Russians to Christmas: Drop Dead!

The indispensable Paul Goble reports:

Fewer than two percent of Russian citizens attended Orthodox Christmas church celebrations this year, a number that calls into question not only the claims of the Moscow Patriarchate that Russian population is overwhelmingly Orthodox but also the special relationship it has with the state and the state’s spending to promote Orthodoxy.

As Svetlana Solodovnik noted in Yezhednevny Zhurnal, perhaps no other public organization has benefited as much from the tandem as the Russian Orthodox Church which has positioned itself as the moral arbiter of the majority and extracted both the return of property and enormous state subsidies.

Most of that state deference reflects the personal convictions of the leaders, especially Dmitry Medvedev and his wife, and their views about the role of Orthodoxy in the life of Russia past, present and future. But at least some of it reflects the acceptance by the secular authorities of the Patriarchate’s claims concerning the number of its followers. (That second factor seems to be particularly important now given the growing evidence of religious fervor of the country’s Muslims as reflected in the massive celebration of Islamic holidays not only in traditional Muslim areas but particularly in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other “traditionally” Russian cities.)

Because of the impact both of Soviet anti-religious policies in the past and of the forces of secularization then and now, far fewer people are believers and active practitioners of any religion than most religious leaders regularly claim. But no denomination in Russia has more consistently overstated both the number and share of its followers.

Orthodox hierarchs routinely say that 65 to 85 percent of Russian Federation residents are Orthodox Christians, a figure that reflects their counting as believers almost all those who are members of historically Orthodox nationalities such as the Russians. In brief, they count as believers all “ethnic Orthodox” even as they dismiss equivalent claims about “ethnic Muslims.”

Obviously, precision in this question is difficult to achieve. On the one hand, declarations of faith are very different than actual belief and practice in Russia as everywhere else. And on the other, the sources of information about such matters vary widely, with religious leaders claiming more and others reporting fewer faithful. But despite that, many in Russia attend to the numbers of people who take part in religious services especially on holidays as an important indicator. And this Christmas, which took place yesterday according to the Eastern calendar, the numbers of Russian Orthodox were both low and if anything smaller than in earlier years.

According to interior ministry sources, approximately 2.5 million people took part in the celebration of Orthodox Christmas this year, attending services in approximately 8500 churches. The attendees constitute fewer than two percent of the country’s population, and the number of Orthodox churches conducting Christmas services about two-thirds of all Orthodox churches.

In reporting these numbers, the Siberian news agency said that they once again “demonstrate the falsehoods of the demagogy of the Russian Orthodox church about the traditional Orthodox essence of the Russian people” and raise questions about state support for the Orthodox Church.
“It is curious,” the news service said, “that despite the strongest propaganda of Orthodoxy, including in the schools, the number of convinced believers over the last five years has not changed” and that the Patriarchate continues to “exaggerate the real figure by a factor of four to five.”

But it is not just in church attendance on a high holy day that the Russian Orthodox Church appears to be less widely supported than its leaders claim. This week, Archbishop Ioann of Belgorod, one of the most Orthodox places, released figures showing sharp declines in the number of practicing Orthodox there.  Not only have the number of divorces now risen to equal the number of marriages, but the share of people marrying in the church has fallen by two-thirds over the last several years, from 30 percent to only nine percent, the archbishop said, statistics that he acknowledged showed that the standing of Orthodoxy as a “fashion” among the population has changed.

But however that may be, the Russian state is pushing ahead with programs to push the cause of Russian Orthodoxy both at home and abroad. In the waning days of 2010, the country’s ministry of culture announced without much notice that it is spending “almost six million US dollars” on the popularization of Orthodoxy.

29 responses to “Russians to Christmas: Drop Dead!

  1. Compare with real Orthodox countries like Georgia, where the Churches were packed for midnight and morning Christmas mass on the 6th/7th.

  2. And ? What is the point, what is the topic about ?

    2 Andrew: What does it mean “real Ortodox” ? (without “bla-bla-bla”). Who’s else in your list besides of Georgia?

    • Lets see, Georgia, Greece, Ethiopia, Romania, the Churches of Antioch and the Jerusalem patriarchy, Bulgaria, the Orthodox Churches of Czech rep. and Slovakia, the Orthodox Church of Poland, Ukraine, Serbia, etc.

      In Russia only the old believers count, because they were and are violently opposed to the domination of the Church and its use as a bludgeon of the state.

      The Russian KGB “Church” is simply another mafia organisation.

