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Church Attendance and Religious Belief in Postcommunist Societies

Mary L. Gautier
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 36, No. 2 (Jun., 1997), pp. 289-296
DOI: 10.2307/1387559
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1387559
Page Count: 8
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Church Attendance and Religious Belief in Postcommunist Societies
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Abstract

Research is just beginning to appear about the effects of Soviet repression on the churches and religious beliefs of the countries which constituted the former Soviet Union. Data from an opinion survey conducted in 17 countries of Western and Eastern Europe in 1991 allow some preliminary observations of a baseline nature about church membership and religious values in these countries. In this paper I compare church membership and religious belief across age categories among Western and Eastern Germans, Hungarians, and Poles. The data show variant patterns of religious affiliation and belief among each of the churches of Central Europe. State repression of churches has substantially affected church membership in Eastern Germany. There is some evidence of a secularization effect among Hungarian Protestants. Polish church membership has been less negatively affected by the years of communism. Mean levels of religious belief for each of these countries show further evidence of these country-specific patterns. Further research is needed to uncover the longer lasting trends in religious affiliation and belief in these countries.

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