Church’s Political Influence Going Up, Poll Shows

Church’s Political Influence Going Up, Poll Shows

Published: August 15, 2012 (Issue # 1722)

MOSCOW — Russians are increasingly aware of the Orthodox Church’s influence on the political life of the country, but are attaching less importance to its teachings, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

Exactly half of those consulted by the state-run VTsIOM pollster said they felt the church’s influence in domestic politics, a six-percent rise over the 2010 figure. Forty-three percent said religious officials shape Russia’s course in international affairs.

But while respondents said the church’s political reach was growing, they said its role in the daily lives of citizens was falling, with 49 percent saying they essentially ignore the church, six percent more than two years ago.

The survey also discovered that 75 percent of Russians believe that the church should not be involved in politics, while roughly one-third said that the church should be limited to speaking only on religious matters.

In general, young Russians (37 percent) and the highly educated (33 percent) backed limiting the church’s sphere of influence. Villagers (22 percent), pensioners (20 percent) and those without higher education (18 to 19 percent) supported a greater role for the church.

VTsIOM pollsters consulted 1,600 people in 46 regions all over Russia for the survey, which was conducted in June. A margin of error of 3.4 percentage points was given for the poll.

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