      • and Roman “Vatican” is not a Mafia organization? hahahahahahahha
        the amount of blood and tears Catholicism is responsible for cannot be put together in all of Greek, Russian, Serbian, Georgian etc churches put together and multiplied by PI.

        on the second hand, anyone who believes in religion is a giant retard in the first place.

        • Actually atheism is responsible for the worst horrors of the 20th century, particularly the 144,000,000 deaths caused by communism (several times more than all the wars of the 20th C)

          BTW, I am Orthodox.

          Anyone who “believes” in atheism tends to be a fanatic, intolerant bigot.

          I respect other religions, be they other Christian denominations, Jewish, Hindu, Moslem, Buddhist, but I will never respect the cult of selfishness that is atheism.

          • You seem to be confusing atheism with communism.
            Atheism is just a conviction that there is no god of the kind described in major sacred books like the Bible or the Koran, period. It has nothing to do with either selfishness or selflessness or what not, it’s beyond morals.
            Communists simply incorporated atheism into their ideology, which, incidentally, wasn’t really selfish at all but rather espoused an extreme form of collectivism and it was their staunch belief in collectivism, in the welfare of many being more important than the welfare of any particular individual, that ultimately allowed them to justify horrendous crimes against humanity like the infamous famines in the Ukraine and in the regions along the Volga river in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
            From my own experience I can tell that there tend to be far fewer intolerant bigoted fanatics among atheists (many of whom are essentially agnostics rather than ‘believers in atheism’ as you put it) than among Christians.

  3. Christianity and Christian orthodoxy in particular were popular in Russia for a period of time in the 1990’s, but most people have since seen that churches are just another kind of business organisations that offer ‘spiritual services’ in return for fees.
    The reason why the number of church marriages has been dropping is the exorbitant prices Russian orthodox priests charge for these ceremonies and you still have to have your marriage registered with the civil authorities. Plus there’s plenty of evidence that having a church wedding doesn’t protect against divorce so why bother.
    Also in recent years there’s been a revival of paganism, especially in places like Pskov and Novgorod.

  4. Apparently all orthodox russian churches throughout russia are selling vodka, cigarettes, and alsow drugs to their flocs of believers…..

  5. Well, at first I hesitated to make further comment, as Paul Goble’s article says a lot, by itself, as he usually does. But, for all those long long years of official communist atheism, and after the mass murder of so many believers, and since the existence of the 1943 Stalin-created pseudo-‘Russian Church’ (called, the Moscow Patriarchate)….which any and all Russians could easily see as a state-controled corrupt FALSE-religion, ( which consistently serves the Party Line, without fail!), it is no wonder that many of them today, really do not have much respect or use, for such a corrupt ‘church’ as it is. In fact, among the younger generation of Russians, those who hunger for religious inspiration, they are more likely to join some foreign churches or religions, as they simply do not TRUST the official state-church. Also, there is a growing movement of dissident Russian Orthodox believers, who pray in homes and unofficial places of worship, who refuse to be a part of that corrupt and bogus state-church any longer. Those people are more and more persecuted, often by local Moscow Patriarchal clergy, instigating the local civil authorities to haul them into court, arrest them and/or to harass them, and to seize their places of worship, claiming them to be, ‘illegal sectarians’, just as in those good-ole-days of the official Soviet Union.
    That useless, ‘Russian Constitution’ is not worth the paper it is written on, to protect ANY, ‘rights’ of Russians, civil or religious or whatever.
    And so, it is really no surprise that so many average Russians today, cannot truly…respect…that state-controled political tool of the Kremlin, and especially not, for it’s crass materialism and corruptions, at all levels. That Moscow Patriarchy, is the false-church of the neo-soviet gang, who still rule and ruin Russia and rob it’s people blind. It serves the state, and not God. Thus, that ‘church’ is itself, profoundly immoral, and a theatrical stage set,
    filled with clerical actors, wearing the robes & props of Orthodox bishops and priests.
    And, what a joke, to imagine that such a corrupt organization as that, CAN actually reform the morals and the ethics…of the Russian people, who have been demoralized by all those many many years, of athiestic communism!
    Yet, such is the supposed official aim, of the Putin regime, in it’s promotion of that ‘church’.
    Something stinks in Russia, and it is this false church, this communist front, this immoral, Moscow Patriarchy., which cannot even reform itself, let alone all of Russian society.
    Evenso, some other Russians DID celebrate the Nativity of Christ, besides those attending the Moscow Patriarchy’s churches, if in private places and in barns and in the forests. And those, were not counted, in this official count.
    Christ Is Born! Glorify Him!

