Based on results of a survey conducted in 2015, the Pew Research Center reported that 86% of Ukrainians believe in God. 10% of Ukrainians identified as Catholic (up from the 5.6% figure reported in their 2010 survey), while 78% identified as Orthodox, and 7% percent identified as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular.”1 22% of Ukrainians said that religion is very important in their lives, 45% that it is somewhat important, and 30% that it is “not too” or not at all important.2 43% of Ukrainian Catholics, and 12% of Ukrainian Orthodox, reported attending church weekly.3 56% of Ukrainian Catholics, and 28% of Ukrainian Orthodox, say that they pray daily. (That reported rate of Catholic daily prayer was much higher than in Poland or in almost all of Eastern Europe.)4 36% of Ukrainians say that the state should support religion, but 56% say government and religious policies should be separate.5
Among Catholics, 36% of Ukrainians said that their religious identity is “mainly a matter of personal faith,” 40% said it was “mainly a matter of national culture/family tradition,” and 16% said it was both.6 40% of Catholics said they read scripture at least monthly outside of church, and 32% said they share faith or views on God at least monthly (this was a much higher rate than among Orthodox in Ukraine, or Catholics in Poland).7 86% of Catholics said that they were “proud to be Catholic,” a slightly higher rate than in famously Catholic Poland.8 82% of Ukrainian Catholics bring their children to church, 40% to religious instruction outside the home, and 67% have them pray or read scripture. All of these rates are notably higher than Orthodox rates in Ukraine.9
Though people on the ground report that tensions are low in the years since church properties were redistributed in the 1990s, in the Pew survey, 56% of Orthodox respondents in Ukraine said that they would be willing to accept Catholics into their family, though 92% of Catholics said that they would be willing to accept Orthodox into their family.10 61% of Ukrainians say that Orthodoxy and Catholicism “have a lot in common,” while 21% say they are “very different.”11 21% of Ukrainians favor, and 36% oppose communion between Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.12 Even today, 48% of Catholics say that they would not be willing to accept Jews as family members, 21% as neighbors, 4% as fellow citizens. 13
Compared to western Europeans, Ukrainians stand out on several fronts as more socially conservative. Only 11% of Ukrainians age 18-34, and 7% of those older, approved of same-sex marriage; 84% of Ukrainians age 18-34 said that homosexuality should not be accepted by society. Opinions of Orthodox and Catholics were not significantly different, though Orthodox were more conservative.16 35% of Ukrainians said that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 48% say that having an abortion is morally wrong.17 38% say that premarital sex is morally wrong, 26% that divorce is morally wrong, 13% that using contraceptives is morally wrong, and 41% agree that wives should obey their husbands.18 Even as 94% were dissatisfied with life in their own country, and even more with their economy, Ukrainians were least likely among Eastern European countries, at 47%, to agree with the statement, “Most people are better off in a free market.” 19
- 1. Pew Research Center, “Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe,” (May 10, 2017), 20, http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2017/05/15120244/CEUP-FULL-REPORT.pdf.
- 2. Pew, 62.
- 3. Pew, 11.
- 4. Pew, 71.
- 5. Pew, 97.
- 6. Pew, 56. Orthodox Ukrainians were slightly more likely to refer to it as a matter of family and national traditions.
- 7. Pew, 74.
- 8. Pew, 58.
- 9. Pew, 78.
- 10. Pew, 158.
- 11. Pew, 156.
- 12. Pew, 157.
- 13. Pew, 162. Orthodox were notably more tolerant on these family and neighbor measures.
- 14. Pew, 143.
- 15. Pew, 143, 145.
- 16. Pew, 28, 106, 109.
- 17. Pew, 110, 118.
- 18. Pew, 118, 114. Pew shows that the rate of belief in the scriptural mandate on wives obeying their husbands is much higher overall in Orthodox than Catholic countries, but doesn’t give a breakdown for Catholics and Orthodox in Ukraine.
- 19. Pew, 165, 167.
Updated: April 13, 2020 - 9:56am