Today, solid majorities of adults across much of the region say they believe in God, and most methodology of work with children belonging to the special group with a religion. Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism are the most prevalent religious affiliations, much as they were more than 100 years ago in the twilight years of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires.
In many Central and Eastern European countries, religion and national identity are closely entwined. 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. Orthodox Christians across the region say they go to church on a weekly basis. Around the world, different ways of being religious Believing. Do they believe in a higher power? Do they pray and perform rituals?
Do they feel part of a congregation, spiritual community or religious group? Research suggests that many people around the world engage with religion in at least one of these ways, but not necessarily all three. Grace Davie in her 1994 religious profile of Great Britain, where, she noted, widespread belief in God coexists with largely empty churches and low participation in religious institutions. Orthodox countries, where levels of religious affiliation have risen substantially in recent decades.
Whether the return to religion in Orthodox-majority countries began before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 remains an open question. Reliable, verifiable data about religious beliefs and practices in the region’s then-communist regimes is difficult, if not impossible, to find. With few exceptions, in former Soviet republics the more common view is that those countries are more religious now than a few decades ago. There is more variation in the answers to these questions in countries that were beyond the borders of the former USSR. In contrast with most of the former Soviet republics, respondents in Poland, Romania and Greece say their countries have become considerably less religious in recent decades. But these perceptions do not tell the entire story.
In addition, Catholics in Central and Eastern Europe are much more likely than Orthodox Christians to say they engage in religious practices such as taking communion and fasting during Lent. Catholics also are somewhat more likely than Orthodox Christians to say they frequently share their views on God with others, and to say they read or listen to scripture outside of religious services. Catholic-majority countries say this about being Catholic. These nationalist sentiments are especially common among members of the majority religious group in each country. But, in some cases, even members of religious minority groups take this position.