Spiritual Christianity

The term "Spiritual Christianity" (Russian: духовное христианство) refers to "folk Protestants" (narodnye protestanty), non-Orthodox indigenous to the Russian Empire that emerged from among the Orthodox, and from the Bezpopovtsy Raskolniks. Origins may be due to Protestant movements imported to Russia by missionaries, mixed with folk traditions, resulting in tribes of believers collectively called sektanty (sects). When discovered, these tribes of heretics were typically documented by Russian Orthodox Church clergy with a label that described the heresy – not fasting, meeting on Saturday, rejecting the spirit, genital and breast mutilation, self-flagellation, etc.[1]

These heterodox (non-orthodox) groups "rejected ritual and outward observances, believing instead in the direct revelation of God to the inner man".[2] Adherents are called Spiritual Christians (Russian: духовные христиане) or, less accurately, malakan in the Former Soviet Union, and "Molokans" in the United States, often confused with "Doukhobors" in Canada. (Molokane proper comprised the largest and most organized of many Spiritual Christian groups in the Russian Empire).


Historian Pavel Milyukov traced the origins of Spiritual Christianity to the Doukhobors, who were first recorded in the 1800s but originated earlier. Milyukov believed the movement reflected developments among Russian peasants similar to those underlying the German Peasants' War in the German Reformation of the 1500s.[3] Many Spiritual Christians embraced egalitarian and pacifist beliefs, considered politically radical views by the Imperial government.

The Russian government deported some groups to internal exile in Central Asia. About 1% escaped suppression by emigrating (1898-1930s) to North America forming a diaspora which divided into many sub-groups.[4]


Spiritual Christians believe that the validity of an individual's observance of God's Law was suppressed and prohibited as Israel became politicized; they believe that Jesus Christ promoted the New Covenant of Jeremiah by sacrificing his life to initiate the Messianic Era. The religion of the Spiritual Christians encourages individual spiritual interpretation and substitute observances of Biblical Law, with individual approaches to be understood and respected by all. Spiritual Christians have taken an inclusive approach to Christianity; they embrace all relevant aspects of the collective human experience which can be related to timeless Biblical themes.

Rejecting bureaucratic church hierarchy, they considered their religious organization as a homogeneous community, without division into laymen and clergy with respect to all but practical understanding of the Biblical tradition. Because of their rejection of hierarchy and authority, the Imperial government considered them suspect. In the modern era, some Spiritual Christian churches hardened their own doctrine and practices, reducing the flexibility first found in this sect.

Spiritual Christian sects

Among the sects considered to practice Spiritual Christianity are the Doukhobors,[2] Dukh-i-zhizniki, Molokans, Pryguny (Jumpers), Khlysts,[2] Skoptsy,[2] Ikonobortsy (Icon-fighters, "Iconoclasts" and Zhidovstvuyushchiye (Жидовствующие: Judaizers). These sects often have radically different notions of "spirituality" and practices. Their common denominator is that they sought God in "Spirit and Truth" (Gospel of John 4:24) rather than in the Church of official Orthodoxy or ancient rites of Popovtsy. Their saying was "The church is not within logs, but within ribs". The movement was popular with intellectuals such as Tolstoy. Nikolai Leskov was also drawn to Spiritual Christianity after visiting Protestant Europe in 1875.[5]

Separate from Spiritual Christianity were other strands of Russian sektanstvo ("sectarianism" in the sense "splitting into sects" rather than "sectarian bigotry") including the Popovtsy and "Evangelical Christianity".[6]

See also


  • Camfield, Graham P. (October 1990). "The Pavlovtsy of Khar'kov Province, 1886-1905: Harmless Sectarians or Dangerous Rebels?". The Slavonic and East European Review. Modern Humanities Research Association and University College London, School of Slavonic and East European Studies. 68 (4): 692–717. JSTOR 4210447.
  • Berdyaev, Nikolai (1999) [1916]. translated by S. Janos. "Духовное христианство и сектантство в России" [Spiritual Christianity and Sectarianism in Russia]. Russkaya Mysl (Русская мысль, "Russian Thought") – via berdyaev.com.


