Do you know that Lithuania, amongst all European countries, is the last country to adopt Christianity? Interested to learn more interesting information regarding the religions in Lithuania? This post is for you! Aside from learning about the Lithuanian language, mastering its religion can seriously help you out.
Lithuania is a country in north-eastern Europe and is a part of the Baltic region. Just like other European countries, Christianity is widely popular in said country, but it is also the home of so many people embracing other religions. The Soviet occupation from 1940 to 1990 in Lithuania had a big impact on the status of religion in this country due to their anti-religion beliefs. The occupation brought a wave of irreligious people (some even consider them to be radical atheism) and also the number of religious services workers decline. Despite all that, the people are familiar with being a multi-religious country since the 19th century. Do you know about the other religions in Lithuania?
The Lithuanians have the freedom of religion, based on the Constitutions of Lithuania. That also means they value human rights towards religions and beliefs and it is prohibited by the country’s law to discriminate against people based on religion. Let’s explore the different religions in Lithuania in this post.
Just like in the Philippines, Lithuania is home to people who are mainly Roman Catholic. Since the 14th century, religion has been the main religion in the country; this is why Christianity is a big part of Lithuanian culture. Aside from serving the religion, priests also participated in various social and political activities in the past.
While Lithuania does not have a state religion, the laws typically allow public institutions to promote religion as long as the support is commensurate to the number of religious believers in the area, as I have mentioned above.
Because Catholicism has the largest adherents practically everywhere in Lithuania, it has semi-official status in several areas, so Lithuania is unofficially a Roman Catholic Country. One of the examples would be the focus on Catholicism on TV during the festive season.
In Lithuania, Roman Catholicism survived both the Reformation that happened in the 16th century and the Russian Empire’s church closures in the 19th century. From 1940 to 1990, the church supported the anti-soviet movement and published the “Chronicles of the Catholic Church,” which detailed Lithuanian oppression. Catholicism was a major factor in resisting Soviet control. As a result, the Catholic church in Lithuania has developed a reputation as a “defender of truth and human freedoms,” which is not what you find common in the West.
In tiny towns and villages all over Lithuania, you can see many tall complex churches, as well as wooden churches, screaming classic church architecture. Most of them date from the early twentieth century when the ban of new Catholic churches (by the Russian Imperial)was lifted.
The second-largest faith in Lithuania is affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church. It is followed by mostly ethnic minorities, to be specific, the Russians. Lithuanian orthodox church does not exist, unlike many other countries that have their orthodox churches; instead, the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow has direct control over all Orthodox Church buildings.
Vilnius, the multi-religious Grand Duchy of Lithuania’s capital for centuries, has had Orthodox churches from the 14th century. However, after the Russian Empire annexed Lithuania in 1795, this faith only spread to the rest of the country. The Czarist strategy of Russification brought enormous domed churches to the new wide squares and straight roads, and Orthodox churches now outnumber Roman Catholic churches in Vilnius’ 19th-century neighborhoods. Every important Lithuanian town in the nineteenth century had its Orthodox church.
Interestingly, because there are usually no Lithuanian language and words in an Orthodox church, you may feel as if you’ve been transported to a region further east. Even tourism signages are usually only available in Russian and English. There is no non-Russian version of the Orthodox Church of Lithuania’s website.
Even though Roman Catholic Church stayed as the dominant religion, in the history of Lithuania there are two active Protestant denominations: Calvinism and Lutheranism. Both the Calvinist and Evangelical Lutheran groups had a very small number.
The Lithuanian Evangelical Lutheran Church is the Lutheran church that the protestants in Lithuania belong to. Lutheranism in Lithuania came from Livonia and East Prussia back in the 16th century, both were German-controlled areas.
Meanwhile, the Lithuanian Evangelical Reformed Church is a part of the Calvinist denomination in Lithuania. It was founded in 1557.
Most of the Old Believers community came from Russia in the late 17th century as refugees. They stay away from crowded places and settle in small villages and away from main roads and busy places. You probably should not depend on your GPS if you want to look for them, you might just end up in the middle of nowhere.
In this country, there are about 43 Old Believer churches with 0.9% of the total population are affiliated with the faith. The majority of the churches are in the Auktaitija region, with a few near Dzkija.
Like with Asian countries such as Thailand and Vietnam, Islam has a lengthy history in Lithuania. Muslims, particularly the Crimean Tatars, were allowed to settle in the southern areas by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Under the administration of Grand Duke Vytautas, some people from those territories were relocated to ethnically Lithuanian lands, which are recognized today as the Republic of Lithuania. The Tatars, now known as Lithuanian Tatars, have lost their language and now speak Lithuanian as a first language; yet, they have clung to their Muslim beliefs.
The origins of the Lithuanian Jewish community can be traced back to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. From the 18th century until the Holocaust, Lithuania was home to a substantial Jewish society and a significant center of Jewish scholarship and culture.
The Jews made a comeback recently in Lithuania. You can find Jews dressed in traditional Orthodox clothing, mostly near the synagogue at prayer times.
The Karaite faith is the smallest of Lithuania’s traditional religions, with only 290 followers. Many Jews regard Lithuanian Karaism to be a kind of Judaism, although its followers have long considered themselves to be of a separate belief.
One of the differences they have compared to Judaism is that they do not believe in Bible commentary as divine. They learn the Old Testament, the Ten Commandments specifically, themselves.
Lithuania was Europe’s last pagan nation, officially turning to Christianity in the late 14th century. Romuva, a neo-pagan organization founded in 1967, aims to rebuild and reinvigorate Lithuanian ethnic religion.
Religions In Lithuania
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