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V. Cretu

University of Bucharest (ROMANIA)
In Romania, religious behavior has a wider spread compared to many other European countries, both in Eastern and Western Europe. Furthermore, religious affiliation is among the highest in Europe. Similarly, the private religious practice, such as praying to God, places Romania at the forefront in Europe. Religious practice within the public space, measured by church attendance, records moderate but significantly higher values than many other European countries. Romania can compare itself in terms of religious practice and affiliation with Poland, Malta and Ireland. At the opposite side are placed Germany (espeacially the Eastern part), the Czech Republic and Estonia, highly secularized countries where the lifting of the restrictions imposed by the communist regime has not brought about a religious revival.

The study of public religious practice in Romania after 1990 indicates a significant increase of the religious phenomenon. The evolution was spectacular (a significant increase of the church attendance) during 1993-1997, after which the phenomenon reached a plateau phase. During this period, religious practice has risen from a 30% (a similar level to that of other ex-communist countries) to more than 45%.

Although it is quite common today and easy to understand, the term "religiosity" is a complex phenomenon that is composed of five elements: belief, knowledge, experience, practice (often divided into private and public practice) and the consequences of religion in people's lives. While the first four elements are distinct and relatively simple to spot, the last element is more difficult to identify and conceptualize.

Three interlinked factors are at the origin of this phenomenon of increased "religiosity" among young Romanians: the strong social revalorization of religion in post-communist era, enforced especially by media; a more diverse religious offer; the need for social integration by means of belonging to a religious community, as basis for identity findings.

Based on the analysis of some public surveys and scientific research projects developed during the latest years, we can state that Romanians’ religiosity has reached significant levels. Nevertheless, when looking more closely to this phenomenon, one can conclude that religiosity often hides a very strong sense of superstition. Indeed, the religiosity of the Young Romanians is not only related to theological reasoning, but it is also rather sophisticated, religion being seen not only with a view to salvation and reaching eternal life, but also in a very pragmatic manner, as an anchor in the current realities. Therefore, there is enough place for religious education, where requested and desired.