Taxonomy of 3 Spiritual Christian groups:
Molokane, Pryguny and Dukhizhizniki
books, fellowship, holidays, prophets and songs.

Классификация трёх духовных христианских групп: молокане, прыгуны и дух-и-жизники
книги, общение, песни, праздники, пророки

by Andrei Conovaloff
Draft In-Progress
: (Updated: March 16, 2016)  Comments, corrections welcome — Administrator @ Molokane. org
— Link:

After a century of misuse, the Russian term molokan(1) unfortunately has several very different confused meanings —
  • the original correct term for the authentic Spiritual Christian Molokan faith since 1765,
  • a widely used incorrect term for all Spiritual Christian faiths (non-Orthodox, sectarians*), and
  • sometimes incorrectly used for any dissident in Old Russia, (Orthodox or not).(2)
The term Molokan should be used only for the registered Spiritual Christian Molokan faith.

For clarity and historic accuracy, the terms dukhovnye khristiane, Spiritual Christians or sectarians* should be used when generally referring to an unknown or mixed group(s) of non-Orthodox, non-Jewish, non-Muslim and similar faiths and/or groups in Old Russia, and/or their descendants, whose ancestry may be a mixture of Armenian, Chuvash, Finn, German, Russian, Tatar, Ukrainian, Mordvin, etc.

* "Sect" and "sectarian" as derived from the Latin secare, meaning "to cut or cut off."

The purpose of this page is to explain how and why many misnomers of "Molokan" were created, transformed and misused; and to present an empirical classification system for the 3 Spiritual Christian groups —
  1. Molokane (Milk-drinkers) — founded ~1765 in Central Russia (Tambov oblast)
  2. Pryguny (Jumpers) — loosely consolidated ~1833 in northeast Taurida governate, Novorossiya (New Russia, now South Ukraine, Zaporizhia oblast) from Pietist-like movements transferred from Europe and Central Russia. Prygun label in use since 1856.
  3. Dukhizhizniki (Spirit-and-Lifers) — founded ~1928 in U.S.A. (initiated 2 miles west of Glendale AZ in 1915, and developed in Boyle Heights district, Los Angeles CA in the 1920s.) Dukhizhiznik is a neologism formed in 2007 to accurately label these new religious movements (NRM).
Please properly use these 3 transliterated Russian terms in honest respect, to set the record straight. Avoid confusing English labels, except to define the original labels in the Russian language. Avoid misinformation and disinformation currently on Wikipedia and other websites.

Other Spiritual Christian (non-Orthodox, sectarian*) groups with origins in Old Russia that resettled in North America (Adventisty, Baptisti, Dukhobortsy, Evangeliki, Pyatidesyatniki, Subbotniki, Svobodniki, etc.) are not the focus of this taxonomy, though they are also sometimes mislabeled as "Molokan" along with other faiths and people.

  1. Introduction
  2. Spiritual Christian Groups
    • Discrimination of American "Holy Jumpers"
  3. “Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians” in 1902, 1904, 1907
  4. Is Molokan one faith, many faiths, an ethnic group, or a non-Russian nationality?
  5. Three Faiths Today
  6. New Label : Dukhizhizniki
  7. Analogies
  8. Diaspora "Molokan" label created by 2 people
    • Captain Peter A. Demens (Пётр Алексеевич Дементьев)
    • Dr. Pauline V. Young
    • Reasons
    • To get a privilege
  9. Name confusion
  10. Web sites by and about Spiritual Christians
  11. Classification
  12. Other classification systems

   Pronunciation Guide and Relative Distribution
Russian / English (Italic)

enPR mä-lō-kän'
IPA mɑ.loʊ.kɑn'

* For Spiritual Christians who retained their ancestral Southern Russian dialects, Prigun/Priguny must be pronounced as Prihun/Prihuny (Pree-hoon/Pree-hoo-NEE).(6)

Summary Charts in 5 Languages

These 3 Spiritual Christian groups are easily identified by their characteristic liturgies used during prayer-worship services.

Dukh i zhizn' Christ's God's Yes






1. All Maksimisty are Dukhizhizniki, but not all Dukhizhizniki are Maksimisty.
Most adapted from Russian folk songs and borrowed from German Protestants.
3. Not during service, but often during meals at weddings, funerals, child dedication, holidays
4. Open canon, a sacred text that can be modified by continuous revelation.
About 200 prophets since 1900, but only 4 major prophets published in their Kniga solnste, dukh i zhizn'(holy book). Each congregation has 1 or more prophets. Over 100 prophesies are recorded around the world in secret notebooks sometimes shared within the most trusted networks of members.

Эти три
группы духовных христиан можно легко определить по их различним характеристикам.

Дух и жизнь Христа Бога Есть






1. Все максимисты – духижизники, но не все духижизники максимисты.
2. Большинство взято из русских народных песен и заимствовано от немецких протестантов.
3. Во время обеда на свадьбах, похоронах, кстинах и праздниках.

Estos 3 grupos cristianos espirituales son fácilmente identificados por sus liturgias característicos usados durante los servicios de oración de adoración.

La Biblia
Dukh i zhizn' de Cristo de Dios
Molokan X


Prygun X


Dukhizhiznik1 X

1. Todos los Maksimisty son Dukhizhizniki, pero no todos los Dukhizhizniki son Maksimisty.
La mayoría fueron tomadas de canciones populares rusas y tomadas de los protestantes alemanes.
No durante el servicio, pero a menudo durante las comidas en las bodas, funerales, dedicación niño, días de fiesta.
Abra canon, un texto sagrado que puede ser modificado por la revelación continua, algo similar a cánones de los Santos de los Últimos Días.

Bu 3 Manevi Hıristiyan gruplar kolayca dua-ibadet sırasında kullanılan karakteristik ayinlerinde tarafından tespit edilir.

Kutsal Kitap
Dukh i zhizn' Mesih'in Tanrı'nın Evet





Dukhizhiznik1 X

1. Her Maksimist bir Dukhizhizniki olan; bazı Dukhizhizniki Maksimisty olan.
En çok Rus halk şarkıları uyarlanan ve Alman Protestanlar ödünç.
Değil hizmeti sırasında, ama çoğu zaman düğün, cenaze, çocuk özveri ve dini yemekler sırasında..
Açık Canon, sürekli vahiy ile modifiye edilebilir bir kutsal metin.

1. Introduction

This Taxonomy answers 2 questions :
  1. Why do thousands of people around the world, who are not Molokan by faith, many despising Molokane, falsely claim to be Molokane?
  2. If not Molokane, what and who are they?
Neither question has been asked, nor answered before in print.
Short answer to question 1:  Why do so many falsely call themselves "Molokan"?

To hide a complicated, confusing and illegal history in Old Russia, which misled descendants' understanding of their origins.

Captain P. A. Demens
and Dr. P. V. Young, independently at different times intervened to help diverse groups of immigrants from Russia to resettle in the United States and Mexico. Each intentionally mislabeled all Spiritual Christians from Russia in Southern California as "Molokans" for their own different altruistic reasons.
  • From 1898 to 1910, Captain P. A. Demens advocated immigration, integration(19), employment and colonization. He knew and admitted that only a few were Molokane, but only used that one term when they arrived and in all his writings.
  • From 1925 to 1950, Professor P. V. Young did research, and advocated assimilation(19) and education to change behavior and avoid discrimination and deportation. She was misled to believe that Pryguny with other faiths and Molokane were the same, and nearly exclusively used the false Molokan term in all her publications and discourse.
Short answer to question
  What and who are they?

A simple historical classification system (presented below) defines confused groups of non-dukhobor* Spiritual Christians, who, a century ago were told by Demens and Young in Los Angeles that they should all claim to be "Molokans" in America no matter what or who they were in Russia, or became in America. Though many resisted name hijacking, the false identity transformation was gradually adopted until it passed the tipping-point by W.W.II, probably because outsiders used this simpler label and real Molokane 400 miles away in San Francisco did not object. The false label confuses histories of diverse faiths which are not Molokan, and should not be used except for actual Molokane.

* Dukhobor is a romanized spelling of the Russian духобор, Canadian spelling: "Doukhobor." The most accurate plural is is Dukhobortsy

Who are Spiritual Christian Milk-drinkers?

Dukhovnye khristiane-molokane (Духовные христиане-молокане : Spiritual Christian Milk-drinkers) is a registered religion with an international organization and headquarters in south Russia, North Caucasus. Members of this organization are officially internationally recognized as "Molokans."

Contact — контакт
Websites — сайте
Союз общин Духовных Христиан молокан             
ул. Школьная, д. 75
с. Кочубеевское,
Кочубеевский р-н
Ставропольский кр.

Phone: 8-86550-22640
сдхм.рф (youth news, events, history) (archive, journals, songs) (news, history, blog)
молокане.рф (genealogy, congregations)

Newsletter: Весть (Vest' : News)

Video Channel: sodhmvr

Head-Presviter: Vasili T. Schetinkin
Union of Spiritual Christian Molokan Congregations
67 Shkol'naya street
Kochubeevskoe town
Kochubeevskii district
Stavropol'skii territory
Russian Federation

Click for MORE

Molokane (named about 1765 in Central Russia) are the oldest, largest and the most documented and organized of these 3 confused Spiritual Christian groups. Molokane have a central hierarchy (a bureaucracy), published contacts and content on the Internet, meetings, conventions, buildings, interfaith representation, and a long a history of publications in Russia. They are Bible-centered Christians in Russia, not Orthodox, who kept about 10% of Orthodox ritual and discarded the rest.