  1. ^ Klibanov, A.I. (1982). History of Religious Sectarianism in Russia (1860s – 1917). New York: Pergamon Press. ISBN 0080267947.
  2. ^ a b c d Camfield (1990) p.694 fn.4
  3. ^ Norman R. Yetman (Summer 1968). "Doukhoborism and Reitalization". Kansas Journal of Sociology. Allen Press. 4 (3): 153. JSTOR 23255160.
  4. ^ Dunn, Ethel; Stephen P. Dunn (November 1978). "The Molokans [Molokane, Pryguny, and Dukh-i-zhizniki] in America". Dialectical Anthropology. Springer. 3 (4): 352–353. JSTOR 29789944.
  5. ^ Lottridge, Stephen S. (Autumn 1974). "Nikolaj Leskov's Moral Vision in the Prolog Tales". The Slavic and East European Journal. American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages. 18 (3): 252–258. JSTOR 306256.
  6. ^ Berdyaev (1916)

External links


Armenia ( (listen); Armenian: Հայաստան, romanized: Hayastan, IPA: [hɑjɑsˈtɑn]), officially the Republic of Armenia (Armenian: Հայաստանի Հանրապետություն, romanized: Hayastani Hanrapetut'yun, IPA: [hɑjɑstɑˈni hɑnɾɑpɛtutʰˈjun]), is a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located in Western Asia on the Armenian Highlands, it is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, the de facto independent Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and Azerbaijan's exclave of Nakhchivan to the south.Armenia is a unitary, multi-party, democratic nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage. Urartu was established in 860 BC and by the 6th century BC it was replaced by the Satrapy of Armenia. The Kingdom of Armenia reached its height under Tigranes the Great in the 1st century BC and became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion in the late 3rd or early 4th century AD. The official date of state adoption of Christianity is 301. The ancient Armenian kingdom was split between the Byzantine and Sasanian Empires around the early 5th century. Under the Bagratuni dynasty, the Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia was restored in the 9th century. Declining due to the wars against the Byzantines, the kingdom fell in 1045 and Armenia was soon after invaded by the Seljuk Turks. An Armenian principality and later a kingdom Cilician Armenia was located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea between the 11th and 14th centuries.

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the traditional Armenian homeland composed of Eastern Armenia and Western Armenia came under the rule of the Ottoman and Iranian empires, repeatedly ruled by either of the two over the centuries. By the 19th century, Eastern Armenia had been conquered by the Russian Empire, while most of the western parts of the traditional Armenian homeland remained under Ottoman rule. During World War I, Armenians living in their ancestral lands in the Ottoman Empire were systematically exterminated in the Armenian Genocide. In 1918, following the Russian Revolution, all non-Russian countries declared their independence after the Russian Empire ceased to exist, leading to the establishment of the First Republic of Armenia. By 1920, the state was incorporated into the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, and in 1922 became a founding member of the Soviet Union. In 1936, the Transcaucasian state was dissolved, transforming its constituent states, including the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, into full Union republics. The modern Republic of Armenia became independent in 1991 during the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Armenia recognises the Armenian Apostolic Church, the world's oldest national church, as the country's primary religious establishment. The unique Armenian alphabet was invented by Mesrop Mashtots in 405 AD.

Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, the Council of Europe and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Armenia supports the de facto independent Artsakh, which was proclaimed in 1991.

Christian denomination

A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, identified by traits such as a name, organization, leadership and doctrine. Individual bodies, however, may use alternative terms to describe themselves, such as church or sometimes fellowship. Divisions between one group and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, eschatology, and papal primacy may separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity". These branches differ in many ways, especially through differences in practices and belief.

