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Religion in Ukraine - Denominations & Acceptance

Religion in Ukraine - Denominations & Acceptance

March 25, 2016

Most foreigners already understand that the dominant religion in Ukraine is Christian Orthodoxy. Although true, most don't realize or understand the variation that exists within the denominations found in different regions. To this day, I'm amazed at the lack of general knowledge that many Ukrainian citizens have when discussing Christian Orthodox religion. So very often, discussion related to the origin and division of Ukrainian Christianity leads to feverish remarks that are in fact very ... un-Christian.

This phenomenon is the result of divide and conquer at its finest. Maybe we should, for now, focus on simple facts and numbers. Let's have a look at the current state of Ukrainian religion, shall we?

Law About Religion in Ukraine

According to Article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine, every Ukrainian citizen has a right to freedom of religion. This right shall include freedom to practice any religion in Ukraine or not to profess any, to freely perform religious rites and rituals in groups or personally, and to live a religious life.

Public Acceptance

From my own experiences, I've found that most Ukrainians had always been rather accepting toward different religions and the diverse religious denominations. Discrimination does exist, however, and lately there seems to be growing interest in further dividing Ukrainian society. Having been born and raised in Ukraine, I maintain the opinion that most people will not discriminate if your religion differs from theirs. Unless of course you choose to draw attention at the wrong place and wrong time, then you might be asking for trouble.

That aside, you might be surprised to learn how many different religious groups have established their own community and cause in Ukraine.

More about Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine

As of January 2015, 67.4% of Ukrainians claim to be of Orthodox Christian faith.

Orthodoxy in Ukraine has three main branches:

  • Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate
  • Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate
  • Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

Kyevo-Pecherska Lavra

The list below shows the most common religious faiths / denominations found within Ukraine according to membership volume listed by percentage:

  • Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate - 44.2%
  • Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate - 20.8%
  • Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church - 11%
  • Non-believers / Undefined - 9.5%
  • Other - 8.4%
  • Protestantism - 2.5%.
  • Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church - 2.4%
  • Roman Catholic Church - 1%
  • Judaism - 0.1%
  • Islam - 0.1%

data sets provided by Democratic Initiatives Foundation / Фонд Демократичні ініціативи 

Language of Ukrainian Church Services

I'm often asked about the differences between the three Christian Orthodox churches in Ukraine. The most obvious is language used during church services. See below.

  • Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate -  Ukrainian and Church Slavonic language or old Kievan Rus / old Russian language spoken
  • Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate - Church Slavonic language spoken
  • Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church - Ukrainian language spoken

Aside from political and financial affiliations, the three denominations are vastly similar. If you, our readers have other insight you would like to offer, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Posting source links would help us all reach consensus - please be respectful of others.

Thinking about getting married in Ukraine? Regardless of your religion, be sure to check out the great info about traditions of Ukrainian weddings. You'll be glad you did.

If your girlfriend or future spouse is Christian, than you will want to review the information about church services for Ukrainian weddings

May God bless - and one day... unite us all.



26 Mar 2016
you bring interesting perspective but dangerous topic today, still very good article!

Thanks Tomas. Glad you enjoyed it.

26 Mar 2016
Congratulations for new blog design. I agree with opinion expressed in article, although it is important to examine statistical charge in 3, 5 years to better understand the future of Ukrainian society.

Hi Yarina. Thanks for the compliment. I would also like to see competing research firms financed by both eastern and western interests conducting surveys. I'd find it useful to be able to compare results.

14 Feb 2018
ukraine protects itself unknowing! low living standard makes less desirable choice for migrant invaders. we now have re-engineering of european society, elderly citizens do not produce to support taxation, birthrate now low so where to support economy? bring in foreigners! no matter who or what they worship. maybe time for data updates for religious population not only in ukraine country but all europe

so what you're saying is... we shouldn't trust the architects?

24 Dec 2018
Great article Oksana ! I am thinking of moving to Kiev ! And it is Amazing how much negativity I receive from westerners Europeans and Ukrainians to I personaly am happy with my spiritual beliefs which avoid all doctrine and adhere to morals that are intuitive . But I love the Kiev people’s devotion when I visit the places of worship .
16 Jun 2019
Thank you for your research. The data is from several years ago and does not reflect the impact from the UN migration pact. Ukraine is not the same today as was in 2013, 2015. Do you have data sets that are current to date?

Hi Gerry50, you raise an interesting point. Properly verifying updated research data will be the challenge. We will make an effort to either publish a follow up article or update this one. Thank you

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