Does Russia Allow Christianity

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As one of the largest countries in the world, Russia is often perceived as a largely atheist population. But despite the dominance of atheism, many Russians identify as Christian and it is estimated that somewhere between 66 and 90 percent of Russians adhere to the Christian faith. With a long and complex history of state regulation, how much freedom does the Russian government actually provide those seeking to practice Christianity?

To get a better understanding of the situation, it’s important to consider Russia’s religious history. In the 19th century, the Russian government was hostile to religion, and this sentiment was even entrenched in the country’s constitution. But starting in 1917, the post-revolutionary government reversed course, becoming fairly accommodating toward religion. It wasn’t until the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s that an 18 year period of official tolerance of various religions began. As a result of this shift in policy, Christian denominations were able to thrive in Russia and the number of followers grew rapidly.

Today, the Russian state puts less emphasis on regulating religious activity than its predecessor regimes, making it much more difficult to determine how exactly its citizens are allowed to practice their faith. The government maintains an official registry of religious groups and forbids practices that it considers to be of a non-traditional nature, such as matters of spiritual healing and certain occult activities. But for the most part, the authorities are open to Christian believers and churches are free to preach their beliefs as long as they do so within the philosophy of traditional Christian values.

Despite this relative openness, Christian churches in Russia have been the targets of government repressive tactics at certain times. For example, in the late 2000s when thousands of Orthodox Christian believers gathered in an effort to block the construction of a highway, the authorities cracked down on them and forcibly removed them from their encampment. Similarly, in March 2021, police in Moscow raided a Christian center on the orders of local officials.

This shows that while religious freedom exists in Russia, it is not always respected by the authorities and Christians are not completely immune from government interference. Not surprisingly, this has affected the way some believers practice their faith, and has caused increased caution in more traditional denominations such as the Russian Orthodox Church and the Baptist Church. This has resulted in a situation where Christians often feel they have to tread a fine line between so-called ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ behavior – with the consequence of over-stepping the line being criminal prosecution or persecution.

As such, the overall outlook for Christian believers in Russia can be seen as a mixed one. While the government does generally allow citizens to practice their religion freely and churches are in operation, members of the Christian faith can still be subjected to repression if they challenge the government’s authority. This is a sign that the authorities are still apprehensive about religious expression, even if not to the same extent as in previous regimes.

Role of the Church

The Russian Orthodox Church is one of the main religious organizations in Russia. It is a powerful institution and has a great influence over Russian politics. Even with its ability to affect politics, the Patriarch of the Church argues that its role is to promote spiritual and moral values, rather than political ones. The Church often speaks out against laws that it believes are oppressive, such as laws against religious activities, the right to assemble, and the right to protest.

The Church is also active in promoting social and economic justice. In 2017, it launched a nationwide ‘Save the Poor’ campaign, in partnership with the Russian Orthodox Charity, which aimed to provide aid to orphanages and homeless shelters. The organization has also been vocal in its support for refugees and other vulnerable groups, and has taken a strong stance against government policies that it believes are oppressive.

The Church’s role in Russia is important not only for Christians, but for the country as a whole. Given its potential to affect politics and spur social change, the Church’s teachings and actions will have a lasting impact on the Russian government and its citizens.


Evangelism is another mainstay of the Christian faith in Russia. Many Christian denominations are very active in spreading the word of God and sharing the Christian faith with others. The Russian government generally doesn’t restrict evangelism as long as it follows established regulations. This is seen as a positive step, as evangelism has been a powerful tool in helping spread the Christian faith and promote its acceptance.

It is also important to note that evangelism is not limited to just the main Russian religions. Many Protestant and Catholic churches in Russia are also active in seeking out new members and spreading the word. This helps to demonstrate that Christianity is a viable religion for all Russian citizens, regardless of their political or ethnic background.

However, it is important for evangelists to remember that there are limits to their activities. The Russian government has shown that it is not afraid to crack down on activities it considers to be extremist or against the country’s laws and regulations. As such, it is important for evangelists to understand the laws and regulations in order to stay on the right side of the authorities.