Much misunderstanding results from erroneous history about migration to North America about 1900. Too often Molokane are confused with Dukhobortsy and many other sects that pretended to be Molokane when they fled from Russia, and/or arrived in California. Only about 500 Molokane (100 families) migrated to California where most settled in San Francisco and Northern California. After February 1906, there was never a n organized Molokan congregation in South California, Mexico or Canada, only in San Francisco and later Sheridan (north of Sacramento). Numerous old reports of organized Molokane outside of Northern California are false.

Who/What are Dukhizhizniki and Pryguny?

They are not Molokane.

Dukhizhizniki (founded about 1928 in the U.S.A.) are new religious movements which use the Russian language holy book Kniga solnste, dukh i zhizn' in addition to the Russian Bible. Congregations that use the Dukh i zhizn' (short title ) are loosely networked transformed faiths not in koinonia (unity, fellowship, brotherhood, partnership, full communion : единство, братство, товарищество, полное общение) with Molokane or Pryguny, and many not with each other, though most all are descendants of Pryguny, another Spiritual Christian faith, or converted in Russia from many faiths and nationalities. They have no uniform liturgy, no central office, no public phone number, no official representatives or central organization,(7) no official website or centralized world-wide network, and no current journal or newsletter. Like Pryguny, each congregation has one or more prophets, but only the writings of 4 prophets are published in their holy book: Kniga solnste, dukh i zhin' (Book of the Sun, Spirit and Life, 1928). Oral and notebook prophecies of perhaps 100 other prophets exist, and about 200 prophets have been active in the past century. Since no inter-congregational congresses are held, leadership is often entrenched and authoritarian by location. Separate congregations often have autonomous meeting halls near each other. Intermarriage, if allowed, among Dukhizhizniki is scrutinized; brides typically must join the groom's congregation. To contact them, one must approach each congregation, organization and group separately and preferably verbally in person, because they typically will not respond in writing (few have easy-to-find agents or addresses), even if they they personally know you, or are required by law. About the best contact an outsider can get is with one, or a few individuals, who may only speak unofficially and/or in secret. Outsiders, even members of other congregations and organizations, may be immediately turned away, treated like an intruder at a private or secret meeting for members only. While the diaspora formally prohibits (or scorns) inter-faith and public exchanges, those in the Northern Caucasus typically participate in events organized by regional government.(8) Some of the most zealous practicing diaspora Dukhizhizniki today have internalized their historic oppression from the 1800s, and many express group behavior similar to a selfish herd and an "introversionist sect."(9)

Pryguny or Skakuny (founded in Central Russia then aggregated about 1833 in South Ukraine, but not consistently named until about 1856 in the Southern Caucasus) are historically a somewhat intermediary weak evolutionary link between many sectarian groups and Dukhizhizniki. The Prygun faiths were formed by zealous millennialists from a variety of faiths in Samara oblast and Tavria Governate. The origin of this multi-hybrid amalgamated faith cluster is much less documented than other Spiritual Christians, because it was isolated, fragmented, illegal and hid. Reports variously described congregants in Russian as beguny, pryguny, shalaputy, sionisty, skakuny, stranniki, vedentsy, among other terms; and in English as jumpers, leapers, noisy-nose-breathers, knowers, hoppers, bouncers and dancers. Probably more than half woluntarily migrated to the Southern Caucasus after 1840 with other Spiritual Christian faiths as colonizers, where they grew in numbers and continued to fractionate while incorporating new beliefs, songs and rituals from other faiths, mostly from Anabaptists and descendents of Pietists who migrated from Europe to South Ukraine and Caucasus, and from local Protestants. From Liudi Bozhe (God's people), and German heupferde (hoppers) and tanzende brüder (brother dancers). Some retained, or learned, variations of heavy rapid breathing while jumping and jerking in the spirit, and roaring and ranting, sometimes "half-naked" (without shirts?). Each congregation has one or more prophets. From German Protestants (Duchy of Württemburg) and missionaries, and Novie Israeli (New Israelites), they adapted and borrowed songs and millennialism. From Subbotniki (Saturday people) they added holidays and Old Testament customs. Later the Maksimist division discarded nearly all of the holidays retained from Molokane (Christ's holidays). In general today, they are somewhat similar to Pentecostals. Those who migrated to North America after 1900 were converted to Dukhizhiznik faiths after 1928, or abandoned their heritage faiths. Since 1900 the impact and roles of prophets and prophesy is less significant compared to Dukhizhixnik faiths.

Today, Prygun congregations only exist in the Northern Caucasus of the Russian Federation. Diaspora congregations persisted in the U.S.A. in Arizona and San Francisco, California, up to 1950; immigrants from Iran (Persia) in Los Angeles up to 1958; and in Mexico up to the early 1960s. The last active congregation in Los Angles migrated to Adelaide, South Australia, in the 1960s, where it persists today with no contact with any congregation currently in the Russian Federation. Congregations in the Republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan resettled to the Russian Federation after perestroika (1990).

Using the 1997 Johnstone definitions for sect and cult, Molokane and Pryguny are sects, and Dukhizhiznik congregations are many cults. All 3 are heterodox, not-orthodox, and many Dukhizhiznik venerate and/or revere select prophets. Analysis with other classifications systems of religious movements is in-progress.

None of these 3 groups have missionaries, or paid religious positions or staff. All work is voluntarily. In the Former Soviet Union, congregations with a separate prayer house often have a resident security/property guard, often a pensioner who gets rent in exchange for guarding a prayer hall. Among diaspora, only the Dukhizhiznik elementary school, Hacienda Heights CA, has paid staff; and their cemeteries hire non-white laborers because many believers obey a commandment in their Dukh i zhizn' to hire "Arabs" (people of color) to become wealthy, therefore zealous adherents refuse to volunteer to perform community service manual labor. Some forbid their members from aiding members of other faiths ("non-beleivers").

Dukhizhizniki were founded about 1928 in the U.S. by a variety of zealous Spiritual Christians who immigrated from Russia to Arizona and California (including all Maksimisty, Novie Israeli, Sionisty, Klubnikinisty, Pivovarovsty and some Pryguny). Their new ritual holy books (which transformed through at least 7 versions, 1915-1928) and faiths were exported back to Eastern Europe beginning in the 1930s and converted all the Maksimisty and most zealous Pryguny and a few similar faiths. Though these various zealot faiths adopted the new ritual holy books sent from Los Angeles, they mostly remained separate faiths to this day. By 1960, all Prygun congregations in the U.S., except one in San Francisco which merged with local Molokane, were extinguished or converted to a Dukhizhiznik faith, while the majority who did not conform to their rules and rituals were rejected, and/or harassed to extinction. Though a congregation may be coerced into placing these holy books on their alter table, not all congregants personally accepted the books as divine, yet many maintained paid Dukhizhiznik membership for cultural and social reasons.

In the 1970s, 5 heritage Dukhizhiznik families in Oregon who had no personal knowledge of Pryguny in the Soviet Union united to "re-form" their own version of a Prygun faith by (1) rejecting the divinity of the book Kniga solnste dukh i zhizn'; (2) performing their service in English (Russian optional), using selected translated songs and prayers formerly learned while Dukhizhizniki; and (3) somewhat recognizing the former abandoned Americanized Christ's holidays. Their self-reversion to Pryguny was severely scorned by zealous diaspora Dukhizhizniki as heresy and apostasy because they mailed a free newsletter, The Bessednik, for more than a decade (1980-1990s) to over 4,500 households listed in the mislabled 1980 Молокан Directory, which included nearly all the diaspora Dukhizhizniki. The intense open verbal attacks deterred much wanted congregations from forming in California.


About 1% of all Spiritual Christians in Old Russia migrated to North America from 1899 to 1930. Most came from the west side of the Southern Caucasus, location of perhaps one-fourth of their total populations in 1900. See: Reasons for migration, Dukhizhizniki in America.

The first migration wave was large and quick due to the intervention of Lev. N. Tolstoy and The Society of Friends, London UK. In 1899 about 7,400 (1/3) of the most zealous and persecuted Dukhobortsy (spirit-wrestlers, Doukhobors), mainly followers of P.V. Verigin, migrated to Canada from the Southern Caucasus, and by 1930 a total of 8,800 had arrived in Canada. The majority 2/3 remained in Russia.

The second slower wave began in 1904 among non-dukhobor Spiritual Christians, to Los Angeles, California, where a third as many (<3,000) mostly arrived in groups over a 7-year period. (See: Dukhizhizniki in America, Chapter I: The Migration.) P.A. Demens diverted them from following Dukhobortsy to Canada, and personally led them to Los Angeles, financing some.

During these migrations to North America, all Spiritual Christians were called "Russian Quakers" in the press, and often "Mennonites." Sometimes Spiritual Christian Dukhobortsy were called Molokans, and sometimes Spiritual Christian Molokane were called Doukhobors. At first the terms did not seem to matter, as long as the reader understood they were dissident immigrants from Russia, not like "us." In Canada the collective term for Spiritual Christian was simplified by outsiders to various spellings of "Doukhobor." In the U.S.A. the term for "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians" was falsely simplified to "Molokan," causing international confusion for more than a century, which this Taxonomy corrects. Note that the term "Molokan" has been misspelled more than 50 ways in English.

