Prayer vigil in defense of the faith, April 22


Date of publication: 04.26.2012

The independent research service SREDA presents the results of a survey of 219 participants in the prayer vigil in defense of the faith, desecrated shrines, and the Church and its good name, which took place in front of the Christ the Savior Cathedral on April 22, 2012.

See our previous news release to find out what wishes the participants in the prayer vigil had for Patriarch Kirill.

Who came? Higher education, good mood, weekly church attendance

1. Almost two thirds of those came to the prayer vigil are women (63%), and more than a third are men (37%). Half of the participants are older than 45 (55%), and only one out of ten is under the age of 25 (10%). 2. High level of education: 70% of the participants have completed college (54%), some college (10%), or a doctorate degree (6%). 3. The majority of the participants are of the middle class. There were also people with high incomes at the prayer vigil: 10% of the respondents can afford to buy their own apartment. Meanwhile, 3% do not have enough money for food, and 15% do not have enough for clothes and footwear. 4. By education, most of the participants in the prayer vigil are engineers (15%), educators (12%), and economists or accountants (11%). One out of five participants is a nonworking pensioner (22%). There were approximately equal numbers of students (6%) and housewives (5%). Also, 4% were temporarily unemployed, and the remaining participants were all employed. 5. Participants in the prayer vigil use the Internet (56%) more often than they watch television (43%). Also, 38% indicated that they regularly read newspapers and magazines, and 32% listen to the radio nearly every day. 6. Respondents regularly attend religious services: 60% go to church every week, and another 21% go to church every month. The more active church members are the poorest and the richest participants in the prayer vigil, and also those of age 55–56; gender was not a factor in church attendance.

How did they feel? “Thoughts turned to Heaven”

1. More than half of the respondents (52%) described their emotional state as Easterly and enthusiastic (41%) or good and positive (11%). The most “happy” group was those from age 55 to 64. 2. Twelve percent of the respondents experienced a strong sense of unity with other members of the Russian Orthodox Church and were delighted by the large number of participants. 3. Peaceful or “usual” described the mood of 9% of the participants. 4. Only 8% of the respondents experienced negative emotions, such as anger, indignation, or rage. 5. Interestingly, the amount of “happiness” of the respondents who took the survey after the prayer vigil did not differ from that of respondents surveyed before the prayer vigil.

Where did they find out about the prayer vigil? Flyers and a television interview versus the Internet

1. More than a third of the participants (36%) found out about the prayer vigil from flyers distributed in the churches at Easter. 2. Approximately equal numbers of respondents indicated that the learned about the prayer vigil through the television interview with the Holy Patriarch (21%) and through the Internet (22%). 3. Interestingly, more men than women found out about the prayer vigil via the Internet, whereas flyers and the television interview attracted equal numbers of people of both genders.

 Why did they come? Not a political rally, but a group prayer

1. One fourth of the respondents (24%) participated in the prayer vigil because “I am a Russian Orthodox believer”—this was the most common answer. One tenth (12%) described their reasons for participating as “My duty,” “I could not do otherwise,” and “Who else if not me.” 2. Seven percent of the respondents came to the prayer vigil for reasons of patriotism, respect for the memory of their ancestors, and feelings of responsibility to Russia and to pray about the fate of the country. 3. Some of the respondents came to express their support for the Russian Orthodox Church (14%) and Patriarch Kirill (3%). Interestingly, participants in the prayer vigil who experienced negative emotions were more likely than others to be there for that reason. 4. Finally, a group of respondents participated in the prayer vigil to defend the Church and the faith (3%) and to resist vandalism and blasphemy (6%). 5. Also, 6% came to “feel unified with the believers.”