  6. The best Christmas were in highly-Christian kingdom of Kadyrovland anyway:

    Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, not generally know for his rationality, has recently displayed increasingly erratic behavior, reportedly shipping 100 dump trucks of snow to Grozny for children to play in on New Year’s Eve.

    The snow, unfortunately, began to melt immediately after being scattered around the “holiday tree,” and could not be blown out of the snow cannon because the temperature was above freezing — 7 degrees Celsius, or about 45 degrees Fahrenheit. It was imported from the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic at a cost of $640,000, according to reports from Grozny’s mayor’s office, after Kadyrov declared “it wouldn’t be New Year’s without snow.”

    Shortly before the end of December he also decried the lip-synching of Chechen pop singers, calling it “deception.” He added that singing about romance and relationships instead of love of one’s country — or animals — went against “the bounds of decency.”

    One might argue that a 2006 wedding Kadyrov attended in Daghestan, a diplomat’s synopsis of which was recently made public by WikiLeaks, was slightly more “indecent” than Chechen pop songs.

    Although Kadyrov only made a guest appearance at the outrageous wedding, in which the son of Daghestan Oil Company chief Gadzhi Makhachev was married, he certainly made an impression on the American diplomat in attendance.

    “At 8:00 p.m. the compound was invaded by dozens of heavily armed mujahedin for the grand entrance of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, looking shorter and less muscular than in his photos, and with a somewhat cock-eyed expression on his face,” the dispatch read.

    A fireworks display to honor Kadyrov’s late father ensued, followed by five children dancing the traditional “lezginka.” Kadyrov joined the children, dancing “clumsily” and “with his gold-plated automatic stuck down the back of his jeans.”

    “Both Gadzhi and Ramzan showered the dancing children with hundred dollar bills; the dancers probably picked upwards of USD 5000 off the cobblestones,” the dispatch said.

    Kadyrov left shortly afterward — missing out on the “disjointed fragments of the carcass” of sheep and cows the diplomat surmised were being boiled day and night somewhere in the mansion, as well as the rest of the “stupendous” alcohol consumption at the Muslim wedding.

    • The rest of the Christmas in Kadyrovland was the usual stuff, that is the continuing peace in the most peaceful part of Russia in the peacetime, including:

      “There were reports that he [Umarov], along with a group of militants, was hit by an airstrike two weeks ago. Currently, several special force units are combing woodland in a remote Chechen region… The reports were not confirmed up to the moment,” the source said.

  7. Real clash of civilizations is between Orthodoxy and entire Christian West

    Yesterday at 18:48 | Paul Goble

    Islam is closer to Russian Orthodoxy than are either Catholicism or Protestantism, an expansion of Vladimir Putin’s observation about Orthodoxy and Catholicism last year and an indication that for many in Moscow, the real clash of civilizations is not between Christianity and Islam but rather between Orthodoxy and Western Christendom.

    In a comment to “Russkaya narodnaya liniya” yesterday, Archpriest Igor Dronov, the secretary of the Bishkek eparchate administration of the Russian Orthodox Church, says that those who made fun of Putin’s observation are wrong, that the prime minister’s words correspond to reality, and that they can be extended to include Protestantism as well.

    Dronov’s observation comes in the course of his survey of Orthodox developments in Kyrgyzstan during 2010. He notes that in that country, “there still live not a few Russian people, although gradually we are being called a diaspora,” despite our “memory that Russia and Kyrgyzia were a single country, a single empire.”

    Read more:

    • Interesting comment from the above link:

      Putin is quite accurate in his assessment. One must consider the Muscovite Empire as the successor state of Genghis Khan’s Mongol Empire. Moskva’s religion at that time became a blend of Orthodoxy and Islam. Khan Uzbek’s headgear is misidentified as “shapka Monomakha”, and contains Islamic symbols. Putin/Medvedev’s current policy toward Ukraine is a replay of the battle of Dec. 6, 1240. The successors of the horde are recovering the lands and the capital of Rus’ that they had conquered.

  8. A Dress Code For Russians? Priest Chides Skimpiness


    Published: January 18, 2011

    MOSCOW — A top official for the Russian Orthodox Church on Tuesday proposed creating an “all-Russian dress code,” lashing out at women who leave the house “painted like a clown” and “confuse the street with striptease.”

    Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin has angered women’s groups recently with his comments about female modesty. At a December round table on interethnic relations, he said a woman wearing a miniskirt “can provoke not only a man from the Caucasus,” the predominately Muslim region on Russia’s southern border, “but a Russian man as well.”