Click to ENLARGE During the second wave of immigration of the "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians" to the U.S.A., all were mistakenly announced and promoted simply as Molokane, though most were varieties of Pryguny and other non-Molokan faiths, including Dukhobortsy. Reasons for fewer Molokane emigrating are listed in Dukhizhizniki in America, Introduction. Though some resisted this false identity and tried to correct the mistake, they were repeatedly conditioned by advisers and agents to only use the short false collective name of "Molokan," probably to simplify their complicated identities and hide their actual faiths, to counter discrimination and avoid deportation during decades of nationalism and anti-communist sentiment in North America.

The false Molokan label became ingrained into the collective memory of the diaspora who forgot and/or censored their embarrassing oral histories and identities to their descendants and surrounding public. The cover-up was exposed after the breakup of the Soviet Union and reorganization of the Molokane faith internationally. The minority Dukhizhiznik faiths began to realize they could no longer falsely claim the Molokan faith label forever in public, though the false term persists among themselves.

In North America, the single label "Molokan" was first naively internationally popularized by journalists in St. Petersburg, Russia. Then Russian agents in Los Angeles (Demens and de Blumenthal, 1905-1910), and professors (Young, U.S.C. 1926-1932+) primarily used the single simple term to promote, document and shelter these immigrants from Russia as a valuable breed of safe White Protestant Christian immigrants — tall, healthy, strong, intelligent, sane, sober; but not criminals, not anarchists, not Bolsheviks, not communists, not socialists, not traitors, not inferior Jews, nor fanatic pagan religious cults.

The false single simple label probably allowed the advisers and agents:
  • to falsely claim they are The Molokane who were given religious freedom by the Tsar in 1805 and in 1904;
  • to falsely claim they are The Molokane named by Lev N. Tolstoy in his internationally published letters to the Tsar in 1899-1900, to either give religious dissenters religious freedom and lower taxes/rents, or allow them to emigrate;
  • to falsely claim they are NOT the "Dancers" (Pryguny), who were denied religious freedom in Russia.(15);
  • to falsely claim they ALL were the tens of thousands of Molokane incorrectly announced in the international news (1904-1905) to be migrating to Los Angeles when U.S. business wanted more White Christian Protestant literate skilled laborers and farming colonists;
  • to promote them as wholesome White Protestant Christians (not pagans), experienced farmers, hardworking cheap White labor, ideal permanent colonists and potential good citizens, not the stereotypical illiterate unskilled South-eastern Europeans;
  • to hide their various secret illegal strange faiths and rituals, some of which were similar to controversial emerging charismatic Pentecostals (Holy Jumpers/ Rollers) in California, and Orthodox Russian-Hebrew-Jews;
  • to differentiate them from all other aliens and unpatriotic immigrants from Russia on the U.S. west coast being investigated as anarchists, Bolsheviks, communists, reds, etc.;
  • to differentiate them from the zealous nude protesting Spiritual Christian Svobodniki (free men, Freedomites) emerging in Canada (1902-1906) who were denied mass entry into the U.S.;
  • to differentiate them from ~8600 Ukrainians interned (jailed) from 1914 to 1920 by Anglo-Canadians who feared all immigrant Germans and Ukrainians were enemy aliens;
  • to differentiate them from Dukhoborsty who were disfranchised in Canada in 1919;
  • to differentiate those in Southern California from the related 34 Spiritual Christian zealots jailed in Arizona in 1917-1918, and the 6 absolutists imprisoned in Kansas 1918-1919;
  • etc.
The above list is a brief simple outline of a complex history of hiding from discrimination, which somewhat attenuated with the end of the Cold War in the 1990s, yet persists in the minds of the most zealous today. Though the public relations ploy of diaspora Dukhizhizniki hiding behind the "Molokan" label worked, in that none were deported or interned, and most all integrated,(19) the false label persists today due to a vast number of incorrect publications since 1904, and generations of inbred fear, shame, misinformation and disinformation about their histories, scrambled faiths and identities. Because so much of this history is unclear and confused, the certainty of information in this Taxonomy will be rated as fact, a correlation, or inference; and what data may be missing, as time permits.

Similarly in Russia, being classified as Molokan qualified a non-Orthodox sect for privileges under the new evolving 1905 ukaz for religious and civil freedom, which was denied to "perverse" zealot groups similar to khlysty, like the Pryguny and Maksimisty. Therefore on both continents, non-Molokane simultaneously hijacked a false Molokan identity to get privileges, and continue the camouflage today.

Unfortunately today, many of the most zealous and vocally aggressive Dukhizhizniki stubbornly falsely retain a belief that they actually ARE Molokane, even boasting they are the "true" authentic version of Molokane. How did this happen? First marketing, then fear and shame to reveal the truth.

Naming Old Russian sects

In the Russian Empire since the 1400s, many ethnic Russians (those not Jewish, Muslim, or Buddhist) who refused the mandatory Orthodox faith for ethnic Russians called themselves dukhovnye khristiane (Spiritual Christians)(12) or other terms. The Russian Orthodox Church, government, historians and journalists called them sektanti and described them by various alleged characteristic heresies (eresi) and traits —
Government, journalists and historians sometimes confused these different faith movements with each other and the international Tolstoyan movement. The overall published documentation of the secret, illegal and charismatic sects is a tangled mess of overlapping and inconsistent labels with many generalizations.

More than a 100 descriptive labels were used for these non-Orthodox faiths, which should not be confused with the Old Orthodox faiths of staroobryadtsy (Old Ritualists) which refused to modernize, or reform to new Orthodox rituals ordered in the 1600s. They are unfortunately commonly called Old Believers, a term sometimes mistakenly applied to dukhovnye khristiane.

Some dukhovnye khristiane adapted their exonym by combining terms, like dukhovnye khristiane-molokane, dukhovnye khristiane-dukhobortsy, dukhovnye khristiane-pryguny. Some of the alleged labels were not correct, rather referred to Western sects, like kvarkeri (Quakers) and mormoni (Mormons), and many were misclassified or had no label. Many changed labels to get privileges. Many did not know what to call their illegal faith(s).

By 1900 there may have been as many as a million followers of such non-Orthodox protestant-like faiths in the Russian Empire, about 1% of the population. A major problem for the census managers was how to label them, if and when they were identified. They were a huge administrative problem. Official committees were assigned to investigate, report and propose remedies to save their souls, resulting in guidebooks for converting them to Orthodoxy and conflicting changing regional policies for governing them.

Adding to the confusion, in Old Russia many terms like molokan, khlyst, kwaker (Quaker), Stundist were often generally interchangeably used to describe any religious dissident, as synonyms. The term zamolokanil (замолоканил : molokanized) was ".. a common reference to a group that was getting disenchanted with the Greek Orthodox church, and in a manner similar to that of the Dukhobortsy was waging a struggle against the Church under the name of "Molokans."(10) The most famous writers in Old Russia popularized the word "molokan" in their works when generally referring to pacifists, wimps, heretics, law-biding citizens (do-gooders), dissidents, etc. [Examples in-progress.]

In 1805 the original Spiritual Christian Molokane were given religious freedom in a decree (order, Russian: ukaz) — Petition to the Tsar Aleksander Pavlovich, July 12, 1805. Other smaller Spiritual Christian faiths were not named in this decree. Pryguny were not named because they did aggregate until after 1833 (28 years later) and were not named until the mid-1850s (~50 years later). Freedoms for Subbotniki were given in a separate decree, and Dukhobortsy and Molokane each got separate degrees for settlement territories. A comprehensive ordered list of all decrees regarding sectarians in Old Russia does not yet appear in English. [Research in-progress.]

The Spiritual Christian Pryguny-Skakuny (Jumpers-Leapers), a new heresy faith movement, allegedly founded about 1833 (also called shalaputy) was variously labeled about 1856, about 90 years after the Molokan label appeared (~1765). Members often lived near and recruited other Spiritual Christians and faiths, and probably also wanted the 1805 freedom of religion for themselves. Some falsely claimed the label "Molokan." Many may not have realized they changed faiths. Pryguny evolved from a zealous union of several faiths and nationalities concentrated in New Russia in the Jewish Pale of Settlement, now the South Ukraine, Zaporizhia oblast, during the famine of 1833, with a focus on the Apocalypse in the "South," Palestine.(13)

It was common for exiled Orthodox sectarians and Jews in the Russian Empire to change faiths to get a privilege, often declaring conversion to the Orthodox faith to get a work or travel permit. Some sectarians changed faiths several times before arrest, which recorded their identity-changing practice.(14) The 1897 Russian census counted Pryguny as a separate group. Many times Pryguny testified to the government and reporters that they were not Molokane. [Examples in-progress.] Some Dukhizhizniki today hate Molokane for whistle-blowing, reporting that their Prygun ancestors impersonated Molokane. Some diaspora Dukhizhizniki hate this Taxonomy you are now reading because it involuntarily outs them, reveals their secret identities and gives them an accurate collective label.

