a group of “spiritual Christians” (dukhovnye khristiane), a religious sect in Russia.
The sect of the Molokans evolved in Tambov Province in the late 18th century and then spread to a number of other regions of Russia. Its founder is considered to be Semen Uklein, originally a member of the Dukhobors. The Molokans rejected the church, the church hierarchy, fasting, icons, and the Eastern Orthodox ritual of worship. Their prayer meetings were held in houses of prayer, and the sect was led by presbyter-elders. Biblical texts were sung at prayer meetings.
The Molokan movement was one of the forms taken by the peasant anticlerical movement. It arose in the atmosphere of the growing crisis of the feudal serfholding system. The forms of worship showed Baptist influences. Having challenged the official church, the Molokans were persecuted by the tsarist government. A process of social stratification among the Molokans and the emergence of a wealthy elite and its usurpation of authority within the sect led to the corruption of the sect; a number of its members joined the Baptists. In the early 20th century, there were 1.2 million Molokans. The sect began to disintegrate after the October Revolution of 1917. Only small groups of Molokans remain in the USSR—in Transcaucasia, the Ukraine, and a few places in the RSFSR (such as Stavropol’ Krai and Tambov Oblast).
REFERENCESDruzhinin, V. Molokane. [Leningrad] 1930.
Bonch-Bruevich, V. D. “Sektantstvo i staroobriadnichestvo v pervoi polovine XIX v.” Izbr. soch., vol. 1. Moscow, 1959.
Klibanov, A. I. Religioznoe sektantstvo i sovremennost’, Moscow, 1969.
Malakhova, I. A. Dukhovnye khristiane. Moscow, 1970.