History. Russians practiced Slavic religion before to the eleventh century. According to the Primary Chronicle, Vladimir the Great established Orthodox Christianity the national religion of Kievan Rus in 987, choosing it over other available options since it was the religion of the Byzantine Empire. The conversion of Kievan Rus' to Eastern Orthodoxy was a landmark event in the history of Europe.
Modern Russia is considered by many to be the last stronghold of Orthodox Christianity in Europe and eastern Europe. Russian Orthodox Christians account for almost 90% of all Orthodox Christians in the country.
The first Russian Orthodox Church was built in Moscow by Boris the Great in 988. Since then, hundreds of churches have been constructed throughout the country. In present times, there are about 800 churches built each year on average, most of them being converted buildings. There are also several thousand monasteries and temples across Russia.
Christianity has had a significant impact on the culture of Russia. The New Testament plays an important role in the education of children within the Russian Orthodox Church. Its teachings are included in every school grade book. During Holy Week, people travel to local cemeteries to commemorate their loved ones. This is when families show their love and devotion towards each other by visiting the graves of their dead relatives.
Russia has a long tradition of having numerous religions within its borders at one time or another.
The Russian Orthodox church was the country's main religious organization for over 1,000 years when Prince Vladimir I, who was converted by missionaries from Byzantium, established Christianity as the official religion of Russia in the 10th century. During that time, many other religions were also widely practiced in Russia, including Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Russian Buddhism, and Judaism.
Russia became a secular state in 1649 with the Edict of Emancipation which freed all people from religious oppression. Religious freedom lasted until 1812 when Napoleon forced the Russians to reopen churches and assign them priests. After his defeat, Nicholas I abolished religious freedom altogether and established the Russian Orthodox Church as the only permitted religion. This system remained in place until 1917 when the Russian monarchy was overthrown during the Russian Revolution.
After the revolution, Russia was divided into autonomous republics and nations. In 1918, the Soviet government created the Russian Orthodox Church along with other old institutions like the nobility to keep them off-balance and away from revolutionary ideas. The new church leaders were seen as allies by the communists and they were given important positions within the hierarchy. However, they had no real power and could be removed at any time if deemed necessary by Lenin or Stalin.
In 1933, Stalin ordered the execution of all bishops of the old Russian Orthodox Church.
Russia's predominant religion is Orthodox Christianity. It is the confession of practically all Slavic peoples and nations who live on Russian Federation territory, as well as some of the vast non-Slavic ethnic groups like as the Chuvash, Komi, Georgians, Ossetians, Armenians, Mordovians, and others. Although Orthodox Christians constitute approximately 80 percent of the population, other religions are widely accepted.
Other religious groups include Protestants (especially Evangelicals), Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Baha'is, Hindus, Buddhists, and others. According to some sources, there are about 10 million people in Russia who identify themselves as non-religious.
According to another source, up to 100 million people worldwide may believe that Jesus Christ will return to Earth one day. This estimate is based on a survey conducted by John Barna Group among Americans aged 16 and older. The study found that 20% of adults in the United States claim to be Christian but only 7% say they are Catholic. Another 3% describe themselves as Jewish but only 1% say they are Orthodox.
The number of Russians who say they have no religion rose from 19% in 2001 to 24% in 2011. Other studies put the proportion of religiously unaffiliated people at 31%.
Despite the fact that freedom of religion is guaranteed by law, most Orthodox Christians in Russia remain loyal to the church hierarchy and follow traditional practices without questioning them too much.