Religion Russia

Baltic States + Russia: Russia has freedom of religion; in 1997 there was a law implemented that the Russian Orthodox Church was recognized as the leading religion and promised to respect Islam, Buddhism and Judaism. In Estonia 14% of the population are Lutheran and 13% of the population are Russian Orthodox. In Latvia the people are mostly Lutheran (58%) but there are also Catholics (24%) and Russian Orthodox. In Lithuania most believers are Roman Catholic (79%).

During the Soviet domination all expressions of faith were suppressed as much as possible. Churches and monasteries were closed and clergy were deported. In that time the people moved back to the woods. They built small chapels in honor of Mary which were adorned with symbols from the ancient nature religion. Still the ancient folk belief takes an important place in the daily life. According to tradition the people are a part of nature.

Besides their belief in the Christian church many people in the countryside believe in a higher power. Trees or animals such as storks and ravens are signs of this. Latvians and Lithuanians are proud of their stones and honor them as well. In many homes you still will see an extensive collection of stones. In the past the stones were worshiped as gods and spirits. The stone was seen as the axis of world events connected to all life forces. Such stones had the names of ancient gods inscribed upon them, such as the stone of Perkunas or the devil stone.