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

Orthodoxy is the most common religion in Russia. Seventy-four percent call themselves Orthodox believers, while 7 percent say they are Muslims. Less than 1 percent profess other religions.

Orthodoxy is the most common religion in Russia. Seventy-four percent call themselves Orthodox believers, while 7 percent say they are Muslims. Less than 1 percent 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 percent, from 80 percent  in 2009, while the share of Muslims has grown by 3 to 7 percent in the same period.

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

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 percent attend baptisms, church weddings or burial services, and 11 percent attend church services or liturgies.

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

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

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