Whether the return to religion in Orthodox-majority countries began before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 remains an open question.
Reliable, verifiable data about religious beliefs and practices in the region’s then-communist regimes is difficult, if not impossible, to find.
In many Central and Eastern European countries, religion and national identity are closely entwined.
This is true in former communist states, such as the Russian Federation and Poland, where majorities say that being Orthodox or Catholic is important to being “truly Russian” or “truly Polish.” It is also the case in Greece, where the church played a central role in Greece’s successful struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire and where today three-quarters of the public (76%) says that being Orthodox is important to being “truly Greek.” Many people in the region embrace religion as an element of national belonging even though they are not highly observant.
Although Catholics overall are more religiously observant than Orthodox Christians in the region, however, the association between religious identity and national identity is stronger in Orthodox-majority countries than in Catholic ones.