The Soviets did everything they could to squelch religion. They destroyed churches, or turned them into everything from stables to movie theatres. Despite the efforts of the Soviets, the Russian people remained secretly devoted to the Russian Orthodox Church.
They continued to baptize their children and to attend church services. They could no longer do this in public. But they continued in private. When the Soviet system fell, many of the churches were restored and opened for services again.
It is now popular to be a church member again. Many prominent Russians, as well as the common people, are returning to the church.
Russians are steeped in the practices of the Orthodox religion. My wife observes all the intricate rules of the Orthodox Church. When we had our daughter, she would not bring her to church for forty days, as is the Orthodox Custom.
She observes all the customs for honoring those that have died, including burial customs and remembering them in church on anniversary dates.
She will not take communion if she has not fasted beforehand, if she is menstruating, and if she has not recently been to confession. In Russia, she wears a shawl over her head in church, which is the custom of women in her country.
She has not read the Bible and is unfamiliar with the Old Testament. She does not know many of the people in the Old Testament like Moses or David. She knows about Adam and Eve and that’s about it.
She knows the rules well, but she is unlikely to get into deep theological discussions.
Most Russian women will tell you that they are Christian and many wear Crucifixes around their neck.
Russians are devout, but they are not usually regular churchgoers. They go for Christmas and Easter (they call it Pasha) and when the spirit moves them.
Russians are best described as spiritual people, rather than religious people.
As Lynn Visson said in her book, ‘Wedded Strangers’:
“Superstitions are far more important to Russians than religious beliefs.”