This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Rise of religion in Russia

Rise of religion in Russia - Comments

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 1 by sunbeamforjeebus

Having just read the biography of Vladimir Putin 'The man without a Face',by Masha Gessen, which I heartily recommend, I believe the increase in christian Church attendance in Russia actually suits Putin's agenda.Whilst he is instituting huge fines for anyone caught protesting he is openly welcoming clergy to the Kremlin and being publically shown doing so.It is merely another control tool he has added to his arsenal.Also by allowing christianity to emerge from underground it shows him as a strong leader,unafraid of other threatening dogma, and adds christians to his dwindling list of supporters.

Mon, 30 Jul 2012 14:33:53 UTC | #950310

johnburr54's Avatar Comment 2 by johnburr54

It does indeed seem as if religion is on the rise in Russia. I saw today for the first time that 3 women of a punk rock band are on trial there and could get as much as 7 years if convicted for a protest against Putin in one of Moscow's churches. This is a sad day indeed for the Russian society in general as the church there backs Putin and Putin in turn is using it to get a greater hold on Russian society. My heart goes out to the Russian people and I truly hope that demonstrations will not be barred completely with this show of force toward the punk band.

Mon, 30 Jul 2012 16:04:21 UTC | #950312

adiroth's Avatar Comment 3 by adiroth

You have to know that the hook of organised religions is not only the supernatural story they're trying to sell. The most powerful hook they have over the masses is the self-supporting ecosystem they've built to benefit their ingroup. They provide social support, camaraderie, positive reinforcement for expected behaviours, punishment for infractions and many other little things that makes it easy to be part of their organisation. Little sects often take more out of their members than they provide, creating unsustainable conditions, but established religions can usually tend their flock well enough, milking them while growing their population.

Religions are sold in package. If you want to get all the benefits, you will have to buy into the supernatural crap too. Secular organisations, ideas and science, however, are the complete opposite. You don't have to say hail Darwins when you go to hospital or pray to Benjamin Franklin when using electricity. So, you can say that religions are the free riders of scientific progress and secular institutions.

Given a group of relatively rational self-interested population, upon realising that modern conveniences can be taken for granted, the only thing they will worry about is whether the supernatural belief is worth the bonuses in the package. They won't have to sacrifice their iPhones and internet for believing in the supernatural.

If one can disregard the absurdity of the supernatural, in terms of utility, there really is not much to lose for joining a religion.

More specifically for Russia, I think religion have become popular again because the population have forgotten how corrupt it could be or the majority of the population have never experienced it first hand after all those years of Soviet rule. Give them some time, if the new religious institutions are not learning any new tricks, then Russia will most likely go the way of Europe after a period of religious revival.

However, religion is not going down without a fight, it's going to be a drawn out process, because in comparison, secular organisations in general do not actively attack them despite the religious right's fantasies.

Mon, 30 Jul 2012 17:50:44 UTC | #950315

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 4 by Alan4discussion

Comment 3 by adiroth

You have to know that the hook of organised religions is not only the supernatural story they're trying to sell. The most powerful hook they have over the masses is the self-supporting ecosystem they've built to benefit their ingroup. They provide social support, camaraderie, positive reinforcement for expected behaviours, punishment for infractions and many other little things that makes it easy to be part of their organisation. Little sects often take more out of their members than they provide, creating unsustainable conditions, but established religions can usually tend their flock well enough, milking them while growing their population.

You only have to look at Hitler, Mussonlini, Right wing US politicians, South American dictators, Arab despots etc, to see religions cosying up to ambitious political groups to carve up minds, bodies and assets with sheeple support.

Since I was in the Moscow in the 1970s, when there were NO millionaires in the USSR, the question is "Where did they all come from so quickly?" The vacuum created by the collapse of communism and the gap in law enforcement should be a clue. Corruption - religion, hand in hand????

Mon, 30 Jul 2012 18:13:44 UTC | #950316

Modesti's Avatar Comment 5 by Modesti

Same thing is here in Croatia and other former republics of SFR Yugoslavia. After and during the war, the church suddenly became very important. Religion has always been associated with nationalism and politics, and I believe that this is one of three big vampires on the planet. These are politics, religion and crime, deeply interconnected from the beginning. They are brothers. I regret that in Russia is the same thing as in Croatia. Besides that I think that religion is brother to politics and crime, religion may be attractive as a community for those who feel insecure when they are no longer equal and therefore secure in society because society has changed itself to independence and individualism. For some people, religious community represent safety. However, I believe that is a different thing, because here in Croatia you are only good Croat if you are a Catholic!! Ghastly! Nationalism (religion) and crime.

