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Reliable, verifiable data about religious beliefs and practices in the region’s then-communist regimes is difficult, if not impossible, to find.
But Pew Research Center’s predecessor organization did ask about religion when it surveyed several countries in the region in 1991, during the waning months of the USSR.
Nonetheless, the comeback of religion in a region once dominated by atheist regimes is striking – particularly in some historically Orthodox countries, where levels of religious affiliation have risen substantially in recent decades.
Whether the return to religion in Orthodox-majority countries began before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 remains an open question.
For example, a median of just 10% of Orthodox Christians across the region say they go to church on a weekly basis. Research suggests that many people around the world engage with religion in at least one of these ways, but not necessarily all three.
Indeed, compared with many populations Pew Research Center previously has surveyed – from the United States to Latin America to sub-Saharan Africa to Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa – Central and Eastern Europeans display relatively low levels of religious observance. Christians in Western Europe, for example, have been described as “believing without belonging,” a phrase coined by sociologist Grace Davie in her 1994 religious profile of Great Britain, where, she noted, widespread belief in God coexists with largely empty churches and low participation in religious institutions.
"It's about a baseline of comfort," explained one gay Jewish man who used J-Date in his search for a partner.
"It helped me to reflect on what I wanted my life to really be about, who I wanted to be with and how to raise any future children." Of course, there are many dating sites that are not primarily religious but allow customers to indicate religious preference –- or the preference of no religion at all.
Today, solid majorities of adults across much of the region say they believe in God, and most identify with a religion.Acting as surrogate parents, aunts, uncles and traditional matchmakers, these sites appeal to the belief that the right match is one where the religious profiles of the couple are as similar as possible.In this age of cultural melting pot and globalism, why are people searching for people of the same religious background?Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism are the most prevalent religious affiliations, much as they were more than 100 years ago in the twilight years of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires.In many Central and Eastern European countries, religion and national identity are closely entwined.