Molokan misnomer in America, by Demens and Young

The "ethnic Molokan" misnomer arose again in the United States beginning in January 1905 apparently solely due to Captain Peter A. Demens (1850-1919). As a respected authority on Russia, and organizer of the informal committee in Los Angeles for immigrants from Russia, he affirmed the unverified rumor they were all Molokane and described them in positive terms. He was anxious to bring them all to Southern California, invested years of effort and a lot of money, so he whitewashed them, apparently for their own protection. Within 2 years of their mass arrival, by the end of 1906, they failed as a group to deliver as Demens bragged they would, and he diverted most of his time to personal interests.

He was probably most impressed with the real Molokane who came in January 1905. They were much more educated and better dressed than the other sects, which he also called Molokane. Real Molokane did not look like peasants. Molokan men did not have beards, dressed in suit and tie. Their leader, John Kurbatoff had a camera. Molokan women did not wear peasant clothes, nor did they cover their heads with a scarf unless needed.


Demens was probably afraid the most zealous non-Molokan Spiritual Christian faiths could be discriminated against or attacked by racist Americans, as the Svobodniki (Freedomites) were in Canada. He knew first-hand that American whites hated colored people and foreigners, and many people hated emerging Pentecostals (Holy Jumpers).

For simplicity, he promoted them using the single, easy to pronounce, unique word "Molokan", rather than their 1904 official label: "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians." White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) Americans would be confused to hear the truth, that they were mixed dukhovnye khristiane from Russia, mostly Pryguny, Klubnikinisty, Maksimisty, with minor groups of Molokane, Subbotniki, Stundisti, Sionisty and Noviy israili, and others, from about 2 dozen villages in 5 districts in Russia, who never met until they arrived in Los Angeles.

Demens marketed them with one simple brand identity, and he told W.A.S.P. American business men and politicians exactly what they wanted to hear. These immigrants from Russia were all one homogenous group of new law-abiding citizens, cheap White labor and ideal Protestant colonists, to deter objections and attract aide. In 1905, H.E. Huntington offered 30,000 acres near Los Angeles, which was rejected, probably by zealots who believed their stay in America was temporary.

Demens devoted most of a decade inviting fellow countrymen to California and personally helping them get settled. He traveled across the U.S.A. several times, inspected Dukhobor settlements in Canada, scouted Hawaii, wrote letters, published articles, hosting groups at his houses, contacted the President, traveling with them, volunteering 1000s of hours. No matter what he did, many immigrants were not satisfied and fought among themselves. After about 15 years Demens and his colleagues gave up trying to help these dukhovnye khristiane (Spiritual Christians) from Russia who eventually erased Demens from their oral history, which is now being restored here.

In the mid-1920s, sociology student Pauline V. Young (1886-1977) an immigrant Jew from Russian Poland who graduated from the University of Chicago and had worked for several social service agencies, moved to Los Angeles with her American Jewish husband, sociologist Dr. Erle F. Young, also from the University Chicago. He got a teaching job in the Sociology Department at the University of Southern California (U.S.C.), where she enrolled in the graduate program. At the time U.S.C. had the most robust sociology program on the west coast. Pauline spoke Russian, had experience working with immigrant Slavic populations, and chose to continue the research begun by Lillian Sokoloff a decade earlier, and Wycliffe a year before, on the fragmented sectarian population in East Los Angeles (today this area is called Boyle Heights). Her refugee Russian-Jewish background probably appealed to those sectarians who favored Old Testament laws, and her husband needed data on this cohort of juvenile delinquents. Though she was not hated or feared by zealots as a "pork-eater," and understood many of their holidays, facts published in her book angered many.

Though Young correctly defines her subjects as immigrants from Russia who call themselves Spiritual Christian Pryguny and use a new ritual book called Dukh i zhizn', she overwhelmingly mistakenly calls them Molokans in all her publications and lectures. She never met Molokane. Her mislabeling extensively spread the misnomer initiated by Demens 2 decades earlier, and falsely continues today.

Upon learning English, many who lived in their ethnic enclave in Los Angeles probably became afraid and ashamed to be known by their actual Russian faiths — such as Pryguny or “Jumpers” in English, Sionisty and Noviy israili about which local Jews protested in court, or by any other term except “Molokan,” though their religions were not Molokan and the most zealous despised Molokane. Unfortunately their preferred correct general term "Spiritual Christian" faded from popular usage by WWII, perhaps sounding too common or American for those who chose to live in America. In contrast, the most zealous Russian-born Maksimisty who believed they will return to Mt. Ararat before the Apocalypse, planned to leave soon, called themselves Pryguny, and were not concerned with establishing themselves in America nor hiding their faiths and ritual books.

Resurrection of Molokane in Russia

In 1991 during perestroika, Molokane in the Former Soviet Union (F.S.U.) resurrected as a legally registered faith. Some Prygun congregations in the F.S.U. registered with the Molokane to gain official status, but Dukhizhizniki did not. Diaspora Molokane in San Francisco and Sheridan, California, joined the international organization. Though all diaspora Dukhizhizniki were curious about news from the F.S.U., none joined the international Molokan organization because they knew they were not Molokane, and the most zealous obeyed a Maksimist creed which opposed the Molokan faith.

By 2000, about 90% of the descendants of Spiritual Christians around the world had abandoned practicing their heritage faiths, many joining local Protestant denominations and megachurches, which offered free literature, broadcast lessons, comfortable seating and educational services in English.

In 2005, not one Dukhizhiznik attended the 200th Anniversary of Religious Freedom communal meeting in Stavropol' province, Russian Federation, hosted by the Molokane, though many Pryguny attended and also attended the previous celebration in 1905.

In 2007 most Dukhizhiznik congregations in Russia agreed that the easiest way to differentiate themselves from the organized Molokane is to honestly identify their faiths with their common ritual book (short name: Dukh i zhizn') despite the many differences among themselves. The meaning of this new label was clear to them when shown a list of all congregations in the world being compiled. If they wanted to be published in a world directory of Spiritual Christian congregations, they did not want to be shown as Molokan, Prygun, Dukhovniye, Subbotnik, or Dukhoborets, rather as Dukhizhiznik. No other identity label was suggested, nor has been submitted (as of March 2015).

In America, extensive repetition of the "Molokan" misnomer for a century has unfortunately semantically changed, or brand-jacked, the original meaning into a broad erroneous generic term, which if used, will always need an awkward and confusing explanation, presented as a compound term: Original Molokan, Jumper-Molokan, Russian-Molokan-Jumper, Charismatic Molokan, Molokan-Prygun, Constant-Molokan, Maksimist-Molokan, … Molokan-Molokan. It is ridiculous to use false variable compound terminology when one exact word will do.

The "Molokan" term is so widely abused that some scholars, and many reporters and government officials, falsely think Molokans are a type of Orthodox or Old Believer faith (misnomer for Old Ritualists : staroobryadsty). Occasionally the term is mistaken as a non-Russian nationality. No wonder many authentic Molokane feel they are misrepresented in the press, by historians and zealous impersonators. Their confused identity has hindered the Molokane from getting recognized for their actual faith, and from getting land in the F.S.U. to build meeting halls.

Use correct labels

It's much simpler, honest and Christian, to use one correct term for each faith group, rather than hiding behind a false label popularized by those who assimilated(19) in metropolitan Southern California and are afraid to reveal their heritage faiths, or define them.

Use of the very broad Americanized "ethnic Molokan" term for any Russian immigrant (Orthodox or not) should be avoided, and substituted preferably with the original term (transliterated Russian: dukhovnye khristiane, English: Spiritual Christians) or the historic Russian Orthodox pejorative term (Russian sectarians). Though many Russian-literate readers will recognize these correct terms, writers (journalists, students, scholars) should always define them.

Use of the pejorative adjective postoyannie (постоянние : constant, steadfast, unchanged, original) for Molokane should be avoided, because it is a relative condescending descriptor, not a title or label. Some Pryguny were misled to believe that it means "no jumping allowed."(CITE) Some Dukhizhizniki use the word in an accusatory sense to infer, or state, that Molokane have committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit because they do not jump.(CITE)

Of all the faiths who call themselves Molokane, only the official international Molokan organization youth host a Molokan website — To date, only 3 other web sites in Russia are hosted by Molokane, while this one ( is the only website in English with extensive content about Molokans around the world. Many temporary web sites were started by diaspora Dukhizhizniki who falsely identified themselves as Molokane, and the few which persist are commercial or somewhat clandestine, requiring registration, as does an e-mailing list. Internet searches for the term "molokan" in any language return a mixture of web pages, many about Dukhizhizniki who claim to be Molokane. Readers beware!

Again, the purpose of this Taxonomy is to explain in detail how the misnomer was created, why it should not be used, because it is offensive and inaccurate, and to present a simple classification system of 3 unique terms for these 3 different faith groups of Spiritual ChristiansMolokan(e), Prygun(y) and Dukhizhiznik(i). In respect, and for honesty in journalism and scholarship, please use these 3 simple terms as a standard.