Mon, 30 Jul 2012 18:54:27 UTC | #950317

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 6 by ZenDruid

Good point, Modesti.

Religion gives the illusion to its participants that they are automatically shielded from the consequences of crime and politics (redundant), but they don't understand that they are played for suckers every day, and when in thrall to a competent priest they are easily transformed into a rabid mob.

Mon, 30 Jul 2012 19:34:35 UTC | #950318

RDfan's Avatar Comment 7 by RDfan

Could it be that after decades of repression by the communist party, religion in Russia is finally getting enough air to breath again?

From what I've read by Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and other Russian writers of the pre-communist era, religion was always an important part of Russian (public and private) life, as it is elsewhere.

I wonder if there is an actual rise in religion in Russia or whether there is just an increasingly public expression of a repressed urge that has been there for years.

Aside: It would be natural for (vote-seeking) politicians to align themselves with such a powerful force in society.

Tue, 31 Jul 2012 01:54:48 UTC | #950327

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 8 by Premiseless

"atheists are animals and should be in hospital"

So which god of myth is the "god not of myth" my fellow homo sapiens and to what would you consider the particular selective evolution this god chose in only revealing itself except to a select minority in an age when communication technology took centuries to include all its species?

How in fact would your hospital doctor diagnose this question, prior to even considering the answer?

Tue, 31 Jul 2012 04:08:46 UTC | #950329

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 9 by Alan4discussion

Comment 7 by RDfan

Could it be that after decades of repression by the communist party, religion in Russia is finally getting enough air to breath again?

Communism did give thoroughly enforced laws and some aspects of personal security (while repressing others), but was its self a sort of quasi-religion, for which some will look for a substitute.

There is a widely recognised reaction of retreating into the flock when creatures feel insecure of threatened.

Understanding this behavior in healthy animals may help researchers understand the breakdown in social behaviours caused by neurological disorders in sheep, as well as those in humans, such as Huntington's disease.

The findings support a 40-year-old idea put forward by evolutionary biologist Bill Hamilton. He suggested that creatures as different as insects, fish and cattle all react to danger by moving towards the middle of their respective swarms, schools or herds. -

Tue, 31 Jul 2012 08:33:40 UTC | #950333

richard jr miles's Avatar Comment 10 by richard jr miles

Unfortunately human evolution is not uniform throughout the world and suppressed or slow to evolve nations, including those restricted by a dictator and or religion, are very vunerable to the false comfort that the hocus pocus placebo drug of religion provides for them.

Tue, 31 Jul 2012 10:29:36 UTC | #950334

navinovich2000's Avatar Comment 11 by navinovich2000

Yes, I lived in Volgograd, Russia from 1991 when the soviet Empire fell till 2008 when the Westernization had totally set in. Everything about Communism was deemed evil including atheism. Scientists and mathematicians were fleeing their beloved motherland to Israel, West Europe and United States. Religion and Superstitions were taking this great nation into its stronghold. Religions and loony sects saw Russia as a paradise, a blank slate, to grow into. I was saddened that this great nation was slowly entering its dark ages where every smart guy wanted to be a businessman rather than be a cosmonaut or a scientist.

Tue, 31 Jul 2012 14:24:38 UTC | #950336

maria melo's Avatar Comment 12 by maria melo

I am afraid I would hurt someone if I had to comment on it, or that my comment could be interpreted as mokery.

It seems to me that after the russian revolution- theme that I had choosen for a History exam- there still was a "religion" afterall, with cult of state members, which I rather call totalitarian (what I hate the most), including indoctrination of children from early ages... what I find besides fun. I never had such an education that indoctrinates children from early ages to love the "Great Nation", but my older brother and sister had a bit of a similar period in their school time, they had to sing the hymn before entering the school, I find this all ridicule and rather love the sense of individuality and Rosseau. Notice that I think I may be the reverse side after a "revolution".

What can I say ? Is this reverse side ? It will need time to balance things after "revolutions" and perhaps a period of 50 years for historians to analyse what really had changed, and I am afraid sometimes not all things change, for instance the stupidity of people.

I am sorry for my comment.