Individual denominations vary widely in the degree to which they recognize one another. Several groups claim to be the direct and sole authentic successor of the church founded by Jesus Christ in the 1st century AD. Others, however, believe in denominationalism, where some or all Christian groups are legitimate churches of the same religion regardless of their distinguishing labels, beliefs, and practices. Because of this concept, some Christian bodies reject the term "denomination" to describe themselves, to avoid implying equivalency with other churches or denominations.

The Catholic Church which claims 1.2 billion members – slightly over half of all Christians worldwide – does not view itself as a denomination, but as the original pre-denominational church, a view rejected by other Christians. Protestant denominations account for approximately 37 percent of Christians worldwide. Together, Catholicism and Protestantism (including Anglicanism, and other denominations sharing historical ties) comprise Western Christianity. Western Christian denominations prevail in Western, Northern, Central and Southern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas and Oceania.The Eastern Orthodox Church, with an estimated 225–300 million adherents, is the second-largest Christian organization in the world and also considers itself the original pre-denominational church. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church is itself a communion of fully independent autocephalous churches (or "jurisdictions") that mutually recognize each other to the exclusion of others. The Eastern Orthodox Church, together with Oriental Orthodoxy and the Assyrian Church of the East, constitutes Eastern Christianity. (There are also some smaller groups of Eastern Catholics which are in communion with the Bishop of Rome but have cultural and historical ties with other Eastern Christians and Byzantine Lutherans were newer group of Eastern Christianity and Protestant Lutheranism in Ukraine and Slovenia that accepts Byzantine Rite as the denomination's liturgy while retaining their Lutheran traditions.) Eastern Christian denominations are represented mostly in Eastern Europe, North Asia, the Middle East, Northeast Africa and mostly South India.

Christians have various doctrines about the Church (the body of the faithful that they believe Jesus Christ established) and about how the divine church corresponds to Christian denominations. Both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox hold that their own organizations faithfully represent the One Holy catholic and Apostolic Church to the exclusion of the other. Sixteenth-century Protestants separated from the Catholic Church because of theologies and practices that they considered to be in violation of their own interpretation. Generally, members of the various denominations acknowledge each other as Christians, at least to the extent that they have mutually recognized baptisms and acknowledge historically orthodox views including the Divinity of Jesus and doctrines of sin and salvation, even though doctrinal and ecclesiological obstacles hinder full communion between churches.

Since the reforms surrounding the Second Vatican Council of 1962–1965, the Catholic Church has referred to Protestant communities as "denominations", while reserving the term "church" for apostolic churches, including the Eastern Orthodox (see subsistit in and branch theory). But some non-denominational Christians

do not follow any particular branch, though sometimes regarded as Protestants.

Deus caritas est

Deus caritas est (English: "God is Love"), subtitled De Christiano Amore (Of Christian love), is a 2005 encyclical, the first written by Pope Benedict XVI, in large part derived from writings by his late predecessor, Pope John Paul II. Its subject is love, as seen from a Christian perspective, and God's place within all love. Charity is one of the three theological virtues; and the other two (hope and faith) were treated in two successive encyclicals, one signed by Benedict (Spe Salvi) and one written substantially by him but signed by his successor Pope Francis (Lumen fidei).

This text begins with a reflection on the forms of love known in Greek philosophy—eros (possessive, often sexual, love), agape (unconditional, self-sacrificing love), philia (friendship)—and their relationship with the teachings of Jesus.

The encyclical contains almost 16,000 words in 42 paragraphs. The first half is said to have been written by Benedict in German, his mother tongue, in the summer of 2005; the second half is derived from uncompleted writings left by John Paul II. The document was signed by Pope Benedict on Christmas Day, 25 December 2005. Some reports attribute the delay to problems in translating the original German text into Latin, others to disputes within the Vatican over the precise wording of the document.The encyclical was promulgated on 25 January 2006, in Latin and officially translated into seven other languages (English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish). It is the first encyclical to be published since the Vatican decided to assert copyright in the official writings of the Pope.


