“I Came not to Bring Peace, but a Sword”: The Politics of Religion after Socialism and the Precariousness of Religious Life in the Russian Arctic



In the post-Soviet period, new opportunities have been created for cross-cultural interaction revealing a global religious marketplace. The Russian Arctic seemed to have become an attractive land for international Protestant missionary activities. Since the mid-1990s, scholars began to register the growing influence of evangelical movements among the indigenous population of Siberia and the Far North. Based on a case study of religious communities in the Polar Ural Mountains and the Yamal peninsula, the article addresses the transformation of postsocialist religious landscape into a “battlefield” of different missionary principles and strategies. The picture was also amplified with the persistence of Soviet atheistic discourse on “destructive foreign religious sects” and local authorities’ policy of putting pressure upon and intimidating Protestant religious associations. The endurance of Soviet anti-religious ideology and the issue of “destructive sects” dominated local public discourse and influenced the ways in which the local authorities reacted to recent religious rearrangements. This article explores the background of the emerging diverse and competitive religiosity in the Arctic and across post-Soviet Russia and describes the main tensions that determined religious activity in the Russian Arctic.


Evangelical mission; The Russian Arctic; Indigenous peoples of Siberia and the North; Post-Soviet politics of religion; Inter-confessional relations; Religious conflicts; Baptism; Pentecostalism


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