Religious Revival in Georgia

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the establishment of independence, both religion and church actually undergo the process of their return to the present-day society.  During the past decade, the Georgian Orthodox Church rapidly turned from a subordinate institution to a spiritual and cultural leader of the nation. Today, it is the most trusted institution by the Georgian society. According to the study conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC) in 2013, 72% of Georgians completely trust to Georgian Orthodox Church.

In Georgia the most striking feature is that young people are attending religious services much more than older people. Between 1981 and 2009 the World Value Survey (WVS) and the European Value Survey (EVS) have been conducted in102 countries (288 surveys in total) that were asking for the frequency of the attendance at religious services. These surveys found that the correlation between the variables of attending the service and the age of the respondent was positive, indicating that older people in general attend the religious services more frequently than younger people. But in case of Georgia this was contrary: youths attend religious services more frequently compare with older generations and these negative correlations are substantial. In line with these findings the attendance of religious services and the general importance of religion increased between 1997/1998 and 2008; at least monthly church attendance increased from 27% in 1996 to 38% in 2008. The share of people who responded to the question “how important is religion in your life?” the highest category “very important” also increased in this period from 49% to 66%.

Most of the surveys in Georgia focused on church attendance as the main indicator for religiosity. This restriction on institutional guided religiosity limits their scope: Specifically, the structure of personal religiosity remains unclear as private religious behavior, e.g., private prayer or religious experiences were not included in these surveys. The present investigation is to close this gap in research and to clarify the role of different aspects of religiosity in the religious revival. Specifically, we are interested whether the church is the sole driver/motor of the religious revival or if other factors play also a role. Furthermore, we are interested if the religious revival is expressed a homogenous patterns of religious behavior, or if the individualized and churchly religiosity may be differentially important in different groups of the population.

The present research investigates the research problem on an interdisciplinary and multi-dimensional model of religiosity. Its psychological measures of religiosity are derived from sociologically defined core dimensions (Huber & Huber, 2012). It has proven to be useful in several large international comparative surveys, which have been applied only in a pilot study in Georgia conducted by the Georgian Centre of Population Research in 2011-2012 in collaboration with Prof. Stefan Huber. This research will study the complex phenomenon of personal religiosity using this proven instrument as well as instruments on the attitude towards state and religious institutions that were used in previous surveys. Representative sample of 2000 persons will be designed. This quantitative measure is to be complemented by 30 qualitative interviews.