A dissenter (from the Latin dissentire, "to disagree") is one who disagrees in matters of opinion, belief, etc. In the social and religious history of England and Wales, and, by extension, Ireland, however, it refers particularly to a member of a religious body who has, for one reason or another, separated from the Established Church or any other kind of Protestant who refuses to recognise the supremacy of the Established Church in areas where the established Church is or was Anglican.Originally, the term included English and Welsh Roman Catholics whom the original draft of the Nonconformist Relief Act 1779 styled "Protesting Catholic Dissenters". In practice, however, it designates Protestant Dissenters referred to in sec. ii. of the Act of Toleration of 1689 (see English Dissenters). The term recusant, in contrast, came to refer to Roman Catholics rather than Protestant dissenters.

The term has also been applied to those bodies who dissent from the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which is the national church of Scotland. In this connotation, the terms "dissenter" and "dissenting", which had acquired a somewhat contemptuous flavor, have tended since the middle of the 18th century to be replaced by "nonconformist", a term which did not originally imply secession, but only refusal to conform in certain particulars (for example the wearing of the surplice), with the authorized usages of the Established Church.Still more recently, the term "nonconformist" has in its turn, as the political attack on the principle of a state establishment of religion developed, tended to give way to the style of "free churches" and "Free Churchman". All three terms continue in use, "nonconformist" being the most usual, as it is the most colourless.

Eastern Christianity

Eastern Christianity comprises church families that developed outside the Occident, with major bodies including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches (that are in communion with Rome but still maintain Eastern liturgies), and the denominations descended from the Church of the East. The Ukrainian Lutheran Church is also an Eastern Christian church that uses the Byzantine Rite. The term is used in contrast with Western Christianity (namely the Latin Church and most of Protestantism), although its scope has been one of continual discussion. Eastern Christianity consists of the Christian traditions and churches that developed distinctively over several centuries in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Malabar coast of South India, and parts of the Far East. The term does not describe a single communion or religious denomination. Some Eastern churches have more in common historically and theologically with Western Christianity than with one another. The various Eastern churches do not normally refer to themselves as "Eastern", with the exception of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East.

The terms "Eastern" and "Western" in this regard originated with geographical divisions in Christianity mirroring the cultural divide between the Hellenistic east and Latin West, and the political divide between the Western and Eastern Roman empires. Because the largest church in the East is the body currently known as the Eastern Orthodox Church, the term "Orthodox" is often used in a similar fashion to "Eastern", to refer to specific historical Christian communions. However, strictly speaking, most Christian denominations, whether Eastern or Western, consider themselves to be "orthodox" (following correct beliefs) as well as "catholic" (or "universal"), as two of the Four Marks of the Church listed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed: "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic" (Greek: μία, ἁγία, καθολικὴ καὶ ἀποστολικὴ ἐκκλησία).There are several liturgical rites in use among the Eastern churches (excepting the non-liturgical dissenting bodies). These are the Alexandrian Rite, the Antiochene Rite, the Armenian Rite, the Byzantine Rite, the East Syriac Rite and the West Syriac Rite.

James Emery White

Not to be confused with author and theologian James R. White.James Emery White (born December 20, 1961), is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; President of Serious Times, a ministry that explores the intersection of faith and culture and hosts ChurchandCulture.org; ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture on the Charlotte campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where he also served as their fourth president; and author of more than 20 books that have been translated into ten languages.Mecklenburg Community Church began with a single family and has grown to more than 10,000 active attenders on five campuses. The church recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary. The church experiences more than 70% of its growth from those who were previously unchurched and during its formative years was often cited as one of the fastest growing church starts in the United States. He is also Distinguished Professor of Pastoral Ministry at Anderson University, and consulting editor to Leadership Journal.

