Our schedule does not allow us to attend a local church today. It would have been hard to find a remnant of Christian congregations in Estonia.
Estonia, historically a Lutheran Christian nation, is today one of the “least religious” countries in the world in terms of declared attitudes, with only 14 percent of the population declaring religion to be an important part of their daily life. This is thought to largely be a result of the Soviet occupation of Estonia in 1940, prior to which Estonia had a large Christian majority.
I can only imagine the damage that was done when two generations of Estonians were not allowed to share their faith or even pray and have fellowship with other believers. It was against the law! How would that have affected me??
Our guide told us that the majority (60%) of people consider themselves free thinkers. I had never heard this term before. Upon research, I learned that it is a person who questions what they are told especially as it relates to religion and politics. I think everyone should be free thinkers. I certainly ask LOTS of questions, not just of people, but of God. I am pretty sure that he likes that. He wants me to talk to him.
One doesn’t become a Christian because their parents are Christians. Here is another way of saying it: If you are born in a garage, that doesn’t make you a car.
One is accountable for their own beliefs. You could say that a free thinker is very similar to having free will. Every person has to decide for themselves.
I was thankful to be born into a Christian family. At about age eight, I decided that I, too, would follow Christ. Who wouldn’t want a Savior? However, I don’t think that I fully grasped that he would be the Lord of my life until I was no longer around the influence of my family.
In college I attended different church denominations and talked with others who were believers and unbelievers. Also, I was deciding how I wanted to spend my life; what would be my guiding light? It became clear that Jesus would be my Lord and I would serve my King. Nothing else came close. After being in a post Soviet country, I realized how wonderful it was to pursue, question, and express my beliefs.
The Baltics had a strange connection with Christianity long before the Soviets arrived. They were victims of the northern Crusades instigated by the Teutonic Knights of Germany. They were told to wear the cross or die. Many would run to the woods and hide.
The Baltic people pride themselves on being the last areas to convert from paganism to Christianity. In fact, they still refer to themselves as pagan. They celebrate midsummer and bonfires. Nature is at the heart of their paganism together with folk stories, music, and dance. They are forest people. When a baby boy is born, an oak tree is planted. When a baby girl is born, a linden tree or maple tree is planted.
Originally, many churches in the Baltics were Catholic churches. However, the buildings were converted to Lutheran during the Reformation.
Then, during the Soviet area, churches were used for storage, exhibitions, or concert halls.