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In many Central and Eastern European countries, religion and national identity are closely entwined.
Only 15% of Russians, for example, say their country was either “very religious” (3%) or “somewhat religious” (12%) in the 1970s and 1980s, while 55% say Russia is either very (8%) or somewhat (47%) religious today.
There is more variation in the answers to these questions in countries that were beyond the borders of the former USSR.
Many Central and Eastern Europeans, on the other hand, might be described as “believing and belonging, without behaving.” While Pew Research Center’s survey shows that majorities of adults across the region believe in God and identify with Orthodox Christianity, conventional measures of Christian religious behavior – such as levels of daily prayer and weekly worship attendance – are relatively low.
Nonetheless, the comeback of religion in a region once dominated by atheist regimes is striking – particularly in some historically Orthodox countries, where levels of religious affiliation have risen substantially in recent decades.
This political divide is seen in responses to two separate survey questions: How religious do you think your country was in the 1970s and 1980s (when all but Greece among the surveyed countries were ruled by communist regimes), and how religious is it today?