White holds a B.S. degree in public relations and business from Appalachian State University, and the M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he received a Garrett Teaching Fellowship in both New testament and Theology. He has also done advanced university study at Vanderbilt University in American religious history, and continuing education at Oxford University in England, including participation in Oxford's Summer Programme in Theology.

White is the author of more than 20 books, including such Gold Medallion nominees as Serious Times and A Search for the Spiritual, Christianity Today book-of-the-year award winner Embracing the Mysterious God, as well as The Prayer God Longs For and Rethinking the Church. His most recent publications include Meet Generation Z, The Rise of the Nones, The Church in an Age of Crisis, and What They Didn't Teach You in Seminary.

In November 2009, White signed an ecumenical statement known as the Manhattan Declaration calling on evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox not to comply with rules and laws permitting abortion, same-sex marriage and other matters that go against their religious consciences.

Josiah Strong

Josiah Strong (April 14, 1847 – June 26, 1916) was an American Protestant clergyman, organizer, editor and author. He was a leader of the Social Gospel movement, calling for social justice and combating social evils. He supported missionary work so that all races could be improved and uplifted and thereby brought to Christ. He is controversial, however, due to his beliefs about race and methods of converting people to Christianity. In his 1885 book Our Country, Strong argued that Anglo-Saxons are a superior race who must "Christianize and civilize" the "savage" races, which he argued would be good for the American economy and the "lesser races".


Khlysts or Khlysty (Russian: Хлысты) was an underground sect, which existed from 1645 to the late 20th century. It split off the Russian Orthodox Church and belonged to the Spiritual Christians (духовные христиане) tendency.

List of religions and spiritual traditions

While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who defined it as a

[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic."

A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category." Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences.Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.

Louis Claude de Saint-Martin

Louis Claude de Saint-Martin (18 January 1743 – 14 October 1803) was a French philosopher, known as le philosophe inconnu, the name under which his works were published; he was an influential of the mystic and human mind evolution and became the inspiration for the founding of the Martinist Order.

Manifest destiny

In the 19th century, manifest destiny was a widely held belief in the United States that its settlers were destined to expand across North America. There are three basic themes to manifest destiny:

The special virtues of the American people and their institutions

The mission of the United States to redeem and remake the west in the image of agrarian America

An irresistible destiny to accomplish this essential dutyHistorian Frederick Merk says this concept was born out of "a sense of mission to redeem the Old World by high example ... generated by the potentialities of a new earth for building a new heaven".Historians have emphasized that "manifest destiny" was a contested concept—Democrats endorsed the idea but many prominent Americans (such as Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and most Whigs) rejected it. Historian Daniel Walker Howe writes, "American imperialism did not represent an American consensus; it provoked bitter dissent within the national polity ... Whigs saw America's moral mission as one of democratic example rather than one of conquest."Newspaper editor John O'Sullivan is generally credited with coining the term manifest destiny in 1845 to describe the essence of this mindset, which was a rhetorical tone; however, the unsigned editorial titled "Annexation" in which it first appeared was arguably written by journalist and annexation advocate Jane Cazneau. The term was used by Democrats in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico and it was also used to divide half of Oregon with Great Britain. But manifest destiny always limped along because of its internal limitations and the issue of slavery, says Merk. It never became a national priority. By 1843, former U.S. President John Quincy Adams, originally a major supporter of the concept underlying manifest destiny, had changed his mind and repudiated expansionism because it meant the expansion of slavery in Texas.Merk concluded:

From the outset Manifest Destiny—vast in program, in its sense of continentalism—was slight in support. It lacked national, sectional, or party following commensurate with its magnitude. The reason was it did not reflect the national spirit. The thesis that it embodied nationalism, found in much historical writing, is backed by little real supporting evidence.