Tue, 31 Jul 2012 17:21:32 UTC | #950338

Vicar of Art on Earth's Avatar Comment 13 by Vicar of Art on Earth

The Czar of Russia is created by God, to go against the Czar is to go against God. Besides I think the Church wants its serfs/slaves back like in the age of faith. For one thing children of serfs are easier to molest-seems to go along with priesthood of any kind. Unfortunately in many democratic oriented societies, many want to be uneducated peasants, less stress with taking responsiblity I guess.

Wed, 01 Aug 2012 00:38:40 UTC | #950344

raytoman's Avatar Comment 14 by raytoman

Leaders want power and control. Most people are illiterate, ignorant or intellectually lazy and are easily led and controlled.

It is more expensive to educate all of them and enable them to achieve their individual ambitions and lifestyle, within agreed community bounds. If you try this, teh hoi pilloi will be hijacked by more unscrupulous leaders.

What to do.

Political structures of many kinds have been tried again and again and many different ones currently exist in the hundreds of countries we have been divided into.

The current political structure which governs the world seems based around enabling the haves to continue as normal and the have nots to struggle with the hope that a few can become haves, eventually. The best ways of doing that currently seem to consist of forcing the have nots to compete ruthlesskly with each other to become haves - the case for individuals as well as cliques and countries.

The new technologies have enabled global communication and should be enabling better education and access to information for all. The haves seem incapable of trusting humanity to peacefully change over time, basically through education for all and a focus on the common and individual good with the emphasis on win-win solutions.

Most havel, politicians and religions hate this prospect and are manipulating events to enable continuation of their control.

I have neither the education nor the intellect to solve this problem. I can only identify symptoms and hope for solutions. I believe religion is the major barrier to change. I also believe that current political organisations are inadequate. How can you have an equitable system when it is populated by individuals who crave power (politicians) and appoint acolytes to run their bueracracies and businesses?

We need leaders who are humanist and of course, atheist. They canot exist at present with 6 billion religious humans who either vote or allow despots to retain total power over them.

Are teh ASrab Spring and Occupy Wall Street early indicatiors of other possible approaches, using technology to help people to wise up?

The last thing we need is WWIII.

I think we are (made love to).

Wed, 01 Aug 2012 01:33:39 UTC | #950348

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 15 by Cook@Tahiti

As standard of living declines, religiosity increases, and vice versa. It's one of those sociological inverse correlations.

Wed, 01 Aug 2012 12:28:29 UTC | #950355

maria melo's Avatar Comment 16 by maria melo

The Czar of Russia is created by God, to go against the Czar is to go against God.

More strong than what I am used from medieval ages, indeed Kings used to mention:

I, King X , by the grace of God....

(Dei Gratiae, Rex Portugaliae, Silbis & Algarbii).

Much more soft !...

A "graceful" way to revert things, I guess, would be to become the head of the church ?

Wed, 01 Aug 2012 13:03:49 UTC | #950357

maria melo's Avatar Comment 17 by maria melo

The OP seems to have been made already drop dead ?

Anyway, until the advent of the State (as we understand it in modern time) the King was the vicar of God, the church could excommunicate the king so that no one should be obliged to obey him, it was the way society was naturally organized, no one questioned it as it was considered a natural way of organization of society, and perhaps there were not so many confused people concerning political ideas.

But It can never return to the importance it had before, anyway, so that must be of a relative importance, the rise of religion in Russia ?

Wed, 01 Aug 2012 23:52:53 UTC | #950361

Roedy's Avatar Comment 18 by Roedy

People turn to religion when there is no logical hope. They make up imaginary hope.

It will probably go away if Russia got a leader who was interested in the economic well being of the people.

Thu, 02 Aug 2012 09:17:03 UTC | #950367

nick keighley's Avatar Comment 19 by nick keighley

Comment 10 by richard jr miles :

Unfortunately human evolution is not uniform throughout the world and suppressed or slow to evolve nations,

nations don't evolve in the biological sense. And if you are talking about cultural evolution you have tacked on an implicit assumption of "progress". A is "better" than B. And you get to define "better".

Is Italy more evolved than Nepal?

including those restricted by a dictator and or religion, are very vunerable to the false comfort that the hocus pocus placebo drug of religion provides for them.

Sat, 04 Aug 2012 09:54:33 UTC | #950398

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 20 by Schrodinger's Cat

In the days of the Soviet Union I knew that religion is "the opium of the masses". It was clear for everyone that only old people went to church.

But now I'm afraid the situation in my country has changed.

