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RELIGIOUSNESS AND MORALS OF BELARUSIANS

The results of the September opinion poll gave some answers to the questions about the attitude of the population to religion, marriage, family, and alcohol and tobacco consumption.

As it follows from the data of Table 1, the overwhelming majority of Belarusians consider themselves Orthodox believers; Catholics rank second. There are comparatively few nonbelievers and atheists. These data have been changing insignificantly during the last years.

Table 1. Dynamics of answering the question about religion, %

Variant of answer

03’99

03’03

12’09

09’10

Orthodox

59.7

74.5

78.5

78.8

Catholic

9.8

12.7

13.1

11.1

Protestant (Lutheran, Pentecostal, Baptist, Adventist and so on)

0.5

1.4

0.6

0.7

Muslim

0.4

0.4

0.1

Jew

0.1

0.1

0.2

0.1

Other religion

0.4

0.4

0.9

0.3

Nonbeliever / atheist

7.5

10.2

6.1

8.8

NA

11.2

0.3

0.2

0.1

However, religion does not occupy any significant place in the life of the majority of Belarusians: frequent church visits are rather a rarity than a rule (Table 2).

Table 2. Dynamics of answering the question: “How often do you go to church?”, %

Variant of answer

03’03

12’09

09’10

Every day

0.5

0.7

0.5

Several times a week

2.5

2.0

3.0

Once a week

7.8

7.0

7.5

Once a month

12.6

12.7

13.5

Several times a year

46.6

48.9

46.0

I do not go at all

29.3

28.2

29.5

As it can be seen from Table 3, among Christian confessions the Orthodox are the least inclined to go to church frequently.

Table 3. Connection between belonging to a confession and frequency of church attendance, %

Variant of answer

The Orthodox

The Catholics

The Protestants

Once a week and more often

8.2

34.9

63.6

Once a month

14

20.1

27.3

Several times a year

53.1

30.8

9.1

I do not go at all

24.7

14.2

0

The data of Table 4 give an idea about the socio-demographic characteristics of the population versus church attendance frequency as an indicator of religiousness.

Table 4. Religiousness versus some socio-demographic characteristics*, %

Variant of answer

“How often do you go to church?”

Daily

Several times a week

Once a week

Once a month

Several times a year

I do not go at all

Gender:
Male

0

2.1

3.8

8.6

39.5

46.0

Female

0.9

3.8

10.6

17.6

51.8

15.4

Age:
18-30

0.6

0.9

6.9

10.1

50.6

31.0

31-59

0.4

2.7

6.5

13.5

47.6

29.3

60 and older

0.5

5.9

10.4

16.5

38.3

28.5

Education:
Primary

1.6

14.3

20.6

12.7

17.5

33.3

Incomplete secondary

1.1

3.7

6.9

14.9

36.2

37.2

Secondary

0.3

3.3

6.7

12.4

45.2

32.1

Vocational

0.2

1.8

7.7

14.4

51

24.8

Higher

0.4

0.8

6.3

13.4

54.3

24.8

* The table is read across

As it can be seen, women are noticeably more pious than men. A certain connection with age can also be traced, although it is weaker than in case of gender – people of the advanced age go to church more often than the young. Connection with education is more complicated: the share of those who attend church frequently is smaller among educated people. However, the share of those who do not go to church at all is smaller among them, too. Attendance of church once a year is the most widespread position among the better educated.

The data of Tables 5 and 6 describe disposition of Belarusians towards obsessive habits – smoking and consumption of alcohol.

Table 5. Distribution of answers to the question: “Do you smoke?”

Variant of answer

%

No

61.4

Yes

38.2

Table 6. Dynamics of answering the question: “How often do you consume alcoholic beverages (including beer)?”, %

Variant of answer

06’06

09’10

Daily

1.3

1.0
Several times a week

10.1

11.1

Several times a month

35.8

35.4

Several times a year

30.4

33.1

I do not at all consume them

18.5

19.4

As it can be seen, propensity for drinking alcohol has not virtually changed for more than 4 years; deviations inside each position are within the bounds of the coverage error.

Dependence of obsessive habits on socio-demographic characteristics, religiousness and political preferences is of some interest, too (Table 7).