What is the main reason for attacks on the Church? Atheism and unbelief

1. One fourth of the respondents (25%) thought that attacks on the Church were due to the spiritual and moral decline of contemporary Russian society: one out of ten respondents (12%) named atheism and unbelief as a reason for this decline, and 13% pointed to the decline of morality and ethics, especially among the youth. Another 4% named a general decline in the country as the reason. 2. One out of five (22%) see “the intrigues of the enemies” as the reason for the increasingly frequent attacks on the Church. These enemies, according to respondents, first and foremost consisted of “Masons,” followed by “Jews,” “USA,” “foreign countries,” and “rich people.” Most often men were the ones to name this reason. Four percent indicated that the attacks were caused by propaganda in the mass media. 3. Some of the respondents thought that the attacks were provoked by the strengthening of the Church (5%) and growth in the number of believers (4%). 4. Also, 3% indicated that the attacks on the Church might have been due to its interference in politics. 5. Finally, 6% of respondents pointed to the powers of darkness and the battle between good and evil as the reason.

Should the Church change? Yes, answered one third of the participants

1. The majority of the respondents were opposed to changes in the Church (68%); respondents who experienced negative emotions denied the need for change more frequently than those who were positive or calm. The latter, by contrast, were more likely to be proponents of change. 2. Those who were for change (32%) pointed to the need for the Church to be closer to people and to appeal to them (5% of the total number of respondents). 3. Six percent of the respondents stated that the Church needs to strengthen its role in society and in the government, whereas 3% stated that Church must become apolitical. 4. Four percent of the respondents raised the issue of corruption and the greed of the priests. 5. Finally, one more request—for the renewal and development of the Church (including in regard to information policies)—was made by 6% of the respondents.

Facts about the participants in the prayer vigil

1. Opinions about the Church are formed based on personal communication, not based on the mass media

The opinions of the majority of the participants in the prayer vigil are practically independent of the position of the mass media: 63% of participants based their impression of the Church on personal communication with representatives of the clergy, whereas the mass media influenced only 12% of the respondents. Also, only 12% of the respondents had difficulties in finding information about the faith and the Church.

2. Social tasks for the Church: work with the youth and moral assessment of what is happening in society

Participants in the prayer vigil consider work with the youth (65%), moral assessment of what is happening in society (63%), and work in the field of education (58%) to be the tasks of the Church that are the most important and useful for society. One third of the participants consider such tasks as “participation in the drafting of legislation” (33%) to be among the most important, and one third—“work in the media” (29%).

3. Trusted Russian Orthodox mass media outlets: Radio Radonezh (15%), canal “Soyuz” (10%), and canal “Spas” (6%)

In answer to the question “What Russian Orthodox mass media outlets do you trust the most?” participants also mentioned the websites,, and and the journals Foma and Neskuchny Sad. A significant number of respondents (12%) indicated their trust in Internet resources in general, although the leading types of mass media outlets are television (15%), followed by Russian Orthodox journals (12%), and finally, Russian Orthodox radio canals (10%).

4. Trusted authors: Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov, and Archdeakon Andrei Kuraev

To the question “Are there authors who write about questions of faith that are particularly interesting and close to you?” 12% of the respondents answered no. One third (34%) answered yes but could not remember the authors’ names. The remaining respondents named Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov (13%), Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov (9%), Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev, the priest Daniil Sysoev (5%), and the holy Patriarch Kirill (4%) as authors that they trust.

5. Prognosis about life in Russia: will it become better or worse?

Opinions about what life in Russia will be like in the coming years were fairly evenly divided: 30% believed that it will become better, 27% that it will become worse, and another 27% did not respond. The remaining 10% think that life in Russia will not change in the next few years. The most wealthy participants were more likely to think that life in Russia would become better, and those who rarely attended church were more likely to think that it would become worse, among those older than 65. Almost half of the respondents up to age 24 did not respond.

Photographs taken from the site

Experts’ Commentaries on the Survey Results

The priest Tigriy Hachatryan, head of the missionary department of the Kursk and Rila diocese

The Russian Orthodox Church members have become somewhat modernized

The survey by the independent research service SREDA has once again confirmed that the Russian Orthodox Church members have become somewhat modernized and as a whole quite appropriately evaluate the situation of the relationship between the church and society. However, as before, modern parish life is predominantly characterized by women, and we are still inclined to search for outside enemies, Masons, and other foes of the Church in Russia and disinclined to look at ourselves and our own mistakes. The good news is that a third of the participants nevertheless talked about the need for change in the Church, the need for changes where changes ought to be made, that, as it seems to be generally understood, the pastors and Archbishop need to express closeness to the people.

