This File Last Updated: 2001/11/25


Religion


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Throughout its history, Belarus has always had a large variety of people of various national and ethnic backgrounds, and there should be no surprise that there have always been a wide range of religious organizations as well.

There are many other Internet resources about the world's religions and the following list does not attempt to be exhaustive. I refer you to the various search tools and other Internet forums to locate such information. Also, search your list of usenet newsgroups for groups containing the word "religion" as well as the name of the religion you are interested in.

Among the organizations currently providing much-needed aid in Belarus related to the aftermath of the   Chornobyl disaster,   there are also evangelical Christian organizations.


The following US State Dept. essay is from September, 2000:   U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 2000.   (Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Washington, DC, September 5, 2000)

Although somewhat dated, the following excerpt may be of some interest:   Belarus: Religious Freedom.   (On the RFE/RL Web site; an excerpt from a longer US State Dept. essay of 1997.)

The following US State Dept. essay is from 1999:   U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999: Belarus.   (Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Washington, DC, September 9, 1999)



General



Christian - within Belarus

Orthodox Christian

Introductory Notes: Religious theology among the various Orthodox Christian factions is very similar. However, religion in Belarus has always been political.

An independent Orthodox Christian church has not existed in Belarus since the late 18th century. In the late 19th century, about the time of Belarusian nationalistic uprisings, including those led by Kastus Kalinouski, people were forcibly converted to the Russian Orthodox religion, and churches were built in many villages, as part of Russification. They have always espoused pro-Russian political ideology, whether Czarist, Soviet, or Lukashism, and up through the present, they have included agents of the Soviet/Russian intelligence service.

Today (2001), the Russian Orthodox church in Belarus has a favored position in many ways. Other religions are often persecuted at the hands of the government. It is also alleged to be the largest importer of tax-free cigarettes and alcohol, and the personal wealth of the church's leader, Metropolitan Filaret, is said to be second only to Mr. Lukashenka and his cronies.



Christian - outside of Belarus (emigre)


Islam - within Belarus


"According to Mr (Ismail) Aleksandrovich, mufti of Belarus' Islamic community, there are now about 44,000 Muslims, including about 20,000 Azerbaijanis, 12,500 Tatars, 5,000 Uzbeks, nearly 2,500 Kazakhs, appoximately 2,000 Tajiks and Turkmens, and about 1,500 Arab students.

"The country also has four mosques (in Ivye, Novogrudok [Navahradak], Slonim, and Smilovichi). 'We will soon have a fifth mosque, as the Muslim community in the settlement of Vidzy in the Braslav district of the Vitebsk region has been given a building for this purpose,' Mr Aleksandrovich added."     Source: BelaPAN, No. 94; Tuesday, July 28, 1998; 7:50 p.m.


Islam - outside of Belarus (emigre)



Judaism - within Belarus

"At the turn of the century, over 50 percent of the population of Mensk, Hrodna, Mogiliev, and Viciebsk were Jewish (98 percent of native Belarusians lived in the countryside). Today, Jews consititute one percent of the national population."       Information from the Minsk in Your Pocket guide, Summer, 1997, page 30; Winter, 1997-98, page 31.

See the Jewish Links section for related information.









Judaism - outside of Belarus (emigre)




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