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The People of Armenia, Religion

Armenian people, Armenian Apostolic Church, catholicos, Armenian Church, nationalist groups

Armenians were converted to Christianity in the early 4th century, and by some accounts they were the first in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion. During centuries of foreign domination, when Armenians did not have a state of their own, the Armenian Church helped maintain a sense of collective identity. When Armenia was part of the Russian Empire, the head of the church, known as the catholicos, was considered the most important representative of the Armenian people. The church therefore developed as a strong symbol of the Armenian nation. The Armenian Church was allowed to continue as the national church of the Armenian republic during the Soviet period, although the Soviet Union was officially atheistic because of its Communist ideology. Soviet authorities granted official recognition only to Armenian clergy who were affiliated with a pro-Soviet political faction. Clergy who supported nationalist groups were not allowed to hold power in the church. Today, Christianity remains the country’s predominant religion. Most ethnic Armenians belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church. Among ethnic minorities, there are Russian Orthodox Christians, Protestants, and Muslims.

Article key phrases:

Armenian people, Armenian Apostolic Church, catholicos, Armenian Church, nationalist groups, Communist ideology, national church, Russian Empire, state religion, official recognition, Soviet Union, Protestants, Muslims, Christianity, ethnic minorities, accounts, century, power, head, world


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