Secularization or De-secularization? The Challenges of and from the Post-Soviet Experience
The country that pioneered and maintained a policy of state-imposed secularization and official atheism over nearly seven decades is bound to catch the attention of those involved in the secularization debate. The case of Russia may seem even more intriguing in the light of the conflicting accounts and inconsistent evidence relating to the post-Soviet changes in religion (Cipriani 1994: 3). It is not surprising that both proponents and opponents of the secularization thesis have used evidence from the post-Soviet situation to support their conflicting views. Indeed, some indicators, such as Russia’s consistently low rates of church attendance and the insignificant popular engagement in religiously motivated social activities, can readily be construed as mainly favouring the pro-secularization position (Furman et al. 2007). The rational choice theorists, on the other hand, could easily point to the apparently incontrovertible evidence of the causal relationship between the emergence of religious pluralism and the rapidly increasing numbers of religious associations after the fall of communism as well as to the impressive numbers of those claiming to be religious (Greeley 1994).