While most Evangelicals think different standards should apply (e.g., the number who claim to have accepted Christ as Savior or acknowledge that Christ died on the cross for their sins), these criteria use evangelical Christian markers that would be inappropriate to apply when attempting to discern who is a nominal or devout Russian Orthodox Christian. We probably need to ask committed Orthodox outside the hierarchy, "What criteria do you suggest for identifying committed or even nominal Orthodox Christians in Russia?," and then see what the numbers reveal.
Russian-American Christian University
[Barrett's] figures are all too slippery. My impression when I visit the typical provincial town in Russia is that perhaps one percent of the populace are in churches of all kinds combined--Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox--on a typical Sunday. A couple of years back the Moscow city police did an estimate of the numbers attending Orthodox Easter services: their figure was about 100,000, which of course is pathetically small in a city of ten million. As Philip Walters observed recently, we should not get carried away by the dramatic increases in the number of denominations and congregations legally functioning in Russia. A city can have scores of new religious entities but still be a place in which only one percent of the populace actually attend worship services every week. Like it or not, today's Russia looks a lot more like Sweden than the American Bible Belt. It is a profoundly secularized society.
Director, Keston Institute
Barrett's estimates look wildly optimistic to me. His one [estimate] for Orthodox in Russia must be about 50 percent or so. The official police figure for Easter service attendance in 2000 (including those standing around church buildings) in Moscow was just over 125,000. Even if you allow this figure some leeway, it is still hard to turn it into even a double-figure percentage, and this for the most important Orthodox festival of the year.
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© 2001 East-West Church and Ministry Report