Poll reveals big drop in number of Russians who claim to be Orthodox Christians as Islam becomes more popular with country’s youth

The number of atheists in Russia has doubled from 7% to 14% in just four years, with less than half of those under the age of 25 declaring themselves to be Orthodox Christian, compared to 66% for the population as a whole.

That’s according to a new poll from WCIOM, which revealed that faith in a Christian God is dropping with each generation.

On the contrary, Islam has held steady, remaining at around 6% of the entire population. Unlike Christianity, the popularity of the Muslim faith is far more prevalent in the young than the old, with under 25s having double (12%) the proportion of believers compared the country as a whole.

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During the Soviet era, religion was officially banned, and church property was seized by the state. In the following decades, Orthodox Christianity rose in popularity, with the Russian Academy of Sciences estimating in 2013 that 79% of Russians were believers. However, in recent years, polling has shown a decline in the number of religious citizens.

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According to the study, in 2017, 7% of Russians called themselves atheists. This has now risen to 14%. This has come at the expense of Orthodox Christianity, with the 2017 figure of 75% dropping to 66%. Islam has held steady at 6%.

Other recorded religions included Buddhism (1%) and Protestantism (1%), with Catholicism receiving 0%.

Interestingly, the age ranges most likely to consider themselves atheists are 18-24, 25-35, and 60+. The figure for the oldest group may reflect a generation growing up before the fall of the Soviet Union, where state atheism was an official policy.

Last summer, Russian citizens voted in favor of a packet of amendments to the country’s constitution. One of the most controversial additions was to explicitly mention faith in God as a core belief of the country.

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