Is religion an important part of Russians lives?

Gil from Boston asked:
Is religion an important part of Russians lives? I think America should be a lot more secular (too much political influence by the "religious right"), although we are making some progress in this area. I wonder about Russia because I know during the Soviet years religion was not encouraged, and I wonder if there's been a revival/reaction to those previous restraints.

Hello Gil!

I’ve lived in Indian state of Goa for two winters and got close to nice local Hindu family. They’ve asked me cultural questions. One of them was «is your god the same as ours, no?». I really did the best to reply but failed many times. I’ve said things like «I’m agnostic» and «I’m atheist» and «I don’t believe in god» but they kept asking «Yes, but is your god the same as ours?».

Misconceptions come easy as we can see the world only through our own eyes. Walking in the shoes of another person is painful. Our beliefs could be crashed. So people try to avoid this practice.

My family was not religious at all. My grandfather was born in the small village and made himself into an educated man and earned an apartment in Moscow from Army forces to which he gave all his professional life. He was an accountant. He believed in Lenin rather than God. Propaganda worked well.

Many children are baptized in the early childhood (in orthodox religion). I haven't been. Some parents do it because it is fashionable now, some do it because the pressure from elders, some think it will give best of luck to baby. My mom didn’t baptize me as she thought I can choose religion by myself when I’ll grow up.

At the age of 14 I met some nice people from Kentucky (they came as missioners to Russia). I’ve listened to them and thought I like their religion more than orthodox one. It’s a shame buddhists didn’t come; I’d surely choose them instead. I played with this thought for a bit, was baptized in a river, tried to read Bible and then something happened. I felt bored and decided to be an atheist. Now I’d say «Flying Spaghetti Monster» branch is way better. Oh, and one orthodox Russian lady didn't want to sit near me at some relative's bday because I was of another religion. It was funny, she was so terrified.

It’s quite sophisticated now. Celebrities and businessmen claim to be orthodox to have back up on big business deals. Ex-communists claim that Lenin had quite Christian values: Liberté, égalité, fraternité in short. There should be real orthodox people who not only show off but believe and live nicely but I do not see them. Instead, there are many who claim to be religious and yet their actions are not so orthodox-y. Golden churches and no taxes paid, this stuff.

There are many others. Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists. They are like cultural clubs. Social circles. You might work with people and never ask for their religion; it’s not necessary to have it or share it or be sure you have one. It’s optional. And it can be changed. I'll never explain this stuff to my friends from Indian state of Goa. They are born with religion and it's for life.

Funny thing that very religious people I know never read Bible or think about some points; not religious read it and do not believe, partly because of they think a lot. I personally think religion was built as way to keep people under control, to give them values, to restrain them. I don't need it.

Russian should be even more secular. Last year, our government published the new law: it's prohibited to insult religion. It's not prohibited to insult atheists though. There are people willing to insert compulsory orthodox classes in schools or make women willing to go through abortion speak with an orthodox advisor panel first. It's 2015, for your Christ's sake!

This post is an answer to one of The Listserve replies I’ve got.
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