What ? You mean people no longer have the KBG show up in the middle of the night and drag you off to the endless Gulag camps in Siberia ?

Dreadful ! Bring back Communism. It's only killed 100 million people.

Sun, 05 Aug 2012 15:44:19 UTC | #950412

Odalrich's Avatar Comment 21 by Odalrich

Power has always been more comfortable with religion on its side. When Napoleon became First Consul of the Republic, after his coup, he restored all the property of the Church confiscated by the Revolution and said that a people with religion was much easier to rule, and if France were a Jewish country, he would rebuild the temple of Solomon. It is obvious that Putin is on the way to become an autocrat and the Church has always supported the autocrats that favour its interests. This has happened throughout History, it's happening today and, unfortunately, it's going to happen for quite a while.

Sun, 05 Aug 2012 18:11:10 UTC | #950413

Stephen of Wimbledon's Avatar Comment 22 by Stephen of Wimbledon

As someone who has lived in Russia, and who has Russian family, I sympathise.

The thing you have to remember is that any organised religion is a political organisation. First and foremost their objectives are all aligned to increasing the power of the priesthood - and the power of the religion's leaders in particular.

Before the revolution the Orthodox Church was the established church (meaning: it was an arm of the State). During the revolution the Orthodox Church found itself on the losing side - and paid the price.

However, the Communists (Stalin in particular, probably because he studied at an Orthodox seminary) realised that you cannot simply remove the opium of the people and expect them to give it up, cold turkey. The Communists tried various approaches - one solution was famously satirised by George Orwell in his book Animal Farm (banned by the Communists but probably available in Russia now, I recommend it). In Animal Farm Moses, the crow, like Moses in the Bible is there to lead the animals (the revolutionaries) to the promised land of Sugar-candy Mountain. Communism attempted to take on many aspects of religion and in the 1970's I bought an Atlas in which Marxism and Maoism were listed as religions.

You say that your friends (I assume schooled under communism?), are turning to the Orthodox Church. But Communism was at least partly religious.

The Communists were followers, probably unwittingly, of the religious structures that the great British philosopher David Hume so effectively critiqued:

... the greatest crimes have been found, in many instances, compatible with a superstitious piety and devotion.

For these reasons, if no other, the Communists slowly relaxed their grip on the Orthodox Church. Religion can be a distraction, a palliative (as another Commentator notes: a placebo). When the revolution had failed to deliver equality and the good life to the third post-revolution generation what better solution than an organisation that explains this as being due to forces beyond worldly control.

Although Russia's education system, under communism, had a superb reputation I was often surprised during my first visits to discover how superstitious modern Russians are. It is clear that, while religion was not taught in schools, neither was superstition challenged - just as Moses went unchallenged in Animal Farm.

In addition it has to be said that the old education system did not teach critical thinking in any form. The reasons for this are obvious and the consequences dire - I still sadly recall my ineffective efforts to stop Russian friends from investing in the pyramid scheme MMM. Many lost their life savings.

In Yeltsin's time the school system was given scant attention, I can rememebr reading newspaper stories about it while in Moscow. The predictable result is that standards have dropped. As it has been twenty years since I first visited Russia I can only imagine what condition the education system is in now. Since then, the weakened education system has had time to produce an entire generation of religion-ready Russians.

Yeltsin and Putin found themselves running a country with almost no political structures typical of the average democracy.

With the benefit of hindsight we can see that Putin's solution to this lack of political supporting structures was to put Yeltsin's reforms, at least partially, into reverse.

One move was to re-assert the power of the bureaucracy, as Putin moved to reassure them that old sins would be forgotten, their unelected power would remain unquestioned, and the fraternity of membership:

I am a Chekist.

There is no such thing as a former member of the KGB.

Another was to re-establish government control and censorship of the media, in his battle of wills with the Oligarchs.

I'm guessing that Putin did not immediately understand what the Orthodox Church could offer him, but he has learned that lesson now. The Orthodox Church was revitalised by Yeltsin - for the rather spurious reason that it was a part of the 'lost' Russian culture - so the priests were already in the Kremlin when Putin first came to power as Prime Minister. They have had plenty of time to work on him. Russia at that time lacked political parties with established bases among the normal citizens on the one hand, and had oligarchs pushing for more power and highlighting the shortcomings of the bureaucracy on the other hand - while the bureaucracy itself sat sulking in the middle. Meanwhile the new political class were trying to outdo each other in populist rhetoric, while actually achieving nothing concrete - with the result that they were nearly completely sidelined by Yeltsin's constitution.