Table 7. Connection of smoking and alcohol consuming with socio-demographic characteristics, religiousness and political preferences*, %

Variant of answer Smokers

“How often do you consume alcohol?”

Daily

Several times a week

Several times a month

Several times a year

I do not at all consume it

Gender:
Male

59.6

1.6

18.6

46.4

24.4

9.0

Female

19.6

0.5

4.6

25.9

40.5

28.4

Age:
18-30

49.6

0.9

13.8

42.1

31.7

11.5

31-59

43.1

1.1

13.4

40.2

33.3

11.9

60 and older

16.8

0.8

3.5

18.9

33.9

42.9

Education:
Primary

20.3

0

7.8

9.4

32.8

50.0

Incomplete secondary

25.3

2.6

5.8

23.3

30.2

38.1

Secondary

47.8

1.4

15.2

37.2

30.2

16.0

Vocational

37.9

0.5

9.1

40.4

36.1

13.9

Higher

31.0

0

9.8

38.2

37.0

15.0

How often do you go to church?

Once a week and more often

17.3

0.6

5.4

26.8

31.0

36.3

Once a month

15.1

0.5

2.9

26.3

47.3

22.9

Several times a year

37.4

0.6

7.3

37.0

37.6

17.6

I do not go at all

57.8

2.0

22.9

40.4

20.4

14.2

Do you trust the president?
Yes

28.9

0.9

7.2

29.0

36.0

26.9

No

49.7

1.1

16.3

42.1

29.1

11.4

If you had to choose between integration with Russia and joining the European Union, what choice would you make?
Integration with the Russia

31.5

1.1

8.3

29.6

33.0

28.0

Joining the EU

45.1

0.6

16.1

40.4

31.7

11.1

* The table is read across

Propensity to obsessive habits proves to be quite closely connected with gender. The second rather valid factor is religiousness, although it is also connected with gender, as it has been shown above. Connections among the variables which appear in Table 7 are rather complicated. It is not ruled out that the effect of false correlation is present in many cases. For instance, the fact that the people who do not trust the president drink more than those who do, is most probably explained not by the bigger frustrations experienced by the former and their craving for “the cure” for any sorrow. The president is more trusted by women, who are very religious people, and by those of the advanced age, and they are disposed to drinking alcohol to the least extent.

As it follows from the data of Table 8, attitude to the right to abortion has not changed during the year: a little bit less than a half of respondents support the unconditional realization of the right, approximately every fifth person supports banning it.

Table 8. Dynamics of answering the question: “Should abortions be banned in our country?”, %

Variant of answer

09’09

09’10

No, abortions should not be banned. A woman has the right to make such a decision herself

46.6

45.8

They should generally be banned; only therapeutic abortions should be allowed

20.9

22.4

Yes, abortions should be banned

20.5

19.3

As the data of Table 9 show, the public opinion in our country is not in favor of a family with few children: more than a half of Belarusians advocated the idea that a family should have several children, whereas only every eighth respondent supported a family with one child or no children at all.

Table 9. Distribution of answers to the question: “How many children should a family have, in your opinion?”

Variant of answer

%

One child

9.1

Several children

51.5

As many, as God will give

29.9

It is better without children

3.0

Table 10. Distribution of answers to the question: “What type of relations seems the best to you in order to create a family?”

Variant of answer

%

Marriage blessed in church

8.1

Marriage registered in a registry office

35.1

Marriage blessed in church and registered in a registry office

40.4

De facto marriage (living together)

10.1

I do not need a family

2.1

The data of Table 10 are a visual proof of the relatively high ritual religiousness of Belarusians: almost a half of respondents consider that marriage should be blessed in church. At that, the institution of marriage blessed either by the state or by church remains quite firm in the life of Belarusians–only 10% of respondents preferred marriage de facto.

However, the institution of same-sex marriage finds support among a rather insignificant share of respondents with the overwhelming majority treating the innovation in the negative way (Table 11).

Table 11. Distribution of answers to the question: “In some countries homosexual marriages (a union of two men or two women) are legalized. And what is your attitude to the official recognition of such marriages in Belarus?”