    “If she is drunk on top of that, she will provoke him even more,” he said. “If she is actively inviting contact, and then is surprised that this contact ends with a rape, she is all the more at fault.”

  9. S PRASNECUM! with Bogoyavleniyeh (Theophany)-
    Today, all Orthodox on the traditional church, ‘Julian’ calendar, celebrate Christ’s Baptism in the river Jordan.
    Today, all waters are blessed, including rivers, even if the ice must be first cut open.
    So, festal greetings to all, on this great feast.
    Rd. Daniel in USA

    • Dear Psalomschick,

      The priest just came and blessed my house – continuing ancient Ukrainian traditions.



      • Ancient Ukranian traditions such as these by any chance?

        loool @ Heil Hitler.

        wonder what La Russophobe, as an obvious Jew, thinks about this image.

        • Actually, I think LR is more worried about overt neo-nazi behavior in today’s Russia.

          Neo-Nazis on the March in Moscow
          ‘We Russians Are Part of the White Race’

          By Simone Schlindwein in Moscow

          Thousands of Russian neo-Nazis marched through Moscow on National Unity Day this weekend, joined by pensioners, students and families. Experts believe Russia’s far right gives President Vladimir Putin a welcome justification for his authoritarian political style.

          Russian skinheads, hooligans, nationalists, fascists and racists gathered on Moscow’s Kutosovsky Prospect to mark National Unity Day on Sunday. They waved flags as they marched in single file along the banks of the Moskva River and to the Ukraina Hotel, across from the White House, the seat of Russia’s government.

          “Russia for Russians!” the demonstrators shouted in unison, followed by slogans such as “For a Slavic, Russian nation!” or “Slavic, Russian, Powerful!” The demonstrators stretched out their arms in the Hitler salute between slogans. Their loud shouts of “Slavic Russia!” were followed by the sound of drum rolls.

          “We are opposed to the immigration of Caucasians and Asians to Russia. Our people must remain pure. Russia belongs to us,” 32-year-old Andrey Bukov explains. The trained media expert says he has been “serving” in the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) for four years. He waves its white, yellow and black flag, which features a symbol resembling a swastika.

          Nineteen-year-old Sergei carries the red flag of his group — the “Slavic Union” — tied around his shoulders. “We Russians are part of the white race,” he says. “The blacks — the Caucasians, the Chechens, the Dagestani — should stay away,” says the Muscovite, a student at the Finance Academy.

          Check out the photo-gallery to this article, lots of Russians doing the heil salute….


          • This little girl is doing it wrong. I guess her grandpa who’s holding her right hand while they’re chanting got Alzheimer’s.

            @Elderly women handing out badly photocopied flyers, young female students wearing make-up and high-heeled boots, and parents with small children in colorful snowsuits can all be seen next to skinheads wearing black leather coats, combat boots, SS uniforms or bomber jackets and displaying swastikas.

            “National Unity Day” indeed.

            • wow. what a bunch of clowns you are.

              from the same link above:


              Preston Wiginton, a white supremacist from Texas, was in Moscow for the march, telling the crowd “Glory to Russia,” who chanted “white power” back to him in English.

              NEWSFLASH: there are racists everywhere. lool @ insinuating that a crowd of these sorry scumbags speak for whole of Russia.
              there are just as many KKK members and white supremacy gangs in the United States.

              you sorry clowns.

              • Wrong as usual.

                Russia has more neo-nazi scum than the rest of the world put together.

                In addition they are pretty much sanctioned by the Russian government, compare the OMON tolerance of their parades when compared to the way the OMON crush anything remotely resembling an opposition demonstration.

                • you’re extremely paranoid and i suggest therapy.

                  do you have any official numbers to confirm that russia has more than the entire world combined? LOL
                  in reality, USA alone has just as many racists/white supremacists as Russia. leave both coastlines and drive inland, and you’ll have miles and miles of southern states where people are not exactly tolerant towards non-whites, where the word nigger and ‘dirty beaner’ is normal and where racist rallies are common.

                  and please don’t use the word nazis. it’s white supremacists. aka racists.

                  the United States, and my own Australia has heaps of racists. The entire outback here is intolerant towards anyone who isn’t white. While they don’t kill them, as they do in Russia (but that’s generally because Russians are insane & fearless and aren’t afraid of death or imprisonment) there are still HUGE amounts of racist people. I encounter them every day.

                  so stop talking complete and utter paranoid nonsense.

