Often, Ukraine is united with other countries where the majority of the population’s religion is Orthodoxy, and is called an “Orthodox country”. According to Jose Casanova, senior researcher at the Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Theology and Religious Studies at Georgetown University, this is not entirely true, writes Radio Svoboda.
“Ukraine is a unique state in Europe that does not correspond to the model where one religion dominates (rarely two confessions – Catholic and Protestant), and other, smaller denominations are tolerated. In Ukraine, the situation is closer to the American one – there are many different denominations, and none of them is dominant,” the researcher says.
Despite the fact that the Orthodox have an obvious majority, in contrast to the classical “Orthodox countries”, several churches in Ukraine are competing for the status of a “national church”. Not only does this competition keep one denomination from “reigning” in the country, but it also creates favorable conditions for the existence of other smaller faiths and religious denominations, and it looks more like an American religious map than a map of any other country in Europe, Casanova said.
For historical reasons and because of the geographical location between Catholic Poland and Orthodox Russia, Ukraine was unable to create a mono-religious nation-state at a time when religion was another pillar of power.