Religion in Belarus

Religion in Belarus, what is actually known about it? Are there actually believers in Belarus, and what kind of faith do they have? Is it allowed for them to believe? And what about the past centuries with faith in Belarus?


At present, the following percentages of religions are in Belarus:
  • Russian Orthodox: 80%
  • Catholic: 7%
  • Protestants: 2.7%

There are also small minorities of Muslims and Jews in Belarus


But as it is now, it has not always been that way. For a long time the most important religion was connected with who was the boss at that time. As a result, large population groups had to change their faith. The territory of modern Belarus was the start of a fierce battle between the Orthodox and the Catholic Church.
From the Middle Ages, the Lithuanian princes adhered to the Orthodox Christian faith. Catholic influences did not come until the 14th century, when the Lithuanian prince Jagiello adopted the Catholic faith. From then on, both of these beliefs co-existed peacefully, for as long as that lasted. With increasing contacts with Europe, Lithuania came into contact with the reformation, which expanded rapidly. Protestantism spoke the national language, and the Orthodox and Catholics liked it. Then, under the leadership of the Jesuit order, the Counter-Reformation began in the country, after which the young people in particular returned to the Catholic Church.

Union of Brest

Pjotr ​​Skarga then proposed to set up a new union. This meant that the authority of the pope had to be recognized, but the church services would retain the orthodox character. In 1596 this reunification went into history as "Union of Brest". This union did not bring the peace they had in mind. On the contrary, there were only more religious disputes. The Orthodox and the Catholics took up arms against each other. When the Russian armies came in the 17th century, the Orthodox prevailed. Later, in the 18th century, after the departure of the Russians, the Catholics again prevailed. Ultimately, in the 19th century, the Orthodox conquered the Catholics.
At the beginning of the 20th century, 60 percent of the Belarusian population was Orthodox Christian. In addition, there were (in order of their number) Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and Islamic religious communities. In the following decades, that picture has been thoroughly changed. Soon after the Communist takeover of power, the Communists started an anti-religious campaign, which drove many believers underground. All religions were banned by the Russians, and many church leaders fled abroad. The consequences of this are still noticeable. In western Belarus, which was part of Poland until World War II, people are still more religious than in the east.

Little church walk

The orthodox church experienced a revival around 1990. The churches closed by communists reopened. But this did not mean that many services were attended again. Many Belarusians are baptized and get married for the church, but hardly ever attend a service. About 6 percent of believers go to church every week. For many Belarusians, membership of the church means that they want to belong, it is more about national identity than about faith. President Lukashenko has put it this way: "I am an atheist, but an orthodox atheist."

No religious freedom

At the moment there is no religious freedom in Belarus. The religious law from 2002 declares all unregistered religious activities illegal. Even if they take place indoors. Because of this law, Catholics and Protestants have far fewer rights, and therefore these religious minorities are struggling in Belarus.

Video: Belarus Religion Facts. Countries Religions By WorldPedia (April 2020).

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