  1. Proper transliteration from Russian (молокан - молокане) into English : Molokan (singular) - Molokane (plural). Many spelling variations and typographical errors occur in English print (60 counted): Holokano, Malacan, Malakan, Malakane, Malakani, Malakany, Malakanys, Mallakus, Malikoffs, Malokan, Mokan, Mokans, Molachen, Molakani, Molakanes, Molakanis, Molecans, Molicans, Molikans, Moliken, Molkanes, Molkani, Molkans, Mollakane, Mollakin, Mollican, Mollicans, Mollikan, Molliken, Molloccan, Molocan, Molochan,* Molochani,* Molocons, Molokai (Hawai'ian island), Molokaian, Molokana, Molokanas, Molokanen, Molokaner, Molokanes, Molokani, Molokanies, Molokanis, Molokanist, Molokano, Molokany, Molokanye, Moloken, Molokhan, Molokhans, Molokian, Molokone, Molokons, Moloknes, Molowakan, Moluccans, Mullican, Mullikens, Molluccan, ...   Other languages have variant spellings Turkish : Malakan, Malakanlar (plural); Spanish (Mexico) Molakanos (plural), French : Les Moloque, German : Der Molokanen,
    * The variant "Moloch(s)" was used to accuse Dukhizhizniki southeast of Los Angeles of Satanic Child Abuse in 1985.

    Молокан(e) has been literally translated from Russian into English 4 different ways: milk-eater(s), milker(s), milk-drinker(s) (most common), milk people, ..

    Non-sectarian meanings for the Russian root word molokan (молокан) include:
    (1) milk-drinker, describing a young calf, other animal, baby, immature human (perhaps a non-believer of Orthodoxy);
    (2) white mushroom, a poisonous variety;
    (3) milk-weed or thistle, which oozes white sap;
    (4) Milky-waters (Молочная) river in South Ukraine which often has a chalky color due to high mineral content, but is reportedly named from translating it's original Cuman-language name (Syutten : nurse, mother) which describes the rich alluvial soil in terms of productive dairy land the watered pastures provide abundant milk from cows/sheep/goats/horses;
    (5) malo kan, a phrase segment attributed to Tsarina Elizabeth in the 1800s; and
    (6) nickname for a very light, almost white-skinned, person, like "Whitey" in English.

  2. "Confusion as to the nature of ethnicity often results from the lack of an adequate typology of ethnic groups and identities." — Definitions And Dimensions Of Ethnicity, The Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples, by Wsevolod W. Isajiw, on Multicultural Canada. This essay goes further to examine the origin of the confusion and untangle it, providing a comprehensive explanation of the typological definitions.

  3. Historically, all ethnic Russians should be Orthodox by faith because Russians believe that salvation for Russians is impossible outside of their official State Church. In Old Russia, abandoning the Orthodox faith was viewed as abandoning one's Russian nationality and citizenship, hence the myth in Armenia that dukhovnye khristiane are not real Russians because they have their own religions. (Grigorian, Mark. "A Handful of Russia in the Armenian Highlands," Hayatsk Yerevanits (A View from Yerevan) 2/23, Feb 2000, pages 20-23.)

2. Spiritual Christian Groups

Over 250 ethno-religious congregations of Spiritual Christians around the world today that are too often mis-labeled as "Molokan" are actually of 3 different religious groups — 2 denominations of Molokane and Pryguny; and diverse new religious movements of Dukhizhizniki. The mistaken label is sometimes applied to other Russian sectarian faiths, Russian Jews and Russian Orthodox. How to identify which faith is which is simple.

These 3 Spiritual Christian faiths is are easily distinguished by their liturgysongs, holidays, books and rituals.
In the Americas, they are also easily identified by location.

Dukh i zhizn' Christ's God's Yes





Dukhizhiznik1 X


1. All Maksimisty are Dukhizhizniki, but not all Dukhizhizniki are Maksimisty.
Most adapted from Russian folk songs and borrowed from German Protestants.
3. Not during service, but often during meals at weddings, funerals, child dedication, holidays
4. Open canon, a sacred text that can be modified by continuous revelation, somewhat similar to Latter Day Saint canons.
About 200 prophets since 1900, but only 4 major prophets in their Dukh i zhizn' (holy book). Each congregation has 1 or more prophets. Over 100 prophesies are recorded in secret notebooks shared with the most trusted members.
This taxonomy uses the transliterated original labels from Russian (shown in italics) because the historic Russian terms have long-established definitions. I deviate from Russian by capitalizing the labels, common in English but not capitalized in Russian. Lax translation to English, sometimes intentional, has altered original Russian meanings. For example, Spiritual Christians in Tsarist Russia never called their meeting location a tserkva (church), a term only applied to Orthodox Church buildings. In English the word "church" is used by both Orthodox/Catholics and Protestants, but not in Russia where only the Orthodox faith was legal. Because non-Orthodox faiths were illegal, most were not allowed to have prayer buildings. The major exception was in Blagoveschensk (Far East) where Molokane dominated the economy and politics, and built a large molitvenyi dom (молитвеный дом / дом молитвы : prayer house, prayer hall, assembly hall, gospel hall) or obschii dom (общий дом : community hall, assembly) for a sobranie (собрание : meeting, gathering, assembly); similar to Gospel Hall brethren. Currently in Ivanovka, Azerbaijan, the term tserkva (церква : church) is being used during interviews with young reporters who typically do not know their Russian historical terminology.

The most significant semantic translation shift in the U.S. is that the Russian term Molokan is never translated in a title or legal document as “Milk-drinker,” but Prygun is translated as “Jumper” on many legal documents while never using the Russian term. Since these faiths originated in Russia, the transliterated Russian terms should be used exclusively to preserve their original Russian meanings.

In Old Russia (before 1900) these three faith groups, and the Dukhobortsy* and others, historically called themselves Dukhhovnye khristiane (Духовные христиане : Spiritual Christians). Similar to European Protestants, these groups opposed about 90% of Russian Orthodox Church (ROC, Pravoslanoi, Православ ной — “right worship”) doctrine. For being Russian and not Orthodox, these dissenting faiths, when identified by authorities, were ruled by the ROC to be heresies (eresei : ересей), sektanty (cектанты : sectarians), sekty (cекты : sects) [from Latin secare : to cut or cut off], and given many labels which described their deviation. Over 100 labels have been used to describe dissenting sects and schismatics,** which totaled at least 10% of the Russian population.

In 1900, sectarians (non-Orthodox Russian) totaled about 1 million, or 1% of the total population of the Russian Empire. In some areas about 80% of the local population opposed the Church and/or State, particularly on the periphery — new territory, borders heavily populated by German immigrants, sectarians and schismatics. In Russia no Germans were Orthodox, except by intermarriage.

Often several labels are applied to the same people or different peoples, which adds to historic confusion, especially when the subjects use different labels or interpretations than authorities — for example: Luidi Bozhe (God's People, People of God, Christ-faith) versus Khlysty (Whips, Flagellants, self-castigators). No one in Old Russia ever self-identified by saying: "I am a khlyst," according to Dr. Clay who did his Ph.D. thesis about this sect.(11)

People often migrated among the sects and intermarried, changing their affiliation. Some Spiritual Christians adopted the ROC labels self-redefined, like Dukhhovnye khristiane-molokane. These 3-word labels were often shortened to the latter term used by the ROC, like molokane.

* Spiritual Christian Dukhobortsy in Russia divided into 3 groups named by size and leader. The most zealous third who moved to Canada further divided into 3 different groups by leader and obeying new laws. See Taxonomy of Spiritual Christian Doukhobors (In-Progress).

** Note that raskol'niki (schismatics, раско́лники) — Starovery (Old Believers), better called Staroobriadtsy (Old Ritualists) — are also often called “sects” in English but rarely in Russian. In 1900, about 10% of the Russian population were raskol'niki. In the late 1800s, Western journalists often used “sect” in a broad manner to refer to a particular religion, like "Russian Orthodox sect" or "Mormon sect." Some reporters today confuse Molokane with Old Believers, probably thinking the term means “old faith.” For a comprehensive overview of Russian sectarian history see: A.I. Klibanov, History of Religious Sectarianism in Russia (1860s-1917).

In 1906, after the failure of the Molokan Settlement Association in Hawaii, "Molokans" were ridiculed as "Adullamites," a "primitive Christianity," "vagrants," and "worthless."

Unlike those who document them, practicing Molokane and Pryguny in Russia and San Francisco, California, never confused their own faiths. Historic records indicate that confusion about who or what is Molokan began in the U.S. immediately upon immigration in mid-1904 to Los Angeles, California, of relatively small numbers (less than 1%) of total Spiritual Christians whose leaders from Russia declared they were a united brotherhood of various Spiritual Christians. The first such label in print was "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians," which was soon modified, variously adding and/or deleting: "Jumper," "Pryguny," "Molokan," "Russian," "Sectarian," and "Brotherhood." (Research in-progress.)