Persecution & Discrimination

Discrimination and persecution based on religion also exist in Russia. Reports of police brutality against members of certain ethnic or religious groups are not uncommon. This has been especially problematic for members of minority Christian religions, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Pentecostals.

The Russian government has also adopted what have been deemed ‘anti-religious’ laws. For example, a 2009 law banned missionary activity, something that is seen as a clear attack on freedom of religion. Another law adopted in 2012 banned ‘evil cults’, which has been used to target religious groups that are seen as outliers to the mainstream.

There are also reports of discrimination in the workplace. This is especially true in government and military jobs, where Christian beliefs are often seen as a liability and a hindrance to career advancement. Additionally, some employers have been known to reject Christian applicants without providing a valid reason.

Freedom of Religion

Despite the challenges and discrimination that some Christian believers experience in Russia, overall freedom of religion is still greater than it has been in decades past. The Russian government has made it clear that it is open to Christian beliefs and is willing to tolerate a certain amount of religious expression. This is evidenced by the fact that new churches are being built and that there is still a large number of Christian organizations operating in the country.

That said, there is still work to be done in order to ensure that all Russian citizens have complete freedom of religion, regardless of their political or ethnic background. The government needs to make sure that its laws are applied evenly and protect the rights of all individuals, regardless of their religious beliefs. Additionally, more needs to be done to combat discrimination and persecution, and to ensure that all Christian organizations and individuals can practice their faith in a safe and secure environment.

Challenges Moving Forward

Despite the relative freedom that the Russian government now offers to Christian believers, it is clear that there are still numerous challenges facing the faith in the country. Chief among these is the need to ensure that the rights and freedoms of religious minorities are fully respected and that any persecution or discrimination is duly addressed.

In addition, there is a need to make sure that new churches are allowed to open and that Christian organizations can operate without any restrictions. It is also important for Christians to remain engaged in political and social issues, so that they can continue to have a positive influence on the country’s laws and policies. It is only then that Christians in Russia can truly feel confident that their faith is truly accepted and respected.

Relations with Other Religions

Christianity is not the only religion in Russia and there are a growing number of minority religious groups in the country. It is important for Christians to remain open-minded and accepting of other faiths, so as to ensure a peaceful and tolerant relationship between religious communities.

In particular, the Russian Orthodox Church has taken a leading role in promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding. This has been demonstrated in their efforts to organize interfaith gatherings, such as the Interreligious Forum for Peace held in 2019. Through such gatherings, the Church seeks to demonstrate that dialogue and cooperation between different religious communities can be beneficial for all.

It is also important for people of different religious backgrounds to build relationships outside of the formal setting, something that can be achieved through attending interfaith events and engaging in dialogues about common concerns. This is an important step in promoting understanding and acceptance between different religions, something that can only be positive for the Christian community in Russia.


Overall, Christianity is still an important part of Russian life and is generally tolerated by the state. While there are restrictions on religious activities and persecution and discrimination remain a problem, Christians in the country are able to go to church and practice their faith without fear of reprisal. Additionally, the Church has been instrumental in fostering dialogue and understanding between different religious groups.

That said, there is still work to be done in ensuring that Christian believers in Russia are able to practice their faith freely and without discrimination. It is up to the authorities and the Church to make sure that the rights of Christian believers are fully respected, and that new churches can be built and organizations can operate without any restrictions.

Jennifer Johnson is an experienced author with a deep passion for exploring the spiritual traditions of different cultures and religions. She has been writing about religion and spirituality for the past ten years in both print and digital platforms, engaging readers in meaningful dialogue about the soul's journey through this life. With degrees in Comparative Religion and English Literature, she brings an insightful perspective to her work that bridges the gap between traditional knowledge and modern theories. A lifelong traveler, Jenn has lived in multiple countries exploring various paths to understanding faith, and her dedication to learning new things is palpable in every piece she creates.

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