Sergey Shargunov, writer

The Church deserves the right to be independent

The Church deserves the right to be independent. The hierarchs could well leave behind all the politics in order to talk about urgent problems. The poor and the suffering that come for help need the Church—helping them is what is required of the Church, and it is something the Church is able to do. Of course, the line between specific demands to the hierarchy and the blind attacks on the Church is generally very blurred. The solution is simple: honesty. Honesty and independence.

Ieromonah Makariy (Markish), teacher at the Ivano-Voznesyenskaya spiritual seminary

Thank God: I was in Moscow on April 22 and prayed at the Christ the Savior Cathedral

To be honest, I did not want to go. Conducting a prayer service at my own church with my own congregation is a natural and good thing to do, but what is the point in traveling hundreds of kilometers to some “mass gathering”? Does the intelligibility of prayer depend on the accumulation of people? . . . It turns out that it depends. I knew this, but I had forgotten it. And I thank our diocesan Bishop, who appointed me to be the leader of one of the buses with pilgrims and thus reminded me of a simple fact: there is no “intelligibility” of prayer. Prayer does not go to bring an intelligible message to the Lord God: He is not sitting on a cloud and waiting until we ask Him for something. He knows everything about us, and He loves us more than anybody can imagine. He dies so that we may live. And it is not He that needs our prayer, but it is WE who need prayer in order to be partakers of eternal life. Thank God: I was in Moscow on April 22 and prayed at the Christ the Savior Cathedral, which was destroyed by Satanists and rose from obscurity. I experienced the grace, joy, and power of communal prayer and shared it with all of the sixty-five thousand believers who had gathered here, from the Patriarch to the newborn baby whose parents had no one to leave him with. I am grateful to them all, and I felt gratitude, solidarity, and loyalty. That is all that needs to be said about the participants in the prayer vigil, their aspirations, and their attitudes. . . . The only other question is whether the Church ought to change, and if so, how. The answer is self-evident and was once again confirmed by this prayer service: naturally, the Church must change, and it does change. Through the prayers and practical efforts of each member and of the church body as a whole, the Church facilitates REPENTANCE—i.e., liberation from sins of fearfulness, indifference, irresponsibility, superstition, ignorance, and stubbornness.


Male 37%
Female 63%


Some high school 5%
High school/Trade school 25%
Some college 10%
College 54%
Doctorate degree 6%

 Economic conditions

Not enough money, even for food 3%
Enough money for food, but not enough for clothes and footwear 16%
Enough money for clothes and footwear, but not enough for household appliances 21%
Enough money for household appliances, but not enough for a car 32%
Enough money for a car, but not enough for an apartment or a house 18%
Enough money for everything, including an apartment or a house 10%


Up to 24 10%
From 25 to 34 17%
From 35 to 44 18%
From 45 to 54 18%
From 55 to 64 23%
65 and older 14%

Emotional state:

  • “Thoughts turned to Heaven”
  • “Joy in the Lord”
  • “They had better not touch our Russia”
  • “Keenly Russian Orthodox”
  • “Seeing the mutilated icons—sorrowful and serious”
  • “All the participants are like one soul, one in heart”
  • “Righteous anger”
  • “Unsatisfied with the mass media’s approach to the Church”
  • “Resemble the demonstration on May 1”
  • “Feel split: I cry and I rejoice”
  • “Guilt before the Lord, the people lack faith”
  • “Easter joy”
  • “See that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass”
  • “Responsibility to Russia”
  • “Happy that the Church is ready to fight rather than be passive. Happy to hear the sincere words of the Patriarch; now I understand that he still wishes Russia well, even after the abominable way he has been treated”
  • “Worry about increased aggressiveness”
  • “We will conquer”
  • “Pride that we are gathered together”
  • “Shock of admiration”
  • “Spring”

Where did you find out about the prayer vigil?