The mixture of various non-Orthodox Spiritual Christian immigrants from Russia in Los Angeles could have and probably described themselves by many terms in Russia in 1900 and upon immigration when they first met other faiths (tribes, bands), such as:
  1. Baptisty (Baptists)
  2. Davidisty, (followers of David Evseich Bulgakov)
  3. Dukhoborsty (Spirit-wrestlers)
  4. Evangelisty (Evangelicals, Evangelic Christians), similar to 13
  5. Iconobortsy (Iconoclasts)
  6. Ierusalim (Jerusalem)
  7. Klistovstchina, Khlysty (Whips, Flagellates), same as 10
  8. Klubnikinisty (followers of E.G. Klubnikin)
  9. Zhidovstvuyushchiye (Judaizers)
  10. Lyudi bozhii (People of God), same as 7
  11. Maksimisty (followers of M.G. Rudomyotkin), same as 17
  12. Molokane (Milk-drinkers during Lent)
  13. Novomolokane (New Molokans, Presbyterians, Evangelicals)
  14. Novyi izrail' (New Israel)
  1. Obshchei (Communal)
  2. Pivovarovsty (followers of M.P. Pivovaroff)
  3. Pryguny (Jumpers) similar to 20
  4. Rudomyokinisty (Rudomyokinites), same as 11
  5. Sion, Sionisty (Zion, Zionists)
  6. Skakuny (Leapers, Hoppers), similar to 17
  7. Staroobradsty (Old Ritualists)
  8. Staroverie(Old Believers) same as previous
  9. Stundisty (Stundists-Presbyterians)
  10. Svobodniki (Freedomites) same as 25
  11. Svobodnye Khristiane (Free Christians)
  12. Subbotniki (Sabbatarians, Saturday People)
  13. Tolstoyan (followers of Lev N. Tolstoy)
  14. Vodiyanie (water baptizers)
  15. etc.
To report or imply that all these different immigrating groups (bands or tribes) from Russia are collectively one huge homogenous group of "Molokans" is non-sense, obviously not correct, but has unfortunately happened too many times and continues as a convenience for writers who are either uninformed, misinformed, non attentive, or intentionally misleading the reader.

Some of these labels (1-27 above) have specific meanings used only among the most zealous Dukhizhizniki, while the meaning and use of other terms has been forgotten or obscured in their oral tradition. For one example, #6 (Ierusalem) and #27 (Sion) are opposites in Prygun and Dukhizhizniki history. Some diaspora Dukhizhizniki in Los Angeles define Sion as those "saved" by the prophesy of E.G. Klubnikin because they migrated to California from 1904 to 1912 (before the Revolution); and, in contrast, their definition of Ierusalem, is the 99% of Spiritual Christians who stayed in Russia, and are not spiritually saved. These definitions have nothing to do with the use of "Zion" by outsiders. In contrast, many Maksimisty in Russia believe that those who left for America abandoned "their" Holy Land near Mount Ararat. In short, each conflicting Dukhizhiznik faith (band, tribe ) believes they are "saved" and/or "chosen" in their own way in their own territory, and sometimes defined with their own religious terms.The only obvious commonality is their holy book.

Individuals could claim or be assigned multiple labels. Except for the term Molokane, many of these labels in America could easily suggest they were a mystical Russian sect, or confused with strange minority faiths often in the national press, like: Quakers*, Shakers*, Mormons*, Jews*, nudes**, the holiness movement (Zion City, House of David, Burning Bush, God's Elect, Bridal Church of the First Born of God, etc.), Spiritualists, or queer (abnormal) radical Pentecostal apostolic religions in North America, nick-named: Angel Dancers, Barking Baptists, Dancers, Dancing Mania, Flying Rollers, Happy-clappy, High Jumpers, Holy Ghosters, Holy Jumpers, Holy Kickers, Holy Rollers, Hoppers, Jerkers, Pentecostal Dancers, Ranters, Rollerism, Rollerites, Rollers, Tangled Tonguers, Tongue Baptizers, etc.
* Similarly, each of these terms are simple misnomers used by outsiders as short, easy to pronounce, one-word labels for a general collection of somewhat similar or affiliated faiths, which few outsiders understand.
** Nudes — Zealot faction that split from immigrant Dukhobortsy in Canada, who maintained an absolute belief in independence from government. Active for a century, they were popularized in international news for nude protests, burnings and bombings, resulting in sensational press and photos of "nude Douks" and "dirty Douks." In 1902 these protesters called themselves svobodniki (свободники, free men) which was Anglicized as "Freedomites." By 1918 the Community Dukhobortsy called them goli (nudes). By 1924 the press called them "Sons of Freedom."
In 1912, a 20-years study was published attempting to list and summarize all religions in the U.S.: The Religious Forces of the United States: Enumerated, Classified, and Described, by H.K. Carroll, Superintendent of the U.S. Census of the Churches, who used census and denomination supplied data. [in-progress]

Russian-speaking immigrants living in urban clusters on the east side of downtown Los Angeles were fractionated by faith, territory, dialect, ancestry, nationality, intermarriage, education, wealth, etc. By broad faith or ethno-confessional group, they were Russian Jews, Armenian Apostolic, Armenian Protestant, Russian Orthodox, or non-Orthodox-non-Jewish from Russia (includes : Spiritual Christians, Evangelical Christians, Baptist, Shtundist, Presbyterian, ...). By nationality many were not ethnic Russians, rather people who immigrated from Russia, of mixed ancestry.

Newspapers rarely specified which religious group(s) or nationality they were reporting about as "the Russians," "the Russian colony," "the Russian community," "Russian Village," "Russian-town," "little Russia," "Russian Flats," "Slav colony," etc.; and sometimes: "foreign quarter." In the early 1900s, only two researchers tried to document the differences among the various immigrants from Russia — Sokoloff (1918) and Speek (1921); and this taxonomy continues where they left off, 90 years later.

Widespread confusion results from publicity of Pauline V. Young's theses (1926, 1928), articles (1928, 1929), and book (1932) in which she specifically describes people who use the ritual book Kniga solntse, dukh i zhizn', believe in a prophet Maksim G. Rudomyotkin, were Pryguny, yet she calls them "Molokans" 890 times in her book and nearly exclu sively uses that term in articles, lectures in class and public, and in testimony to government agencies. Her use of the the word Molokan in print is about 1500 count. Multiply that many times for her verbal usage and citations of her work. She never visited real Molokane in San Francisco, did not understand, or ignored, the contextual meaning of Postoyannie, yet she cited both Sokoloff and Speek who documented these different groups. It appears that she may have intentionally camouflaged her subjects to protect them.

Another U.S.C. graduate student documented the Orthodox Russians in Los Angeles, then became a professor at Occidental College (Day, George Martin. The Russians in Hollywood: A Study in Culture Conflict. University of Southern California Press, 1934, 101 pages). Though Day copied the Molokan misnomer from his professor Dr. Young, he differentiated among "Molokans" and non-Molokans ("Russian Jews" and "anti-bolshevik political exiles") in his Ph.D. thesis (page 1).

In Los Angeles, all Russian-born groups were represented in the Flats and Boyle Heights districts. Elsewhere in Southern California there were clusters of Russian Jews, Russian Orthodox, and non-Orthoodox non-Jewish Russians. To date, no comprehensive census study has attempted to segregate or map all these various Russian-born clusters in Los Agneles as was done in San Francisco (by Tripp), and a lack of specificity has allowed sloppy historians to lump them together with false labels. In 1918, a Russian-speaking Home Teacher, Lillian Sokoloff, published the only population survey of immigrants from Russian in her school district (The Russians in Los Angeles). No comparable follow-up study has been done.

A further complication is that descendants of immigrants soon divided, among various faiths and by assimilation(19) path — brother marries Russian Baptist, sister marries zealous Dukhizhiznik, son graduates college marries "outsider", daughter marries Prygun but attends "American" Christian church, parents divorce and one remarries "in" the other marries "out." To label all these people "Molokans" by faith is obviously not correct. They are descendants of Spiritual Christians from Russia, who were misled to believe they were something else.

Discrimination of American "Holy Jumpers"
  • In April 1904, months before the first group of Spiritual Christian settlers from Russia (mostly Pryguny) arrived in Los Angeles (end of May, early June), American “Holy Jumpers” at the Gospel Mission, 739 Kohler street, were persecuted by residents and by Los Angeles police. After many neighbors complained about disturbing the peace at night, a policeman threatened to dynamite their meeting. Though the policeman was reprimanded, the American “Holy Jumpers” were evicted from the building and denied (freedom of speech) city permits to preach on the street. Their location was 1 mile southwest of the Bethlehem Institutions that hosted many immigrants, including Spiritual Christians from Russia.
  • During May-June 1904, 8 families of about 40 Pryguny led by Vasili Gav. Pivovaroff arrived in Los Angeles. In a published translated interview by de Blumenthal, Pivovaroff presented his people only as a "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians." (Los Angeles Herald, July 17, 1904, page III-6) Pivovaroff did not use the terms Molokane or Pryguny.
  • In August 1904, American "Holy Jumpers" groups were bullied out of San Bernadino and Redlands, California, which was reported several times in California newspapers.
  • In January 1905, Los Angeles newspapers' false reports of a mass immigration from Russia varied by reducing numbers, while news about American "Holy Jumpers" intensified:
    • Jan 6 — Police rescued a 16-year old Italian girl from the leader of the "Holy Jumpers" sect at 315 South Olive street, 1 mile east of the Bethlehem Institutions.
    • Jan 13 — 300,000 Russian Quakers coming to Los Angeles county (equal to the county population)
    • Jan 19 — 200,000 Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians, Molokane and Priguni, jumpers coming to Los Angeles (equal to the city population)
    • Jan 23 — At (Orthodox) Russian headquarters on Western Ave, a secret Russian army of 200 prepared to return to Russia to protect the Tsar.
    • Jan 25 — The Police Chief is investigating complaints about noisy American "Holy Jumpers" disturbing the peace during frequent gatherings at the new Apostolic Faith Mission, 312 Azusa Street (1/2 block southeast of San Pedro and 1st streets), about 1/2 mile southwest of the Bethlehem Institutes.
    • Jan 27 — "Advance Guard of 15,000 ... 'Molokane' ... Colonize Here"... 200,000 total (equal to the city population) ...
  • In February-March 1905, for 6 weeks 2000 American evangelicals held revival meetings and marched through the East-side slums to save the sinners and wayward Christians. 400+ Spiritual Christian immigrants from Russia witnessed the American Christian revival march as more arrived from Russia. Bethlehem Institutes hosted the revival marchers.
  • In July 1906 the Los Angeles Express reported: ".. “Holy Rollers” contemplate making sacrifices of children, to appease the wrath of God, .. timid women are keeping close watch over their little ones ..."
  • Hostility against charismatic spiritual jumping religions was reported in major California newspapers for decades, re-surging several times, causing the urban Spiritual Christian zealots to further retrench, in fear of outsiders.
In 1905 in Los Angeles, those who volunteered to host the announced hundreds of thousands of Spiritual Christian immigrants from Russia must have been aware that many Americans hated "Holy Jumpers," and advised them not to use that term in English. Yet, the most zealous members of the various arriving Spiritual Christian faiths insisted on calling themselves Pryguny and "Holy Jumpers" in the news for more than 50 years, while the assimilating(19) majority preferred to falsely hide behind the safer "Molokan" label.

