Most foreigners already understand that the dominant religion in Ukraine is Christian Orthodoxy. Although true, most don't realize or understand the variation that exists within the denominations found in different regions. To this day, I'm amazed at the lack of general knowledge that many Ukrainian citizens have when discussing Christian Orthodox religion. So very often, discussion related to the origin and division of Ukrainian Christianity leads to feverish remarks that are in fact very ... un-Christian.
This phenomenon is the result of divide and conquer at its finest. Maybe we should, for now, focus on simple facts and numbers. Let's have a look at the current state of Ukrainian religion, shall we?
Law About Religion in Ukraine
According to Article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine, every Ukrainian citizen has a right to freedom of religion. This right shall include freedom to practice any religion in Ukraine or not to profess any, to freely perform religious rites and rituals in groups or personally, and to live a religious life.
From my own experiences, I've found that most Ukrainians had always been rather accepting toward different religions and the diverse religious denominations. Discrimination does exist, however, and lately there seems to be growing interest in further dividing Ukrainian society. Having been born and raised in Ukraine, I maintain the opinion that most people will not discriminate if your religion differs from theirs. Unless of course you choose to draw attention at the wrong place and wrong time, then you might be asking for trouble.
That aside, you might be surprised to learn how many different religious groups have established their own community and cause in Ukraine.
More about Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine
Orthodoxy in Ukraine has three main branches:
- Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate
- Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate
- Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
The list below shows the most common religious faiths / denominations found within Ukraine according to membership volume listed by percentage:
- Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate - 44.2%
- Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate - 20.8%
- Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church - 11%
- Non-believers / Undefined - 9.5%
- Other - 8.4%
- Protestantism - 2.5%.
- Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church - 2.4%
- Roman Catholic Church - 1%
- Judaism - 0.1%
- Islam - 0.1%
data sets provided by Democratic Initiatives Foundation / Фонд Демократичні ініціативи
Language of Ukrainian Church Services
I'm often asked about the differences between the three Christian Orthodox churches in Ukraine. The most obvious is language used during church services. See below.
- Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate - Ukrainian and Church Slavonic language or old Kievan Rus / old Russian language spoken
- Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate - Church Slavonic language spoken
- Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church - Ukrainian language spoken
Aside from political and financial affiliations, the three denominations are vastly similar. If you, our readers have other insight you would like to offer, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Posting source links would help us all reach consensus - please be respectful of others.
Thinking about getting married in Ukraine? Regardless of your religion, be sure to check out the great info about traditions of Ukrainian weddings. You'll be glad you did.
If your girlfriend or future spouse is Christian, than you will want to review the information about church services for Ukrainian weddings.
May God bless - and one day... unite us all.