Archive for the ‘new religious movements’ category

Ukrainian ‘native believers’ restore Slavic traditions at cost of neo-Nazi claims

April 19, 2011

A Sylenkoite priest preaching in a Ukrainian temple (Source: Yuri Samson, Narodna Pravda)

Transitions Online (12th April 2011) reports that there are 80 neo-pagan associations with a likely membership of 3,000 adults currently active in the Ukraine. The main vehicles for popularising neo-pagan views are magazines and rock bands. In the Ukraine, the associations describe themselves as rodnovery, or ‘native believers’, in contrast to the term ‘pagan’ which normally carries negative connotations for Ukrainians.

Magazines such as Perun, Snezhen, and Svarog carry numerous articles featuring metal bands, may of which encourage nationalism, racism and the cult of violence. Ancestral devotion is used to stir up resentment and prejudice towards those ‘not privileged to be white’. However, supporters also point to other rodnovery groups which avoid these extremist views and promote the rule of nature and the pagan gods, pointing to their essentially peaceful co-existence with humankind and nature.

Some rodnovery pagan shrines have been attacked in recent years, following the movement’s resurgence after the demise of communism and official prohibition. Local Orthodox priests are usually suspected. The rodnovery movement’s recognised ‘wise man’ or magus, Svitovit Pashnyk, recently spoke out against the destruction of shrines in several locations across the Ukraine.

The Ukrainian associations are linked to similar groups in Russia and Belarus although most acknowledge the historical precedence of the Kyevian state over that of Moscovy and consequently international meetings tend to favour the Ukraine as the location of choice. Most rodnovery claim that their civilisation dates to over 7,500 years ago and that long before the rise of Mesopotamian states, the white race had spread from the Carpathians to the River Don.

For further information there is also a short piece on the Ukraine in the wikipedia article on Slavic neo-paganism.

Norwegian belief and Ice Age 2

April 11, 2011

The percentage of Norwegians who claim to attend church at least once a month has declined over the last ten years from 11 to 7% of the population, according to the Norwegian BAR magazine. During the same period, the percentage of self-described ‘atheists’ has increased from 10 to 18%. The percentage of children being baptised has fallen from 81% in 2000 to 68% in 2009. Figures from the Norwegian Research Institute, KIFO, indicate that while 81% of the Norwegian population remain in membership of the Norwegian (Lutheran) Church, this figure falls to 72% among the 20-30 year olds. However, census figures returned to the Church in March 2011, showed that the average Church of Norway member went to church once a year in 2010, that in 2010, 78% of Norwegians were church members, 66% had their children baptised, and confirmations had declined from 68.3% in 2000 to 64.9% in 2010. The percentage of Norwegians opting for a Church funeral was 91.1% in 2010.

In their book ‘Religion in Norway today: between secularism and secularisation’ Ulla Schmidt and Pål Ketil Botvar, point to the significant numbers of Norwegian young people who are leaving the Church for new religious movements. Meanwhile, and lending support to europeanmission’s own pan-European research (download from here), there is a noticeably low level of religious orientation and activity among 55-65 year olds. Botvar comments ‘This group has been vaccinated against religion.’

Consequently, the opinion shapers for the last ten to fifteen years in the media, education and government appear to have been active secularists and it may be that children and young people are gaining most of their religious impressions from the globalised entertainment industry.

Norwegian Professors, Liv Lied and Dag Øistein Endsjø, responsible for a book on religion and popular culture in Norway, suggest that Norwegian young people are far more likely to have learnt about ‘a ship that rescues animals from a flood’ from Ice Age 2 than from the book of Genesis. Consequently the religious preferences of many young people are drawn from popular culture and not the traditional teaching of the church. The authors argues that the Church has to understand popular culture in order to know how best to communicate with and disciple young people today. Equally importantly, the authors describe religious identity in Norway as something that is built according to personal choices and preferences – the Church cannot assume that it’s dogmatic teachings are being accepted without challenge or adaptation.

The willingness of the Norwegian church to adapt does not seem to be an issue, rather it seems to be a failure of the Church to understand what kind of religious identity and experience Norwegians want and how best to address that with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.