Variant of answer

%

Negative

71.6

Indifferent

23.1

Positive

3.7

Connection of answers about families and children with some socio-demographic characteristics, religiousness and political preferences is presented in Tables 12-15.

As it follows from Table 12, in contrast to the situation with religiousness connection with gender is virtually absent in respect of the right to abortion. However, attitude to this right turns out to be generally connected with characteristics determining adherence to conservative or liberal values: people with a high level of education, of young and middle age, of lesser religiousness, those who do not rust A. Lukashenko and prefer Euro-integration of Belarus, are more inclined to support the unconditional right to abortion.

Table 12. Connection of the attitude to abortions with socio-demographic characteristics, religiousness and political preferences*, %

Variant of answer

“Should abortions be banned in our country?”

Yes, abortions should be banned They should generally be banned; only therapeutic abortions should be allowed No, abortions should not be banned. A woman has the right to make such a decision herself

DA

Gender:
Male

17.0

20.4

47.6

15.0

Female

19.8

21.8

50.5

7.9

Age:
18-30

14.1

22.4

51.8

11.8

31-59

14.1

21.3

53.0

11.6

60 and older

36.3

19.4

32.3

12.1

Education:
Primary

41.5

17.0

24.5

17

Incomplete secondary

60.9

4.3

26.1

8.7

Secondary

15.9

18.3

50.0

15.9

Vocational

16.3

20.1

53.6

10.0

Higher

11.6

27.1

52.2

9.2

How often do you go to church?
Once a week and more often

48.8

26.3

17.5

7.5

Once a month

29.8

25.0

38.1

7.1

Several times a year

12.6

23.4

54.2

9.8

I do not go at all

9.7

14.1

58.3

18.0

Do you trust the president?
Yes

26.4

24.3

41.0

8.3

No

13.5

17.5

52.9

16.2

If you had to choose between integration with Russia and joining the European Union, what choice would you make?
Integration with the Russia

27.1

20.8

41.6

10.4

Joining the EU

13.3

23.2

53.3

10.2

* The table is read across

Attitude of men and women to the question of the number of children in the family is quite similar; however, among women the religious motivation “As many, as God will give” is more common (Table 13). The same motivation is also peculiar to a half of the advanced age respondents. At the same time, the young stick to such strategy of family planning more seldom than other age groups, and more often than representatives of older ages–to the formula “one child”. The situation with education and religiousness resembles the above mentioned one: educated people and those who do not attend church adhere to the “As many, as God will give” strategy to the least extent, and to the greatest extent–to “one child” and “several children”. Religious motivation is also closer to supporters of the president and adherents of Belarus integration with Russia.

Table 13. Connection of the desirable number of children with socio-demographic characteristics, religiousness and political preferences*, %

Variant of answer

“How many children should a family have, in your opinion?”

One child

Several children

As many, as God will give

It is better without children

DA/NA

Gender:
Male

9.3

52.4

25.5

2.8

9.9

Female

8.9

49.8

34.7

1.0

5.6

Age:
18-30

16.5

48.2

24.7

3.5

7.1

31-59

9.6

54.1

25.1

2.0

9.2

60 and older

2.4

42.7

50.0

0.8

4.0

Education:
Primary

5.7

34

56.6

3.8

0

Incomplete secondary

4.3

39.1

47.8

0

8.7

Secondary

9.8

45.1

29.9

1.2

14.0

Vocational

10.5

54.5

24.4

2.4

8.1

Higher

8.7

58.5

26.1

1.9

4.8

How often do you go to church?
Once a week and more often

2.5

32.5

61.3

1.3

2.5

Once a month

6.0

35.7

57.1

0

1.2

Several times a year

7.3

63.6

21.7

1.0

6.3

I do not go at all

15.5

47.6

17.5

4.4

15.0

Do you trust the president?
Yes

7.3

45.1

42.7

0.7

4.2

No

10.8

52.9

20.9

3.7

11.8

If you had to choose between integration with Russia and joining the European Union, what choice would you make?
Integration with the Russia

7.2

46.2

36.2

1.8

8.6

Joining the EU

8.8

57.2

24.9

2.8

6.3

* The table is read across

Among men the shares of supporters of marriage registration in a registry office as well as of living together are noticeably larger (Table 14). On the other hand, connection with age is not unambiguous: blessing of marriage in church is mainly preferred by respondents of the advanced age, but at the same time it is also very popular among young people. An obvious and quite strong connection is observed as far as religiousness is concerned. The large number (20%) of supporters of marriage de facto among those who do not attend church is quite impressive. Trust in the president, just as in other questions, conditions a more conservative approach–commitment to the marriage blessed by the church and a weaker inclination to living together. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the number of marriage de facto supporters is noticeably above zero in all the groups under consideration.

