Religious scholar refutes Moscow's myth that the Russian Orthodox Church is the largest in the world
The expert announced the data of his research in the program "Detector. Religions" on the YouTube channel "DetectorUA", Religiyna Pravda reports.
So, the Russian Orthodox Church counts about 35 thousand parishes. The second place is held by the Romanian Church – just over 16 thousand. The OCU ranks second with about 7 thousand parishes.
"But if you look at the situation from the other side – in the state perspective — then Ukraine will be in the first place. In total, we have about 18 thousand Orthodox parishes. In Russia, a little more than 17, and 16 thousand in Romania. That is, if the Orthodox unite in Ukraine, we come out on top among all other countries, surpassing both Russia and Romania," Gorevoy said.
The expert analyzed that with almost similar figures in the number of churches, the population in these countries differs significantly. For Russia, this is 140 million, for Ukraine 3.5 times less – 42 million, and 2 times less for Ukraine – Romania — 20 million.
Thus, you can calculate the density of churches in these countries, that is, how many people there are per church. To do this, the religious scholar multiplied the total population of the country by the percentage of Orthodox Christians and then divided this figure by the number of churches.
"Thus, it turned out that in Russia there are more than 8,100 people per church. There are 2,300 believers in Ukraine and 1,200 in Romania"
The expert also calculated this indicator of the density of churches in the countries of Orthodox culture. The highest rate was in North Macedonia, where there are 670 people per parish. In Cyprus, there are 1,300 people per temple. Slightly more there are in neighboring Moldova – almost 1,900 people. Bulgaria has a similar situation to Ukraine - 2,200 believers. Belarus has a slightly lower density – 2,800.
"What does this mean? It means that in Russia the level of religiosity is lower because there are significantly fewer churches in relation to the population. Well, because about 8 thousand people cannot really meet their spiritual needs in one church. This is unrealistic. And our figure of 2 thousand is also unrealistic, but it is at least close to some earthly figures. This is not a cosmic 8 thousand people per parish. This figure means that in reality, these 80% of Orthodox Russians do not exist. If they existed, there wouldn't have been enough churches," Horyevoy said.
In addition, he counted the attendance of temples. As a basis for comparison, the expert used statistics on attendance at Easter services according to pre-coronavirus 2019 data.
"According to the Russian Interior Ministry, 4.3 million Russians took part in Easter 2019, while in Ukraine the number of parishioners has reached 7 million. That is, with a population difference of 3.5 times, our attendance at Easter services is almost 2 times higher," the religious scholar calculated.
Thus, Horyevoy summed up, all the talk about the Russian Orthodox Church as the world's largest Orthodox Church is a certain manipulation since they are based only on a large number of the population of the Russian Federation, who are considered Orthodox by default.
"Statistics of churches for the Moscow Patriarchate is provided by Ukraine. And if we take the breakdown by country, then Russia is in second place after Ukraine. Yes, and the density of temples is quite poor there. One church accounts for as many as 8 thousand parishioners. All this shows that bravado about the largest church in the world is clearly exaggerated and is an attempt to express wishful thinking," the religious scholar concluded.