        • I mean, obviously if you are an Aussie you are not to bright even by the standards of Australia, but try reading this article:

          January 19 Committee: Neo-Nazi Terrorism in Russia Today
          The January 19 Committee calls on everyone who cares to distribute this text as widely as possible.

          Nazi terrorism. This is exactly how we should call the problem facing our society today, a problem no less acute than the fundamentalist terrorist underground in the North Caucasus. For many people, ultra-rightist terrorism is a relatively unfamiliar, new and to a great extent incomprehensible phenomenon. That is why bureaucrats, politicians, the media, the siloviki, and the expert community in the majority of instances prefer to ignore the real problem, presenting it instead as a series of isolated, unrelated excesses.

          Telling in this respect is the bombing of the Nevsky Express train late last year. The Nazi group Combat 18 Nevograd first claimed responsibility for this terrorist act, followed a few days later by Dokku Umarov’s guerrillas. The media immediately began discussing the likelihood of neo-Nazi involvement. Many journalists, members of the security services, “experts,” and politicians demonstrated their total lack of command of the situation. A stereotype still exists in our society: contemporary Nazis are embittered teenagers in heavy boots who gather in mobs to beat up people who they think look the “wrong way.” “Of course they can kill someone in a pack, but terrorism is a serious matter”. Following the politicians on the right end of the spectrum, many are inclined to go even further: “Those guys are not Nazis at all, they’re nationalists. Sure, they sometimes do stupid things, but in their hearts they’re patriots. You shouldn’t defame them.” As it turns out, such notions, very much in the spirit of the 90s, are still extant amongst the populace. For the majority of average citizens, Nazis in Russia are a bit of disgraceful exotica.

          For those who monitor the situation attentively, however, it is obvious that over the past few years the neo-Nazis have made the qualitative shift from street violence to the tactics of terrorist groups supported by a well-developed infrastructure of extreme rightists. It suffices to analyze ultra-rightist Internet resources and the statistics of nearly daily crimes to understand the scale and nature of the problem.

  10. Thank you Les,
    Yes, and a reminder to all: The Orthodox Christian FAITH, is not the same as the organization/hierarchy of the religion. Thus, whatever is wrong with the captive ‘Moscow Patriarchy’, ( which has put KGB agents in the role of it’s ‘bishops’), or indeed, of any local Orthodox church of whatever nationality, does not negate the faith of individual believers, what is in our hearts. The essence or the SOUL of the religion, and the earthly structure of the churchly organization, have always been separate realities. Especially this has been true, under communism, and now in the neo-soviet reality of Russia. That divide between the faith and the organization, has remained a major reason that the Orthodox Faith has not perished, over the long centuries, though those various earthly governments, have.
    Putin and his atheist gang, will also perish, as have all the other past earthly tyrants.
    History is against them.
    Happy Theophany!

  11. “Yuletide in Moscow”:
    Photo of the congregation at the Nativity Service at the (‘dissident’ Russian Orthodox parish of the ‘Russian Orthodox Church Abroad’) in honour of the communist-martyred saint, Holy New Martyr Joseph of Petrograd, with priest Fr. Valery Leonichev).
    This Nativity worship and it’s participants, NOT belonging to the KGB enslaved/corrupt MP-state-church, were examples of the many such Orthodox Christian people, throughout Russia, who celebrated Christmas, but who were not ‘counted’.
    More and more believing Orthodox Russians, are turning their backs, in disgust, on the enslaved false, Moscow Patriarchy, where they have an alternative, both clergy and laity. under date: “19/01/1911” PHOTO-

  12. Interesting cmment from another site:

    When Kyiv Ptrirchate was proclaimed, Filaret ordered a purge of the UOC of all homosexuals… and a few were removed. But most of their numbers defected to UOC – MP because Vladimir offered them protection and asylum. They are powerful in the Pechersk Lavra, and very close to Vladimir and Kirill.

    Occasionally a homosexual still defects to Moscow Church, but growing numbers of decent non homosexuals now seek refuge in the Kyiv Patriarchate because they see the dominance of homosexuals in Kirills church. This was encouraged by Vladimir for political reasons but is well known throughout Kyiv.

    Read more:

  13. Timmie Whitebeard

    Thank you for exposing the lies and distortions spread by the false Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of the “Russian Orthodox Church”, and the cronies around him. He is said to be a monk but one with a secret wife and a huge personal fortune – my word, the lady must like the high life.

    Whenever Gundyaev celebrates the Divine Liturgy, he is no more than a clown in brocade robes. But God is not mocked.

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