Orthodox Christianity and Mixed Religiosity Among Russian University Students

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 6:30 PM
Room: Harbor Lounge B
Oral Presentation
Ekaterina GRISHAEVA , Philosophy of Religion, Ural Federal University, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Anastasiya CHERKASOVA , Researcher, Auckland, New Zealand
In the early 90's of XX century Russia adopted the law on freedom of conscience and Russian people were enabled to express their religious views. Religion became an opportunity to gain inner stability in the midst of a social chaos. All that in a very short time contributed to a higher percentage of formal Orthodox Christian believers but a lower proportion of practicing believers. In this paper we analyze the social phenomenon of university students' mixed religiosity in post-Soviet Russia. Results for our research are based on interviews conducted with 323 Russian university students, between 18 and 25 years old. Nearly 68% of the respondents stated that they believe in God, however religious faith comes second to last out of 14 most important life values. 11% of those respondents can be attributed to a ‘practicing Orthodox believers’ group. In the course of our research, we have identified three religiosity types of the university students: formally religious, actively practicing and spiritual. We argue that a significant gap between formally religious and actively practicing Orthodox students has occurred mainly because of a prevalent mixed religiosity among the students and might be explained in terms of uninstitutionalized forms of religion. Mixed religiosity is defined as a combination of different elements of traditional religious concepts and spiritual ideas and practices. The processes of secularization at macro- and meso-levels are analyzed in the article and viewed as preconditions for a mixed religiosity at the micro-level. 

To sum it up, we argue that a broken religious socialization between generations is an important factor for emerging mixed religiosity among Russian university students. The attitude toward religion in the Soviet society, that affected the behavior of our respondents' parents, continues to indirectly influence the religiosity of students in the 2010s.