Despite religious discrimination against fanaticism, and prejudice against illegal and unwanted immigrants, the variety of developing and evolving Pentecostal churches in California provided a somewhat welcoming environment for the most zealous Spiritual Christians (primarily the Pryguny and other zealots faiths). Due to Demens' promotion, in their first years they were temporarily compared to the “founding fathers” of America, the “Pilgrims,” for fleeing oppressive Russian Orthodoxy to form religious colonies in the new country and in Hawai'i. In Los Angeles, many Spiritual Christians attended American evangelical Christian services in local churches and tent revivals, praying and jumping (with Negroes), often with translation from English to Russian. Interfaith visits occurred. The most zealous Spiritual Christian immigrants learned that others in this new world also shared their beliefs about manifestations of the Holy Spirit (spiritual baptism, visions, trances, jumping, raising hands, speaking in tongues, healing, casting out demons), Zion, millennium, and plainness (spartan prayer house architecture, worship, and dress). But the rural peasant heritage traditions of the most zealous in Los Angeles clashed with government and urban life, as it did among the zealous Svobodniki in central Canada.

Many wanted to return home where they had freedom from mandatory education, freedom to arrange marriages, freedom not to register (marriages, births or deaths), freedom to sing loud and jump all night, and clusters of rural villages of relatives with whom they lived simple lives for generations near Mt. Ararat praying for their Apocalypse. Most important for Maksimisty was their prophesy to join both their leader M.G. Rudomyotkin (Рудомёткин) and Jesus Christ on Mt. Ararat or to be buried nearby.

In the Summer of 1906, their most zealous prophet in Los Angeles, Afonasy T. Bezayeff, became alarmed about news of the San Francisco earthquake (April 1906) and 3-day fire. After seeing many drunks and destitute people in the Los Angeles courthouse during his son's court hearing, Bezayeff prophesied an earthquake in Los Angeles, because God was going to punish the wicked. He ordered all Spiritual Christians in Los Angeles to flee to the mountains, similar to what M.G. Rudomyotkin did before he was jailed. Public health authorities intervened preventing a mass panic. Later Bezayeff was alarmed about the mixing of cultures in Los Angeles and, while standing on a woodpile at a lumberyard where he worked (possibly in the San Pedro area), he declared (prophesied) that all Spiritual Christians must close their services to non-believers and stop contact with the false faiths of the world, yet he never moved from Los Angeles and drilled his followers to conduct spiritual marches to City Hall. He also initiated (via the Holy Spirit) placing the new ritual book: Kniga solntse, dukh i zhizn' on the alter tables of all congregations in Los Angeles after 1928 as a Third Testament to their Old Russian Bible, while some believed their new holy book replaced the New Testament.

Was it Bezayeff who prophesied to burn all photographs? My grandmother Sasha Shubin reported watching people in The Flat(s) dump boxes of family photos into incinerators, in many backyards. She disobeyed the prophesy and kept her photos hidden for decades. A frenzy burning of histories and diaries also occurred among the zealous German Jumpers (Heufers) in Tavria. (Citation) Many of the behaviors of Bezayeff, as reported by Berokoff and the press, appear similar to symptoms of brain disorders.

In Los Angeles, the Americanizing Spiritual Christian youth needed a neutral unique identity for several critical reasons, if they were to stay in the city:
  • to facilitate their assimilation and integration(19) in schools, parks, in public, at work, etc.;
  • to mediate hostility against them as strange religions and foreigners, not to appear as "enemy aliens" or pagans;
  • to prevent deportation, as was done to 100s of unwanted poor Russian Jews, Russian Bolsheviks, or other "undesirable immigrants";
  • to prevent internment, as was done from 1914 to 1920 to 8,600 Ukrainians in Canada; and
  • to prevent disfranchisement, as was done in 1917 to Dukhobortsy in Canada, and others.
The term “Molokan” was undoubtedly selected for its simple-to-pronounce neutrality and uniqueness by those who chose to maintain their various ancestral religious dogma even though they were not Molokan by faith. The word has no difficult consonants or diphthongs, and is easy to pronounce in most any language.

They did not use the English translation, “Milk-Drinker,” which is confusing if used for a group identity; rather, they kept the Russian term which Demens repeatedly used. Explaining that Molokan means "milk-drinker" could enhance association with whiteness, goodness. By habit and wide misuse, the definition broadened to include nearly all non-Orthodox immigrants from Russia in America — hijacking the word for a century from the real Molokane.

During their 100+ years in America, self-use of the terms “Jumper(s)” and Prygun(y) diminished rapidly, falsely replaced by "Molokan" and variant combinations. Hopefully, use of the descriptive internationally recognized term Dukhizhizniki will increase in this century, the 2000s, with education. It is expected that most diaspora will initially be reluctant, even refuse, to officially accept a label that accurately describes their secret faith. The faith will no longer be a secret. They will have to define it by publicly explaining their secret book, as was done in Arizona in 1915 and forgotten.

After nearly a century of imposing upon and being offensive to Molokane and Pryguny, users of the book Dukh i zhizhn' should take ownership of this international label which uniquely defines only them. Dukhizhizniki have no need to hide any longer, except those who remain indoctrinated with fear and believe they must obey an old order, from Rudomyotkin in prison to his followers in Erevan guberniya, to hide from the world, while ignoring the fact that they now live in a free country and Rudomyotkin's order for secrecy was made in a different time (about 150 years ago) and place (Old Russia) to people who died long ago.

3. “Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians” in 1902, 1904, 1907

In 1898, the name Christians of the Universal Brotherhood was used by the minority of Dukhobortsy who left the Russian Empire in 1899. The leader of most who left Russia, P.V. Verigin, later incorporated the name Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood (CCUB). In 1900, another breakaway group in Canada called themselves the Society of Universal Brotherhood to protest Canadian laws, and to petition to move to the U.S. in 1901.

In 1902, the Rev. Dr. Dana Bartlett met a traveling member of the "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians" which he described in his first book, The Better City (September 1907) on pages 79-81. On page 229 he reported "the Bethlehem building .. for a year .. was the meeting place for the Russian Church, known as the Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians." On page 76A see photo: "Our Russian Neighbors From the Transcaucasus." In this book, Bartlett only used these 2 terms — "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians" and "Russians" to describe the immigrants.

Upon arrival in mid 1904, the Prygun leader Vasili G. Pivovaroff introduced his first group in Los Angeles as the "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians." No other terms were used to identify his faith other than saying that they were from Russia. In December 1904, when V.G. Pivovaroff performed his first wedding in Los Angeles, the press only identified the "little band of Russian exiles" as "brotherhood" (3 times), while using the term "Russian(s)" 17 times. Actually, they were probably a mixture of nationalities and faiths from Russia.

By mid January 1905, international news from Europe via New York reported that 300,000 Russian Quakers, "Molokanys", were coming to Los Angeles. The county government was facing a tsunami herd of peasants, which would double their county population. The educated, wealthy aristocrat Russian immigrants already established in Los Angeles (Demens, de Blumenthals, Cherbak, and associates), probably by invitation from government, began to advocate for their fellow country men and branded all factions of immigrant Spiritual Christians in California collectively as “Molokane / Molokans” when speaking to the press and governments. These advisers must have known that American “Holy Jumpers” were hated in Los Angeles, evicted from Southern California, and a policeman threatened to dynamite them. Also, they may not have been openly befriended by the more secretive zealous faiths that planned to return to Mt. Ararat. The press was confused about what to call them — Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians? Jumpers? Pryguny? Quakers? Molokane? Russians? All 6 terms were used with various spellings, and occasionally other terms like Dukhobor.

