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Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

On-line version ISSN 2412-4265
Print version ISSN 1017-0499


TOLMAY, Barry John. Turning point in Christianity: Eastern Europe in the late 20th Century. Studia Hist. Ecc. [online]. 2018, vol.44, n.3, pp.1-15. ISSN 2412-4265.

Ten years before the collapse of communism, there were warning signs that the Soviet Union's economy was becoming crippled. Soviet authorities controlled and influenced the Russian Orthodox Church and they jailed leaders of the church in all East European countries. The fall of the Berlin wall created a turning point in Christianity in 1989. More than 8 000 Russian Orthodox Churches were reopened between 1990 and 1995. The nineties could be described as a time of hope regarding religious revival in Eastern Europe. In this paradigm shift, freedom of religion became officially recognised as a basic human right and a multitude of denominations became free to compete for followers. In Prague, Cardinal Miroslav VIk had ministered clandestinely to Catholics while officially working as a window-washer during communist rule. He was known by the people as the "generous pastor." After the Velvet Revolution, he became bishop and later cardinal in the Czech Republic. In many East European countries, religion and national identity are closely entwined. According to the Pew Research Centre report on Christianity, in Eastern Europe there was a sustainable increase in religious activities from the early 1990s until 2017. The fall of the Berlin wall had a significant influence on South Africa. It helped South Africa in its democratic process. The once dominating neo-Calvinistic control of society was replaced by a new paradigm of democratic freedom and an equal religious stance by the new government elected in 1994.

Keywords : Soviet era; Czech Republic; South Africa; Pew Research Centre; Berlin wall; glasnost; perestroika; paradigm shift; religious freedom; religious revival; religion and national identity; belief in God; believing without belonging.

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