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Ivolginsky datsan is the center of Buddhism in Russia 

Main religious denominations

In both Russia and Buryatia, religion has always been an integral part of the spiritual life of all the peoples and ethnic groups of the region. Religion has a decisive influence on all aspects of society, on the traditions, customs and rituals of nations. In times of social cataclysms, religion was the hope and support of people.

In order to better understand the present, to predict the future, it is necessary to know the past. The population living in the territory of Buryatia experienced three big waves of the coming of religions. Previously, the dominant religion was shamanism, that is, a certain system of views on the relationship between nature and man. The original traces of Buddhism date back to 441 AD, it was a discovery of a Buddhist bronze marching altar excavated by archaeologists at the Ivolga archaeological site near Ulan-Ude.

At the time of Genghis Khan and his descendants, the capital of the Mongolian state was Karakorum and all the Orthodox, Nestorian, Catholic, Muslim churches and clergymen peacefully coexisted. This is reported by the Russian chronicles and Alexander Nevsky, who have been in the Karakorum four times (in total, having lived here for about 5 years), and, possibly, have been in Transbaikalia, at Chingisid’s summer cottages in Kondu and Hirkhir.

By the way, on September 12, 2005, a cathedral church in Chita was consecrated in the name of the holy Prince Alexander Nevsky, who is considered the patron saint and heavenly intercessor of Transbaikalia.

The second stage of the advent of religions dates back to the middle of the 17th century. All following years passed under the banner of the struggle between Christianity and Buddhism against shamanism, and then between themselves, until Buddhism was recognized in 1741 by the tsarist government as a legalized religion for the Buryats. Since 1756, the second wave of Old Believers resettled in Transbaikalia began, with the religion of which the tsarist government also fought. Before the October Revolution, Jewish, Muslim, Evangelical Christian, and Catholic religious communities and groups appeared on the territory of Transbaikalia thanks to exile, penal servitude, and migration.

After the Law of the Russian Empire dated April 17, 1905 “On Freedom of Religion” and the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, religious communities of Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Johannites appeared.

Before the start of mass repressions, according to data as of January 1, 1930, there were 319 parishes and communities in the territory of the Republic of Buryatia - 37 Buddhist, 210 Orthodox, 53 Old Believers, 6 Muslim, 7 Jewish, 5 Christian Baptists, 1 Catholic.

After the Great Patriotic War (World War II (Eastern Front)), one Orthodox church in Ulan-Ude and one Buddhist datsan in the Upper Ivolga area officially operated in Buryatia. Over the past 15 years, there have been major changes in state-confessional relations compared to the past Soviet period. After the return in 1990, religious associations of the status of legal entities, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Russian Muslim Ummah, associations of Buddhists, Jews, Protestants and other confessions are actively integrated into the legal field of the Russian Federation and occupy their rightful place in Russian society.

Since 1990, Russia has adopted a number of normative acts, in the spirit of tolerance, regulating, to some extent, the activities of religious associations. Among them, the basic USSR Law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations" dated October 1, 1990, the RSFSR Law "On Freedom of Religions" dated October 25, 1990 and replacing them with the Law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations" from September 26, 1997, amendments to tax laws and later to the Tax Code, providing benefits to religious associations in the implementation of their cult activities. In addition, a number of decrees of the President of Russia and Decrees of the Government of the Russian Federation were adopted in connection with the need to regulate the return to religious associations of religious property selected from them during the Soviet period.

The number of religious associations registered with the Federal Registration Service of the Russian Federation is increasing every year. In recent years, their numbers have increased several times (in 1986 - 3,040, in 2001 - 20,215, at the beginning of 2005 - about 30,000). There are approximately as many different religious groups without state registration. Today, there are more than 60 religious denominations in Russia, but the most numerous are the Russian Orthodox Church (about 11 thousand registered religious associations) and Islam (more than 3 thousand). According to sociological data conducted in the western part of Russia, about 70% of Russians consider themselves to be believers.

As of September 1, 2007, 190 religious associations were registered with the Office of the Federal Registration Service in the Republic of Buryatia, of which:

71 - Orthodox,

51 - Buddhist,

43 - Protestant,

6 - Old Believers and Old Orthodox,

3 - Shamanic associations,

one each - Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Bahá’í, Hare Krishnas.

If we evaluate these 190 religious associations of Buryatia from the point of measurement of world religions, then it turns out that 132 associations (70%) belong to Christianity - they are representatives of Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism and other Christian dogmas. That is, precisely those religions that brought the ten commandments of Moses and the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount to the mind and heart of the people made a decisive contribution to the creation of modern civilization.

Our neighbors also have a multi-religious composition of the population - the Irkutsk region. On April 1, 2005, there were 244 religious associations, of which:

88 - Orthodox, 1 - Old Believers, 13 - Buddhist, 7 - Muslim, 8 - Catholic, 4 - Jewish, 21 - Baptist, 54 - Evangelical Christian Christians, 12 - Adventists, 23 - Jehovah's Witnesses.

In total, 217 religious associations belong to Christianity in the Irkutsk Region, it is 89% of the total.

There are 107 religious associations in the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia, of which:

50 - Orthodox, 40 - Protestant, 3 - Muslim, 1 - Buddhist community, 13 - non-Christian.

In total 103 religious associations belong to Christianity in Yakutia, that is 96%.

Thus, over the past 15 years, radical changes have taken place in Eastern Siberia, as well as throughout the Russian Federation - religion has become an important factor in public and state life. The policy of state atheism has been replaced by a democratic solution for all religions, which opened the way for Russians to free ideological and religious self-determination, to spread their faith.