A flyer at the church at Easter

The television interview with the Holy Patriarch on Canal One.

The Internet

From acquaintances


More men than women found out about the prayer vigil online, and more women than men found out about it from acquaintances.

Those who were up to 24 years old and those between 45 and 54 years old were the ones that most often found out about the prayer vigil on the Internet.

Those who attend religious services found out about the prayer vigil mainly on the Internet or from acquaintances.

Where did you find out about the prayer vigil (other)?

At the church

Radio Radonezh

Mass media

The delegation of pilgrims

Reasons for participating in the prayer vigil

Without Russian orthodoxy, there is no Russia

To pray that a schism may be avoided

Because while the Russian Orthodox faith lives, Russia is unconquerable

Because I am against the Orange Revolution

I like the current state of the Church

On assignment from the editorial office

To confess and partake of the sacrament

Because the faith and the church need to be defended

I support the Patriarch and feel sorry for the girls

Who else if not me?

Russian orthodoxy is Russia’s line of defense

The Church is the foundation of the government; we should defend it

I do not want the history of the 20th century to be repeated; it is painful to see the attack on faith and desecration of shrines

Love for God, the fatherland, and the church

To pray collectively for understanding

Patriotic duty; Russian orthodoxy is dying out among the people

To support Christianity, Russian orthodoxy, and the Creator

I dreamed about the Patriarch and he called me to come

Reasons for attacks on the Church

The enemy cannot accept that the Church plays an increasingly greater role in society

The Church is the stronghold of Russia, which enemies are trying to destroy

The Church supported the current government

The Church supported Putin

The authorities are looking for extremists

Propaganda in the mass media; the leaders are not Russian Orthodox

Fulfillment of the plan to destroy Russia, since the foundation of Russia is Russian orthodoxy

Redivision of the world; America is fighting for resources

Each culture’s aspiration to dominate in the world

Depravity in television programs and unbelief on the Internet



They have begun playing

As always, anti-God hatred toward Christ

That we are many and that we love our fatherland

The unrestrained nature of the Internet and isolated reasons for provocation

The people has not yet grasped what freedom means

The Russian Orthodox Church has turned into a ministry of religion and culture

The absence of tolerance, combined with a fatalistic point of view

The Russian Orthodox Church is the foundation of the Russian Federation; to destroy the Church is to destroy Russia

Which changes would it be worth it for the Church to implement

It should remain as the Church that was established by Christ and change as an institution

More actively participate in strengthening Russia

Progress affects the structure

Defend the interests of the Russian Orthodox Church members and show that there are many millions of us—we are strong, and God and Mary the Mother of God are with us

It should remain a religious church and should not interfere with politics; it should remain holy, united, and apostolic

Should be more active among those who are baptized but “unchurched”

More actively work with schools and institutions of higher education

Should be not merely a social instrument, but a mother to the people

Should stop the changes that are currently going on and not turn icons into pictures

Preserve the foundations, use Slavic language in religious services, not shorten the services, be responsible in preaching and in fasting

Confirmation of the old foundations

We need to go to church and not try to make it come to us

Strengthen the missionary program and prayer in the Lord a thousand times

The hierarchy and the priests should go out among the people and be apostles of love and carry faith to the people

Become more prayerful, not be satisfied with Catholicism

In the church, old women should not dominate by shouting at the young people

Developments in accordance with modern tendencies

The Church is already changing, and that is good

Комментарии экспертов к итогам опроса

(Русский) Священник Тигрий Хачатрян, руководитель миссионерского отдела Курской и Рыльской епархии

Православная церковная публика немного осовременилась

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(Русский) Сергей Шаргунов, Писатель

Церковь заслужила право быть самостоятельной

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(Русский) Иеромонах Макарий (Маркиш), Преподаватель Ивано-Вознесенской Духовной семинарии

Слава Богу: я был в Москве 22 апреля, я молился у Храма Христа Спасителя, восставшего из небытия

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