Survey suggests that although more Russians identify with religious groups, they may not be much more religiously observant.
After the Soviet Union was removed, Russians were thrilled to take part in everything that the Soviets were against, including religion. However, once the shiny newness had worn off, Russians began to discover it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, according to a survey posted by VTSIOM. You can read the full results of the survey here (in Russian). The survey encompassed 1,600 Russians across 46 regions in July and according to the data, there was a 3.5% margin of error. The results demonstrated a change in Russian views on religion.
The first survey was given in 1990 with a follow up completed in 2014. Back in 1990, the results were higher, potentially because it was newer and there wasn’t as much consumerism in the world. 61% of Russians felt that the increasing power of religious beliefs improved society, 41% felt it personally benefited them, 5% felt it was harmful to society and 3% felt it was personally harmful to them. In addition, 9% said they would attempt to stop a building from opening near their home if it wasn’t the religion or faith that they were affiliated with and 5% said faith helped them in daily life ‘constantly’.
In 2014, 36% felt that the rise in religious power improved society, 33% said it benefited them personally, 23% said it was harmful to society, 18% said it harmed them personally, 20% said they would attempt to stop a building from opening near home if it wasn’t the faith they were affiliated with and 26% said that faith helped them in daily life ‘constantly’.
According to the Russian Public Opinion Research Center’s communications director, Alexei Firsov, the idea of “church” and “faith” is detached for Russians, and when Church is brought up, it is considered an institution, garnering it public criticism for several reasons. According to other research, such as the International Social Survey Program that Pew summarized in 2008, roughly 1 in 10 Russians attend religious services once a month. Regular attendance, which is twice a month or more, was 2% in 1991, 9% in 1998 and 7% in 2008. Pew said that this “suggests that although many more Russians now freely identify with…religious groups, they may not be much more religiously observant than they were in the recent past”. In 2011, 82% of Russians said they were “religious believers” while 50% were members of the Russian Orthodox Church, according to The Christian Science Monitor.