Saturday, August 28, 2021

Russians’ Religious Beliefs a Pastiche of Ideas from Various Faiths, Chenovetsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 27 – Russians are usually described and describe themselves as Orthodox Christians, but their actual beliefs, Vadim Chernovetsky says, are often very much at odds with Orthodox doctrine and in fact are much closer to the views of Jews, Buddhists and spiritualists

            In a Nezavisimaya gazeta commentary, the Russian writer says that numerous surveys show that 79 percent of Russians have been baptized but at the same time that only about two percent go to church at least once a week, raising the question of just how religious they are (

            According to various surveys, a majority of Russians believe in God, one in seven doesn’t believe in his existence, six percent vacillate on this point, and “one percent follow Buddhism, a religion without a god,” Chernovetsky says.

            Only 38 percent of Russians consider Jesus Christ the son of God, while 26 percent consider him only a prophet, the position of Judaism. Thirty-one percent of Russians say Jesus never existed, and 52 percent do not believe he came back from the dead, although 32 percent do, the literary scholar continues.

            One recent Internet survey found 62 percent of Russians believe in the immortality of the soul, while 19 percent do not. Moreover, there is a consensus among Russians that “religiosity does not make an individual better or west, more moral or less so.” Forty-seven percent believe those who suffered clinical death saw the next life, but a sizeable minority does not.

            And many Russians believe in fortune tellers and their predictions about the future as well. Moreover, he continues, “the majority of Russians – 57 percent – believe in both the transmigration of souls and in a way life,” a position characteristic of Buddhism but in no way of Christianity.”

            “My position” on all this, Chernovetsky says, “is simple. If faith (in God, the immortality of the soul or mysticism, whatever) makes you better, then believe. If, on the other hand, atheism (materialism, rationalism or deference to science) makes you better, then be an atheist.” That is because “religiosity and morality are in no way connected.

            What we are seeing, he concludes, in Russians and quite likely among others when it comes to religion is “globalization in action!”  

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