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In Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria, far more people said they were religiously unaffiliated in 1991 than describe themselves that way in the new survey.In all three countries, the share of the population that identifies with Orthodox Christianity is up significantly since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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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.

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?

Reliable, verifiable data about religious beliefs and practices in the region’s then-communist regimes is difficult, if not impossible, to find.

But Pew Research Center’s predecessor organization did ask about religion when it surveyed several countries in the region in 1991, during the waning months of the USSR.

Today, the Czech Republic is one of the most secular countries in Europe, with nearly three-quarters of adults (72%) describing their religion as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” The differing trends in predominantly Orthodox and Catholic countries may be, at least in part, a reflection of political geography.

The Orthodox countries in the region are further toward the east, and many were part of the Soviet Union.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”).By comparison, a median of 57% in the four Catholic-majority countries say this about being Catholic.experienced the same upsurge as Orthodox Christianity.In part, this may be because much of the population in countries such as Poland and Hungary retained a Catholic identity during the communist era, leaving less of a religious vacuum to be filled when the USSR fell.The Aston Martin V12 Vantage ruled Snetterton as they locked out five of the six British GT Championship podium places with victory shared between Nicki Thiim/Mark Farmer and Derek Johnston/Marco Sorensen.

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