Many Russians have accepted Western values, Bishop Yevgeny of Yekaterinburg has said File photo: A family strolling in a Moscow park, February 2024. © Sputnik/Natalya Seliverstova

The Western entertainment industry has managed to teach many Russians not to have children, to the point where the nation itself is risking ruin, according to Bishop Yevgeny of Yekaterinburg.

The bishop, who chairs the Synodal Department of Religious Education and Catechism of the Russian Orthodox Church, spoke to the regional outlet OTV on Monday.

“Our nation is shrinking. Ethnic Russians are shrinking most of all,” Bishop Yevgeny told the outlet. “This has been especially the case in the last 30-40 years. The Hollywood film industry doesn’t work for nothing.”

People in the prime of their lives, who should be having children, have been taught that doing so is “perpetuating poverty” or that one child is enough, the bishop continued.

Some people, he said, “have accepted the idea of gender reassignment or non-traditional relationships, which in no way contribute to the normal life of a person or simply to the preservation of life in future generations,” he added.

“It seems the model imposed on us by our Western ‘partners’ is working. If it continues to work, the population of our country, cities and villages will decline.”

The bishop argued that there ought to be an age limit on consuming certain forms of entertainment, analogous to limits on alcohol or tobacco for minors.

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“What are suicides, bullying, terrorist attacks in schools – this is the result of a very careless spread of aggressive information, from which children were not shielded,” said the cleric.

Another solution, he said, might be adding family studies to the school curriculum, which the Church is currently discussing with the government.

“It used to be that people learned how to create, maintain, and live in a family from the families themselves. Modern families lack such experience,” the bishop said. “So we need to talk and share this experience, and school is a good place for this. This should, of course, be done by the teacher. You can’t learn this from a book or an online program.”

A “very good” textbook on the spiritual basis of family life was written 15 years ago and has been successfully used to teach Sverdlovsk Region 10th graders in the past, the priest said.

Russian birth rates have been on the decline since 2014, according to the national statistics bureau, Rosstat. In 2023, barely more than 1.2 million babies were born in the country, the lowest number since 1999. If the trend continues, Russia’s population might shrink by 6% by 2050. The government proclaimed 2024 the ‘Year of the Family’ and has sought to encourage young Russians to start families in a variety of ways. (RT)