[ Ed. note – One very important question Americans should ask themselves when trying to assess relations between the US and Russia, and to figure out why certain things are the way they are, is…of the two countries, Russia and America, which currently is moving toward a greater embrace of religious faith? And which is experiencing a lessening of spirituality and moving away from religious beliefs?
The answer, of course, is that the number of those in America who hold religious beliefs, most especially Christians, is dropping. This was the finding in a Pew Research poll released last year. The poll found that between 2007 and 2014, the number of Americans identifying as Christians declined from 78.4% to 70.6%. That’s still a pretty high portion of the population, but it does make for a 7.8% drop.
Over the same time period, those identifying as either atheist, agnostic, or no religion in particular rose from 16.1% to 22.8%–making for 6.7% rise. Interestingly, the number of Jews rose as well, but only slightly, from 1.7% of the population to 1.9%. It would appear, then, that in the lives of increasing numbers of Americans, religion holds little to no importance. One wonders if this overall decline in spirituality might be a factor in such problems as crime and political corruption that are so prevalent now in America.
Russia seems to be going in the opposite direction, however. The Russian Orthodox Church has experienced phenomenal growth since the fall of communism. The Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, dynamited at the order of Joseph Stalin in 1931, was rebuilt in the 1990s and reconsecrated in August of 2000. But as you’ll see from the article below, it wasn’t the only church constructed in the newly-revived Mother Russia–not by a long shot.
The problems with political corruption in America are certainly not new, but they have been particularly underscored by the current presidential campaign. At the same time, Russia’s Vladimir Putin has become one of the most respected leaders in the world today. This is not only the opinion of writers like Paul Craig Roberts, but was even grudgingly admitted to by a retired US general. Russia is clearly in the ascendant. The US empire, on the other hand, is in decline. Again, one cannot help pondering the question: how much of a role has spiritual faith, or lack thereof, played in these dynamics? My guess is that it has been a very big factor. ]
Russia Built 3 Churches Per Day, 1000 Per Year, for 28 Years–a World Record
Religious faith in Russia never grew more intensively than in the past three decades, believes Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk.
The head of the Department of External Church Relations (DECR) spoke about religious faith in Russia, and its history and revival in recent decades at a meeting with a group of professors and 250 students from Italy on October 11, 2016, reports the DECR’s website.
“The epoch which we call ‘the second Baptism of Russia’ begun in our Church in 1988. The mass baptism of our population started in Russia in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s,” Metropolitan Hilarion said while relating the history of Orthodoxy in Russia to the Italian guests.
“Today we have 35,000 churches. That means that we have opened 29,000 churches over twenty-eight years, opening more than 1,000 churches per year or three per day… Earlier we had three theological seminaries or academies, and today there are over fifty,” the metropolitan stressed.
In Metropolitan Hilarion’s view, Russian history has “never witnessed such growth in religious faith as we have seen in the past twenty-eight years.”
“More than that, I know no other precedent of this kind anywhere throughout the history of mankind. We are aware that the epoch of St. Constantine the Great in the fourth century was a time when churches were built everywhere and mass baptisms took place. But there is no statistics for that period, while we do have statistics for the epoch we live in,” he added.
Noting that today many say that modern society lives in the post-Christian era, the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church said that it is not felt in Russia.
“With our own eyes we have seen the power of Christianity which enables us to open three churches per day today. We have witnessed how Christianity transforms human lives, to what extent Christ and His teaching are still important nowadays,” Metropolitan Hilarion said in conclusion.
Professors and students of schools under the Jesuit Order in Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin and Palermo took part in the meeting with the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations.