05/05/2011, 00.00
RUSSIA
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In Russia, 82 per cent of the people believe in God

Russia is one of the most religious people in Europe. One Russian in two is Orthodox; 4 per cent are Muslim. Few are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or Buddhist.
Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The overwhelming majority of Russians (82 per cent) believe in God, this according to a survey by the Public Opinion Foundation and the Wednesday sociological service, which includes employees of the former sociological service of the synodal Department for Affairs of Youth. This makes Russia one of the most religious nations in Europe. The study was conducted with 1,500 respondents, 18 years of age or older, in 44 regions of the country.

This is astonishing. A country where atheism was taught for generations and which exported it around the world, only 13 per cent said they did not believe in God. The remaining 5 per cent said they had difficulty answering.

Twice as many men as women are atheists (68 vs 32 per cent). Nonbelievers were strong among workers and the poorest respondents ("I do not even have money for food").

Among believers, 27 per cent do not belong to any organised religion, a proportion that rises to 34 per cent for the 18 to 24 group and 38 per cent for students.

Four per cent of respondents said they were Muslim. Few are Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant or Jewish. Half of all believers said they were Russian Orthodox.

Women constitute 62 per cent of the Orthodox group against 38 per cent for men. Forty per cent lived in cities of 250,000 or more.

However, many respondents see Orthodoxy as part of their Russian identity. Only 3 per cent go to church each week (see “Ortodossia russa: identità etnica o religiosa?” in AsiaNews, 2009 3 July 2009).

Compared to another survey released by Interfax-Religiia, Wednesday’s results indicate that Russia is one of the least atheistic nations in Europe. In Switzerland, atheists represent 37 per cent of the population; in Germany, they are 31 per cent; in great Britain, they are 34 per cent, and in Belgium, 36 per cent.

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