Religion in Ukraine

Traditionally Ukraine was inhabited by pagan tribes, but by the turn of the first millennium Byzantine-rite Christianity was introduced. It is thought that Apostle Andrew came up to the site where the city of Kiev was built in his lifetime.

However it was only by the 10th century that the emerging state, the Kievan Rus' became influenced by the Byzantine Empire, the first known conversion was by the duchess St. Olga who came to Constantinople. Several years later, her grandson, Knyaz Vladimir baptised his people in the Dnieper River. This began a long history of the dominance of the Eastern Orthodoxy in Ruthenia that later was to influence Russia and Ukraine.

Judaism was present on Ukrainian lands for approximately 2000 years when Jewish traders appeared in Greek colonies. At the same time the neighboring Khazar Kaganate was influenced by Judaism. Since the 13th century the Jewish presence in Ukraine increased significantly. Later on in Ukraine was established new teaching of Judaism – Hasidism.

The Muslim religion was brought to Ukraine by a long history of controversies with Golden Horde and Ottoman Empire. Crimean Tatars accepted Islam by being a part of the Golden Horde and later the vassals of Ottoman Empire.

Religion in Ukraine went through a series of phases, but one notably in the times of the Soviet Union. Such was the rule of the official oppressive communist regime, when Christians were persecuted and only a small fraction of people officially were church goers.

The 2006 Razumkov Centre survey indicates:

  • 14.9 percent of believers identify themselves with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate
  • 10.9 percent are adherents of Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) (which has the largest number of churches in Ukraine and claims up to 75% of the Ukrainian population[3])
  • 5.3 percent belonged to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (sometimes referred to as the Uniate, Byzantine, or Eastern Rite Church)
  • 1.0 percent belonged to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
  • 0.6 percent belonged to the Roman Catholic Church
  • 0.9 percent identified themselves as Protestants (Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, Mennonites, Adventists);/li>
  • 0.1 percent follow Jewish religious practices;
  • 3.2 percent said they belonged to "other denominations".
  • 62.5 percent stated they are not religious or did not clearly identified their church allegiance (many Orthodox Ukrainians do not clearly self-identify with a particular denomination and, sometimes, are even unaware of the affiliation of the church they attend as well as of the controversy itself, which indicates the impossibility to use the survey numbers as an indicator of a relative strength of the church).

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