Putin needed to find a way to ensure popular support if he was to become President. One way was to use his new-found power over the media to build what looks, dangerously, like a personality cult. The other was to use the Orthodox Pulpit. The reason that politicians in every country like priests, rabbis, shamen, imams or whatever is that they get to speak to their followers - without interruption - from a place of authority to an audience that is open to whatever propaganda they might hear while they are in a reflective frame of mind. Not forgetting, of course, that priests (etc.) are supposedly moral leaders.

Finally, throwing out the communists has not created a better Russia for many. The Orthodox Church is helping out by telling the poor that they will get theirs in the next life - and all those naughty people leading the high life now will get their comeuppance. It is the classic religious move - keeping the lower classes in their place, and happy about it.

The Orthodox Church supports the President - the President supports the Orthodox Church. Today, the Church has nearly returned to it's old position as the established church of Russia.

If the above sounds critical of Putin, then I need to add something; Putin is not a great leader, he has held the Russian political clock still - rather than let it advance and handle the full challenge of change. This is clearly beginning to frustrate many Russians, who have begun to protest. On the other hand, I do not believe Putin to be a bad man - he was always clear that his own goal was stability and he has achieved that. The problem with stability in politics, of course, is that what it actually translates to is supporting the status quo.

When Yeltsin handed over to Putin, as President, many changes had been made. In order to keep those things which he thought worked (because they delivered political results) Putin was forced to continue to make some changes. Re-establishing the Orthodox Church was probably sold to him as: Actually, only putting back some of the political stability that was taken out by the communists. The worst we can say about this is that Putin was a man of his time; seeking out a new way forward for Russia in a near political vacuum.

The Orthodox Church has another string to its bow: The old Orthodox Church was a central part of the old Russian Empire. Many of the people's in surrounding countries can be, and are, influenced by priests selected, trained, appointed, supported, promoted, administered and managed from Moscow. How many Russians could honestly say that, if they had been in Putin's place, they would have ignored the Orthodox Church's influence in this arena.

The ways to combat this mess are many. As Russians are learning, rather slowly: The only way to make politics work, is to work at politics - and that includes between elections.

I suggest you read Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince to understand what you need to aim for - a humanist approach to religion and the State.

Remember what we said at the beginning? The Orthodox Church is a political organisation, or it is nothing. You will have to work extra hard to unseat the church from Russian politics now that they have had 20 years of re-building; government favouritism (e.g. legal restrictions on other religions), government propaganda, 'cultural' funding for the re-building and decoration of church buildings, being friendly with nearly every politician, and so on ...

One very serious problem is Russian censorship. This is a 21st Century problem, not just a Russian problem - though it has to be said that Russia has a worse situation than most countries. But only Russians can turn the tide of censorship and propaganda in Russia. I suggest you start with the Фонда защиты гласности.

To his great credit, Medvedev has pointed out that the bureaucracy dominates the Media - and he has pushed for a more open political dialogue. But the Church is as one with the bureaucracy on this: Censorship is vital to give them the freedom to manoeuvre. The only way for any politicians to move this area forwards is for ordinary people to keep pushing. Get involved in the Pussy Riot.

The next most important problem is education. Are the Orthodox Church in Russian schools now? It is not enough (as discussed above) to have science taught - what must be included is rationalism and the scientific method: humility, facts, observation, thesis, testing. If science is only taught as a series of facts (e.g. learning the periodic table by rote) then children will not develop critical thinking. The development of critical thinking in the young is key. Resist the Church's influence in schools. If you have children, volunteer to work for the school in your own time and try to work out how best to influence its policies.

Join a political party. Attend the meetings, push for a progressive agenda.

Talk to your friends about their beliefs and superstitions. Do not make fun of them, but do question them - and always ask the hard questions. One of the great things about Russian culture is that you can ask a friend anything.

Finally; don't expect miracles. Putin has sometimes shown that even things he doesn't like can happen. He is no fool, and knows that Russia must at least evolve if it is not to have another Gorbachev / Yeltsin moment of upheaval. Push for the big change, embrace the small wins.

Good luck.

Sun, 05 Aug 2012 18:59:42 UTC | #950416

flyingsoul's Avatar Comment 23 by flyingsoul

hi steward.