Table 14. Connection of the desirable marital union status with socio-demographic characteristics, religiousness and political preferences*, %

Variant of answer

“What type of relations seems the best to you in order to create a family?”

Marriage blessed in church Marriage registered in a registry office Marriage blessed in church and registered in a registry office De facto marriage (living together)

I do not need a family

Gender:
Male

5.7

38.0

32.3

16.4

2.3

Female

11.6

30.7

47.2

6.6

0.7

Age:
18-30

8.2

29.4

41.2

11.8

4.7

31-59

7.2

37.1

35.3

13.9

1.3

60 and older

12.9

29.0

51.6

4.8

0

Education:
Primary

13.2

24.5

50.9

9.4

0

Incomplete secondary

26.1

8.7

47.8

8.7

0

Secondary

9.8

33.5

36.6

15.2

1.8

Vocational

5.3

42.6

33.0

12.0

1.9

Higher

7.2

32.9

43.5

10.1

1.4

How often do you go to church?
Once a week and more often

16.3

10.0

61.3

7.5

2.5

Once a month

14.3

25.0

57.1

2.4

0

Several times a year

6.6

37.4

43.0

9.8

0.3

I do not go at all

5.3

44.2

18.0

20.4

3.4

Do you trust the president?
Yes

11.1

27.1

51.0

8.3

0.7

No

6.1

37.0

31.3

16.2

2.4

If you had to choose between integration with Russia and joining the European Union, what choice would you make?
Integration with the Russia

11.3

28.5

45.2

9.0

1.4

Joining the EU

6.7

39.6

36.5

11.9

1.1

* The table is read across

Table 15. Connection of same-sex marriages’ legalization with socio-demographic characteristics, religiousness and political preferences*, %

Variant of answer

“What is your attitude to the official recognition of same-sex marriages?”

Positive

Negative

Indifferent

DA

Gender:
Male

3.1

68.8

25.8

2.3

Female

2.3

72.6

22.8

2.0

Age:
18-30

3.5

61.2

32.9

2.4

31-59

3.4

67.3

27.1

2.0

60 and older

0

88.7

8.9

2.4

Education:
Primary

0

81.1

13.2

5.7

Incomplete secondary

4.3

82.6

8.7

4.3

Secondary

2.4

64.6

29.3

3.7

Vocational

2.9

72.7

23.4

1.0

Higher

3.4

69.1

26.1

1.0

How often do you go to church?
Once a week and more often

0

83.8

13.8

1.3

Once a month

1.2

79.8

16.7

2.4

Several times a year

1.7

74.5

22.0

1.7

I do not go at all

5.8

56.3

35.0

2.9

Do you trust the president?
Yes

1.0

79.2

17.4

2.1

No

4.7

63.0

30.3

2.0

If you had to choose between integration with Russia and joining the European Union, what choice would you make?
Integration with the Russia

2.7

78.3

16.3

2.7

Joining the EU

4.2

63.5

30.2

1.8

* The table is read across

Belarusian society is not tolerant at all to the idea of the same-sex marriages’ official recognition. In all the groups of different political views supporters the share of such marriages’ opponents is not lower than 63%, and in the groups of the advanced age and of deeply religious people the share goes beyond 80% (Table 15). The gender has virtually no influence here. Young people are a little bit more tolerant to same-sex marriages. Among the groups of different education levels respondents with secondary education are the least intolerant. Supporters of the president and integration with Russia, as in many other previous questions, demonstrate larger conservatism in this case, too; and their opponents – a somewhat larger tolerance, or rather a lesser intolerance.