A Molokan (Russian: молокан, IPA: [məlɐˈkan] or молоканин, "milk-drinker") is a member of various Spiritual Christian sects that evolved from Eastern Christianity in the East Slavic lands. Their traditions—especially dairy consumption during Christian fasts—did not conform to those of the Russian Orthodox Church, and they were regarded as neither Eastern Orthodox, nor Catholic, nor Protestant. The term Molokan is an exonym used by their Orthodox neighbors; they tend to identify themselves as Spiritual Christians (духовные христиане dukhovnye khristiane).

Unlike the Protestant "reformists" of Western Europe, Molokans rejected conformity. There are almost as many different ways among Molokans as there are Molokans. Some built chapels for worship, kept sacraments, and revered saints and icons, while others (like Ikonobortsy, "icon-wrestlers") discarded these practices in the pursuit of individual approaches to scripture. In general, they rejected the institutionalized formalism of Orthodoxy and denominations with similar doctrines in favor of more emphasis on "Original Christianity" as they understood it. They emphasized spirituality and spiritual practice; such sacramental practices as water baptism have been permitted only as tangible signs and symbols of more important spiritual truths.

Similar to Presbyterians among Protestants, and considered heretical by the Orthodox Church, they elect a council of dominant elders who preserve a sort of apostolic succession. Molokans had some practices similar to the European Quakers and Mennonites, such as pacifism, communal organization, spiritual meetings, and sub-groupings. But they arose in Russia together with the Doukhobors and Sabbatarians (also known as Subbotniks) and similar Spiritual Christian movements of Duhovnye Kristyanye and Ikonobortsy. They migrated into central Russia and Ukraine around the same time.


Neo-revelationism is a term for the beliefs of religious groups, especially Christian or Christianity-derived who claim direct revelation beyond claims of divine inspiration associated with the Christian Bible proper, but the term is also applicable relative to the Bahá'í Faith, and Ahmadiyya movement relative to mainstream Islam, and to Messiah claimants in a context of Judaism.

The English term is a translation of the German Neuoffenbarung.

Old Israel

Old Israel may refer to:

the history of ancient Israel and Judah

Staroizrail, a sect of 19th century Russian Spiritual Christianity

Religion in Jersey

Despite its small size, the population of Jersey is made of people with a diverse range of religions and beliefs. Traditionally seen as a Christian island, Jersey's established church is the Church of England, and Anglicanism and Catholicism are practised on the island in roughly equal numbers. Together, these religions account for around half the population of Jersey. Other denominations of Christianity and other religions such as Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, and Buddhism account for handfuls of people on the island. In recent years, irreligion has been an increasing force in Jersey, with two fifths of the population identifying as having no religion. This number rises to 52% for Jersey people under 35.

Religion in Russia

Religion in Russia is diverse with Christianity, especially Orthodoxy, being the most widely professed faith, but with significant minorities of Irreligious people, Muslims and Pagans. A 1997 law on religion recognises the right to freedom of conscience and creed to all the citizenry, the spiritual contribution of Orthodox Christianity to the history of Russia, and respect to "Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and other religions and creeds which constitute an inseparable part of the historical heritage of Russia's peoples", including ethnic religions or Paganism, either preserved or revived. According to the law, any religious organisation may be recognised as "traditional" if it was already in existence before 1982, and each newly founded religious group has to provide its credentials and re-register yearly for fifteen years, and, in the meantime until eventual recognition, stay without rights.The Russian Orthodox Church, though its influence is thin in some parts of the North Caucasian region and there are a lot of different religious movements in Russia, claiming the right to decide which other religions or denominations are to be granted the right of registration. Some Protestant churches which were already in existence before the Russian Revolution have been unable to re-register, and the Catholic Church has been forbidden to develop its own territorial jurisdictions. According to some Western observers, respect for freedom of religion by Russian authorities has declined since the late 1990s and early 2000s. Activities of the Jehovah's Witnesses are currently banned in Russia.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 there has been a revival and spread of Siberian shamanism (which also mixed in some cases very strong with Orthodox elements) , and the emergence of Hindu and new religious movements throughout Russia. There has been an "exponential increase in new religious groups and alternative spiritualities", Eastern religions and Neopaganism, even among self-defined "Christians"—a term which has become a loose descriptor for a variety of eclectic views and practices. Russia has been defined by the scholar Eliot Borenstein as the "Southern California of Europe" because of such a blossoming of new religious movements, and the latter are perceived by the Russian Orthodox Church as competitors in a "war for souls". It must be added that Borensteins commentary is very imprecise and inaccurate, as many of the religions of Russia have been traditional components for several hundred of years and formed the Russian cultural identities over a long period of time through strong ethno-cultural interactions.


