population. The number of Muslims is predicted to rise to nearly 20 million by 2050 in Russia.

Religious Beliefs In Modern Russia

RankBelief SystemShare of Population
1Orthodox Christian42.5%
2Non-religious Spirituality25%
3Atheist or Agnostic18.5%
5Christian other than Orthodox (Roman Catholic, Protestant, or Other)5.8%
6Pagan, Slavic Folk Religion, and/or Central Asian Shamanism1.2%
7Buddhist or Other Religion0.5%

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