First of all, are u russian? One of my good friend that lives in piter told me about the roots of this great empire. She told me that 80 years of comunism can't erase 1000 years of history. Russia was deeply religious before lenin and actually comunism simply took the place of religion. Actually it WAS the only religion. People always need to believe in something and that's the easiest way to control them. now that comunism have failed elites needs to go back to the roots of russia to have another strong belief to control population

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 13:05:20 UTC | #950422

Skywatcher_3025's Avatar Comment 24 by Skywatcher_3025

Since 988 Russia became a Christian country, then, those are false statements about the thousands of years of Russia's Christian history. According to some chronicles the "crossing of Russia" was violent. The Christianity ruled in the mental sphere of people till the Revolution of 1917, when the indoctrination has changed into a communistic. The certain influence of Christianity in the language, some layers of culture and for the period of the WWII must be remained till the break of the Soviet Union. Thus, I can suppose, that two types of ideologies existed together, in spite of the ruling one. I think, the actual rise of the religion, began already in the post-Soviet Russia. For now the official Church seems to disrupt the secular education and interrupt the free-thinking rights, introducing the compulsory school lessons, named The Basics of the Orthodox Culture.

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 22:11:23 UTC | #950468

Modesti's Avatar Comment 25 by Modesti

Poor our friend Steward. It seems to me that some of the comment shifted away from the essence of the problem. It is not necessary to talk about Russian history and Russians to the Russian, especially from people who did not live there (my apology to exceptions). It seems to me that what is troubling him is that he does not understand the psyche of people who "suddenly" decide to be religious, when just until yesterday they were not, (though they grew up in the same community). If it is a subject of selling once beliefs – why do they sell? What does religion offer and why it is accepted from the social and moral standpoint. I would like to hear Steward, after all these comments, ... in any case - good luck! :)

Tue, 07 Aug 2012 11:22:30 UTC | #950487

richard jr miles's Avatar Comment 26 by richard jr miles

Re comment 19 nick keighley If you deliberately want to miss the point I was succinctly making you would comment as you have. However, nations which is a way of describing different areas of the world where people live, They, the people, in those nations have evolved differently in all ways, including biologically and culturally, to people in other nations. As to whether Italy is more evolved than Nepal would need a discussion all of it's own.

Tue, 07 Aug 2012 13:04:32 UTC | #950492

raytoman's Avatar Comment 27 by raytoman

Comment 21 by Odalrich

Power has always been more comfortable with religion on its side.


Religion is a power and control mechanism, nothing more. You cannot seperate the two.

The latest religions are typically TV (and no doubt soon twitter, facebook, etc) based and a charismatic TV Evangalist can soon make billions for his backers. It's an even more certain way to become a billionaire than working in Wall Street and manipulating other peoples money and avoiding taxes (religion doesn't even have to avoid paying taxes), at least in America. I gather there is actually a list of TV Evangalical billionaires somewhere.

Wed, 08 Aug 2012 03:31:48 UTC | #950511

chunkimunki's Avatar Comment 28 by chunkimunki

Well, according to this: only 15% of Russia is religious. Amazing that 85% of the population are being dominated by a minority of swivel-eyed loons. Anyone can be a Pussy Riot, apparently. Time to get organised...

Wed, 08 Aug 2012 10:21:13 UTC | #950515

secularjew's Avatar Comment 29 by secularjew

STEWARD1, you asked an excellent question. As a former citizen of the Soviet Union, I too share your puzzlement and frustration at this increased religiosity.

But why assume that the public was ever atheist? They did not go to church or practice religion, but that wasn't because they understood why religion was false; it was because they had no other choice. If you actually understood that religion was superstitious nonsense, you did not suddenly become religious once religion was allowed. People are conformists, and when no religion is the norm, the people act accordingly (and contrary to what is often believed in the West, people can do just fine without religion) . Once communism fell and they were told that there was a God, they believed it. As to why people would believe in God in the first place, that's a more serious question.

Wed, 08 Aug 2012 18:24:56 UTC | #950520

secularjew's Avatar Comment 30 by secularjew

          Comment 28 by  chunkimunki     :

                 Well, according to this: only 15% of Russia is religious. Amazing that 85% of the population are being dominated by a minority of swivel-eyed loons. Anyone can be a Pussy Riot, apparently. Time to get organised...

I doubt those are the correct numbers. Here's a serious study on the changes in theism and atheism by comparing their levels around the world in 1998 and 2008.

Wed, 08 Aug 2012 18:38:59 UTC | #950521