The Skoptsy (Russian: скопцы; singular скопец "castrate"; also transliterated as Skoptzy, Skoptzi, Skoptsi, Skopzi, Scoptsy, etc.) were a heretical sect, within the larger Spiritual Christianity movement in the Russian Empire, best known for practicing castration of men and the mastectomy of women in accordance with their teachings against sexual lust. The term is a descriptive one used by the official Russian Orthodox Church.

The movement emerged in the late 18th century. It reached the peak of its popularity in the early 20th century, with as many as 100,000 members, in spite of persecution by the imperial government. Despite severe repression under the Soviet Union some members still lived at the start of the 21st century.


The Subbotniks (Russian: Субботники, IPA: [sʊˈbotʲnʲɪkʲɪ], "Sabbatarians") is a common name for Russian sects of Judaizers of Christian origin, who split from other Sabbatarians in the 19th century. There are three main groups of people described as Subbotniks:

Judaizing Talmudists: Subbotnik converts to Rabbinic Judaism, also described as "Gery" (Russian: Геры), "Talmudisty" (Russian: Субботники-Талмудисты), or "Shaposhniki".

Karaimites or Karaite Subbotniks (Russian: Субботники-Караимиты): also described as "Russian Karaites" (Russian: Русские Караимы), considering themselves as adherents of Karaite Judaism. However, it has been reported that they do not practice circumcision.

Subbotnik Molokans (Russian: Молокане-субботники) sect: in contradiction to the previous Subbotnik sects they recognize the Gospel, but also practice some of the rules and precepts of the Old Testament.A 1912 religious census in Russia recorded 12,305 "Judaizing Talmudists", and 4,092 "Russian Karaites", and 8,412 Subbotniks who "had fallen away from Orthodoxy".On the whole, the Subbotniks probably differed little from other Judaizing societies in their early years. They first appeared toward the end of the 18th century during the reign of Catherine the Great. According to official reports of the Russian Empire, most of the sect's followers circumcised their boys, believed in a unitary God rather than in the Christian Trinity, accepted only the Hebrew Bible and observed the Sabbath on Saturday rather than on Sunday as in Christian practice (and hence were called "sabbatarians") There were variations among their beliefs in relation to Jesus, the Second Coming, and other elements of Eastern Orthodox doctrine.

Prior to the First Partition of Poland in 1772, few Jews had settled in the Russian Empire. The Subbotniks were originally Christian peasants of the Russian Orthodox Church. During the reign of Catherine the Great (1729–1796), they adopted elements of Mosaic law of the Old Testament and were known as sabbatarians, part of the Spiritual Christianity movement.Subbotnik families settled in the Holy Land, at the time part of the Ottoman Empire, in the 1880s as part of the Zionist First Aliyah in order to escape oppression in the Russian Empire and later mostly intermarried with other Jews. Their descendants included Israeli Jews such as Alexander Zaïd, Ariel Sharon and Major-General Alik Ron.


İvanovka (Russian: Ивановка) is a village and municipality in the Ismailli Rayon of Azerbaijan. It is at a height of 848 m above sea level, 13 km far from Ismailli region. The municipality consists of the villages of İvanovka and Külüllü.This is the last village in Azerbaijan with a significant population belonging to the Russian ethnic religious community of Molokans. This is the last place in the world where Kolkhoz (collective farms) from Soviet times are preserved.

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