Belonging But Not Believing (Strongly): Examining the Political Implications of the Resurgence of Orthodoxy in Post-Soviet Russia
37 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 4 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2011
With increasing numbers of people identifying themselves as Russian Orthodox, post-Soviet Russia appears to be an exception to secularization trends in Europe. But is this resurgence of Orthodox self-identification a genuine surge in religiosity and are divisions over religious issues gaining strength and political relevance as a result? A longitudinal examination of seven waves of national stratified random surveys covering the period from 1993 to 2007, indicates that there has been a resurgence of Orthodox self-identification, an increase in church attendance and a shift toward conservative morality that seeks to restrict various aspects of freedom of choice. We show however that most growth in church attendance is among sporadic churchgoers, and the modest observed increase in conservative values appears to have little basis in increased religiosity, which has little impact on presidential or party support. The resurgence of Orthodoxy in Russia represents a "lukewarm religiosity", following the lifting restrictions on espousing religious affiliations under communism, rather than a dramatic strengthening of religious involvement with pronounced implications for social and political divisions.
Keywords: Russia, religiosity, vote choice, Russian Orthodox, secularization, church attendance
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