Kisser T. The Russian Germans: religion online

T. Kisser - Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences St. Petersburg, Russian Federation ORCID: 0000-0001-9246-2787


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ABSTRACT. The article deals with the influence of the Internet on the world religions and the new virtual forms of religious practices (cyber-religion). The subject of this article relates to the basic needs category, however, it requires a particularly delicate treatment, since it involves a religion, which throughout its entire history developed its own specific norms and canons, and today has to adapt to the new rules of web-communication. Cyber religion has become particularly attractive during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the subsequent worldwide isolation. One of its effects was the final victory of the digital culture over the analogue version. The global public religious life moved to the television and radio broadcasts, and, most of all, to the Internet platforms. To get a closer look at the impact of the pandemic on cyber-religion, we will focus on the ethnic community of the Russian Germans the members of which mostly belong to the three main denominations of Christianity — Protestantism (Lutheran church), Catholicism and, to a lesser extent, Russian Orthodoxy. The authors have been monitoring the Russian Germans’ Lutheran and Catholic communities by means of the “online involved observation” technique and the participation in the WhatsApp groups for a six months period. Additional sources for the study were the web-interviews of the religious communities’ leaders, the church members, the subscribers of social networks, WhatsАpp and Telegram messengers. The study of the Russian Germans has demonstrated a growth of religious activity in online media. The people unable to attend the real-life church services shifted their attention to the online services. In addition, there was a surge of online requests for prayer as a consequence of restrictions limiting the opportunities to pray in church. The traditional religious holidays also suffered a transformation under the effect of the circumstances and acquired new online forms. It is quite possible that the practice of online holidays will be maintained in future, and the cyber religion will become even more popular.


DOI 10.31250/2618-8600-2020-3(9)-103-123
УДК 0 04.9:39


KEYWORDS: cyber-religion, virtual religiosity, online service, pandemic, Lutherans, Catholics, Russian Germans



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