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In addition, Catholics in Central and Eastern Europe are much more likely than Orthodox Christians to say they engage in religious practices such as taking communion and fasting during Lent.
To the extent that there has been measurable religious change in recent decades in Central and Eastern European countries with large Catholic populations, it has been in the direction of greater secularization.Whether the return to religion in Orthodox-majority countries began before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 remains an open question.Reliable, verifiable data about religious beliefs and practices in the region’s then-communist regimes is difficult, if not impossible, to find.Relatively few Orthodox or Catholic adults in Central and Eastern Europe say they regularly attend worship services, pray often or consider religion central to their lives. Three words, three distinct ways in which people connect (or don’t) to religion: Do they believe in a higher power? Do they feel part of a congregation, spiritual community or religious group?For example, a median of just 10% of Orthodox Christians across the region say they go to church on a weekly basis. Research suggests that many people around the world engage with religion in at least one of these ways, but not necessarily all three.In many Central and Eastern European countries, religion and national identity are closely entwined.
This is true in former communist states, such as the Russian Federation and Poland, where majorities say that being Orthodox or Catholic is important to being “truly Russian” or “truly Polish.” It is also the case in Greece, where the church played a central role in Greece’s successful struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire and where today three-quarters of the public (76%) says that being Orthodox is important to being “truly Greek.” Many people in the region embrace religion as an element of national belonging even though they are not highly observant.
Although Catholics overall are more religiously observant than Orthodox Christians in the region, however, the association between religious identity and national identity is stronger in Orthodox-majority countries than in Catholic ones.
Across the countries where Orthodox Christians make up a majority, a median of 70% say it is important to be Orthodox to truly share the national identity of their country (e.g., that one must be Russian Orthodox to be “truly Russian,” or Greek Orthodox to be “truly Greek”).
In all three countries, the share of the population that identifies with Orthodox Christianity is up significantly since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
experienced the same upsurge as Orthodox Christianity.
But, in some cases, even members of religious minority groups take this position.