Sunday, October 29, 2017

Moscow University Students United Against Gay Marriage But Divided by Faith on Other Issues, New Study Finds

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 29 – A survey of Moscow university students found that they overwhelmingly oppose gas marriage, do not believe that chastity before marriage is important, and do not plan to have large families, although there are important differences between believers and non-believers and between Orthodox Christians and Muslims.

            The results of the study (D. Tikhomirov, “Sexual Morality of Moscow Students: The Religious Aspect” [in Russian], Znaniye. Ponimaniye.Umeniye, 2 (1917)) have now been summarized on the Tolkovatel portal atполовая-мораль-московских-студентов/).

            Tikhomirov surveyed 605 students in Moscow higher educational institutions last year. Sixty-four percent of them were women and 36 percent men, roughly the share of the two genders on average in such institutions.  Both those who identified themselves as believers and those who did not were asked the same set of questions.

            More than half (56 percent) consider themselves religious and other 24 percent say they believe in a higher power. But very few regularly attend services, although Muslims do so more regularly than Orthodox.  Only 15 percent say they are non-believers, while five percent say they have not yet made up their minds.

            Among religious students, 79 percent identified as Orthodox, 12 percent as Muslims, five percent as Armenian Christians, and three percent as Buddhists. According to the study, “the most clearly expressed religiosity was among Muslims; the least was among Orthodox Christians.”

            A majority of all students in each faith community say that creating a family is “a most important life goal,” but “more than half” overall don’t think having a lot of children is. But there are important variations among faiths: 51 percent of Muslims say having a lot of children is important, while only 36 percent of Muslims and 14 percent of the irreligious have that view.

            The study found that Russian students overall have become more liberal in their views on pre-marital sex, with the number considering it impermissible having fallen from 41 percent in 1992 to 21 percent in 2015. But there are important religious divisions: 72 percent of Muslim students say pre-marital chastity is important, while only 36 percent of Orthodox and far lower percentages of non-believers do.

            The Moscow students are also more tolerant to divorce, a reflection of the fact that today more than half of all marriages are dissolved in that way.  Only 11 percent of the students say that divorce is impermissible, although again there are religious differences. Sixty-five percent of Muslim students say divorce is not allowed, while only 33 percent of non-believers feel that way.

            But there is one area where Russian students have not become more liberal but rather more conservative: homosexuality.  That pattern reflects a change in Russian society as a whole: In 1991, 71 percent of Russians did not accept the rights of homosexuals; last year, that figure had risen to 81 percent.

            Three quarters of Russian students say that single-sex marriages should not be allowed, with only 15 percent opposing that view.  On this issue, unlike in many others, the views of Muslim and Orthodox students “practically coincides.”  The only group adopting a more tolerant position is that of the non-relievers. 

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