Number of Orthodox Church members shrinking in Russia, Islam on the rise – poll

Russian Mosque File Photo

MOSCOW. Dec 17 (Interfax) – Orthodoxy is the most common religion in Russia. Seventy-four percent call themselves Orthodox believers, while 7% say they are Muslims. Less than 1% profess other religions (Catholics, Protestants, Jews and others), the Yuri Levada analytical center told Interfax on Monday.

The center polled 1,600 people in 130 towns and cities in 45 regions in late November.

The share of Orthodox believers in the country has dropped by 6%, from 80% in 2009, while the share of Muslims has grown by 3% to 7% in the same period.

The number of people who do not designate themselves as either religion is up from 8% to 10%. The number of atheists is down from 6% to 5%.

Seventy-six percent of Russians who describe themselves as Orthodox believers are church-goers. Thirty-three percent of them go to church to light a candle and pray; 29% attend baptisms, church weddings or burial services, and 11% attend church services or liturgies.

Twenty-nine percent go to church whenever they wish, 8% have been to a cathedral on an excursion, and 7% go to church to make a confession and take communion.

The total exceeds 100% because the respondents were free to choose more than one answer.

Sixty-one percent of the respondents said they had never opened the Bible. Of those who did, 24% read the Gospel, 16% read the Old Testament and 11% read the New Testament.