With increased repression of religious freedom in Russia, an understanding of underlying cultural and religious attitudes is essential in effecting change.
The Pew study, conducted from June 2015 to July 2016, sheds light on the cultural and religious values of Russian citizens:
- Seven in 10 Russian adults call themselves Orthodox Christian today, compared to 37 percent in 1991.
- Few self-identified Orthodox Christians actually pray or participate regularly in other religious activities.
- Nearly half of Russian adults say the government should prioritize the Russian Orthodox Church in religious policies.
- Forty-eight percent of Russians say the national church should receive financial support from the government.
- Yet six in 10 adult citizens (58 percent) say it is better if society consists of people from different nationalities, religions and cultures, compared to 34 percent who prefer a much less diverse society.
- Many people in Orthodox-majority countries say Russia has an obligation to protect Orthodox Christianity and to oppose unnecessary interference in their region from Western governments.
- Many Orthodox Christians—and not only Russian Orthodox Christians—express pro-Russia views and some observe a conflict between Russian and Western values.
In its recommendations for safeguarding religious freedom in Russia, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommends action supported by the survey results: Increasing funding of American and European media broadcasts in Russia to increase awareness and understanding of minority groups, and urging a stronger relationships between American diplomats and human rights activists, who work on behalf of smaller faith groups.