Companies which invested in large agricultural colonies for these immigrants from Russia were confounded as to why they immediately divided into groups and quarreled, causing a farm colony to fail before it could start. Oral history by J.K. Berokoff, reports that in 1904 a mystery woman was insulted while trying to give them land and withdrew her offer. In 1906 in Hawai'i, when the host plantation realized their “Molokans” were actually 3 opposing groups, Demens telegraphed that “Molokans” in Los Angeles came from " .. 5 distinct provinces, perhaps 15 different localities, and 20 to 25 villages .. strangers thrown together .." The first combined Spiritual Christian farm colony experiment in Hawai'i returned within 6 months. In 1910 Cherbak organized a meeting of all Spiritual Christians on the Pacific Coast to help them jointly purchase a ~50 square mile tract along the Central California coast for all to settle, as many elders had requested. Though they had the money, Cherbak reported 12 leaders confronting him resulting in the well-funded huge colony of Spiritual Christians never starting. H.E. Huntington tried to help Spiritual Christians colonize in California, offering up to 30,000 acres, but gave up. In Arizona there were 4 congregations up to 1920, on more than 8 square miles, and 2 until about 1950. In the 1930s there was a failed effort to unite all in Los Angeles into a bolshaya sobraniya (big assembly, English slang: "Big Church"); only half of the 6 immigrant congregations joined, and none of the Armenian Pryguny or Subbotniki. Later in Los Angeles, 2 of the dissenting congregations divided; and similar adjacent faith divisions reoccur today in central Oregon and in rural Central California near Kerman and Porterville. The trend among Dukhizhizniki is to divide, not unite, whereever they congregate (U.S.A., Australia, Russia, Armenia). Clearly these are many different faiths which must be addressed with precise labels.

After August 1906 most Molokane , led by those returning from Hawai'i, resettled in and near San Francisco.

In September 1915 in Los Angeles, Shanin and Kobziv published their first songbook: Пѣсенникъ (Pesennik), По соглосiю Прыгунской Духовной Братстим (Po soglasiyu Prygunskoi Dukhovnoi Bratstim : By agreement with the Jumper Spiritual Brotherhood).

In 1917, V. I. Holopoff, one of the pioneer migration scouts since 1900, entered his religion on a government form as "Brotherhood" with no room to write more; while the Pryguny identified themselves in a petition and letters to the US government as "Spiritual Christians-Jumpers." In 1917 an Arizona newspaper editorial stated:
"Russian religious zealots, called Molokans, or Molokani, .. may be properly termed the Protestants of Russia. They call themselves Spiritual Christians." (Bold added) ("The Molokans," Bisbee Daily Review, June 14, 1917, page 4.)
In 1918, American John Valov reported his religion as "Russian Spiritual Christian" to the Red Cross. This “Brotherhood,” in various forms, published the Dukh i zhizhn' in 1928, and is shown on government letters from 1940 through 1945 (Berokoff, Addenda XVII). After the 1940s the term "Brotherhood" was not used in print. Why? What changed? Fear and/or shame?

After most Molokane relocated to San Francisco in 1906, a tug-a-war over the use of Pryguny occurred in Los Angeles as the younger Americanized generation adopted “Molokan” and/or abandoned their Russian faiths to be American, while a zealous minority trying to publish a holy book transformed into what became opposing and competing Dukhizhiznik faiths, which lacked a label for over 75 years.

The least zealous Spiritual Christians (Molokane, Subbotniki, Armenian Pryguny, etc.), who were marginalized by the more zealous Dukhizhizniki, integrated(19) faster. The term Pryguny was apparently applied publicly to the most zealous, then nearly vanishes in favor of the terms Molokan and/or Russian Spiritual Christian, for all factions, or "Molokan Christian", and eventually to just the single term “Molokan.”

The "Molokan" label was desired because is was unique, simple, and translated as “milk-drinkers,” probably to project harmless wholesome White Christian Protestant people for the "White Spot of America," Los Angeles, "the best advertised city in the United States." It is strange that this is the only label that these Spiritual Christians insisted must be preserved in Russian transliteration, rather than the English "Milk-Drinker," while all other labels are translated, or transformed into more socially acceptable English forms — like "church" for meeting / prayer hall / assembly.

Public signs

The false Molokan label probably began to appear in public view on a main street in 1933 when "Big Church" was moved from the Flat(s) to Lorena Street. Signs at cemeteries also mixed the labels, but did not show Prygun or Jumper in English, only Prygun in Cyrillic. In the past 2 decades Dukhizhiznik elders have been intentionally mis-reading the Russian term Prygun as Molokan in English to alter and/or fabricate a false history for non-Russian literates.

"Big Church"
Click to ENLARGE
Sign facing Lorena street at "Big Church," 1946: "First United
Christian Molokan Church of Spiritual Jumpers"
Photo: Samarin, P.I.
(ed.) The Molokan Review, v1.7, Los Angeles CA, August 1946, page 17.

Click to
The words "of Spiritual Jumpers" are absent in this
1951 photo of the sign on the "Big Church" assembly.

Los Angeles Examiner, September 24, 1951,

After 1933, the label “Spiritual Jumpers” in English only remained in public view on the front sign (above) of "Big Church" (Bol'shaya sobraniya, Lorena Street). The building was demolished about 2000 because it was not earthquake safe, and the congregation not preserve their sign or label probably because they did not feel comfortable/safe with it in public view.

Into the 1980s, the Russian term Прыгун (Prygun) remained on the first old cemetery sign (below, left), on 2nd Street near Eastern Ave, East Los Angeles. The "Old Cemetery" did not refurbish or replace their sign which misspelled dukhovnykh khristiyan prygunov (Spiritual Christian Jumpers) on top in Russian. The young zealot generation is afraid to be known, "on display" as some explain. The format of the sign suggests that 2 different faiths, labeled in 2 languages, are combined in 1 display Pryguny in Russian, and Molokan in English — though neither is correct.

Click to ENLARGE
Sign at "Old Cemetery," 1980, removed soon after this photo.
Photo: Conovaloff, A.J., The 1980 Молокан Directory, Clovis CA, page 252.
                            to ENLARGE
Sign on "New Cemetery" office, 2011.
Photo: Conovaloff, Andrei.

At the newer Slauson Ave cemetery, the Prygun label only appears in public view in Russian on one metal (cast brass) sign (above right), but omitted in the English translation, again showing 2 wrong faiths displayed in 2 languages on 1 sign. The Russian says: Kladbische russkikh khristianskikh molokan-dukhovnykh pryunov = Cemetery of Russian Christian Molokan-Spiritual Jumpers. Contrary to the sign, this cemetery is recorded with the State of California as “Russian Molokan Christian Spiritual Jumpers Cemetery Association, Inc.” Using the words Molokan and Prygun together is like saying dog-cat or banana-apple. Which do you really mean, or do yo mean both? In reality neither faith controls this cemetery. It was purchased about 1939 and controlled only by Dukhizhizniki. There are no congregations of Molokane or Pryguny in Southern California, and if there were they would not be allowed to used this cemetery today.

Sign in Suzdal, Russia

In 1997 and 1999, two American Dukhizhiznik preceptors independently published photos of a monastery jail dormitory museum sign in Suzdal Russia, showing where Maksim Rudmyotkin stayed from 1860 to 1877. Morrie M. Pivovaroff (Kerman CA) made a video of his July 1997 heritage tour to retrace Rudomyotkin's life. In 1999 Daniel H. Shubin (Shafter CA) published a photo of a similar sign he took during his similar heritage tour to Russia in September 1997. Both deceptively presented and/or claimed the Russian word Prygun is read/ pronounced Molokan in English, as if they intended to fool non-Russian readers.

While videotaping the room in a Suzdal monastery where Rudometkin slept, Pivovaroff pointed his camera to a small sign on the outside wall next to the door which clearly read:
Начальник сектов молокан (molokan) Семён Шветов (Shvetsov) 1835-1844 гг.
Начальник сектов кавказский пригунов (prygunov) Максим Рудомёткин (Rudomyotkin) 1860-1877 гг.

Head of the molokan sect Semyon Shvetsov 1835-1844.
Head of the Caucasion sect of jumpers Maksim Rudomyotkin 1860-1877.
He falsely narrated that his "Molokan" martyr Maksim Rudomyotkin stayed in this room, which he could not believe was so nice. The sign says: пригунов, genitive plural for пригун : prygun. Russian literate viewers could see that he misread the sign and ignored the man also listed on the sign identified as Molokan, Semyon Shvetsov. I corrected this error among many mistakes when I proofed his video, but don't know if my suggestions and data were edited into the final version intended for his family.

Click to ENLARGE

Later the same year, D.H. Shubin got a photo of a similar sign (above) at the same monastery, which he published in 1999 on page 2 of his Guide to the [Book of the Sun,] Spirit and life with Supplements (253 pages). The image above shows most of page 2 (facing the title page 3), with the sign enlarged to clearly show that the caption in English misrepresents the Russian text in the photo.

The Russian text translated to English:
Chief elder of the skoptsy sects, Kondratii Selivanov, 1820-1833.
Chief of the molokan sects, Semyon Shvetsov, 1835-1844.
Chief of the Caucasian prygun sects, Maksim Rudomyotkin, 1860-1877.
In the caption (above) the label prygun for Rudomyotkin is obviously omitted. In his Guide Shubin presents no data about Molokan leader Shvetsov or skoptsy, rather focuses primarily on Rudomyotkin whom he intentionally falsely claims is of a different faith than what is posted on the sign or shown on official documents reproduced and translated 13 times in his chapter 7. Throughout his Guide Shubin repetitively mis-guides the reader by extensively using a false label in his first 6 chapters (pages 1-87), and last 3 chapters 8-10 (footnotes on pages 159-253).

Among the 68 pages of translated archival documents from Russia regarding Rudomyotkin (chapter 7, pages 88-155), the term Prygun(y) (пригун(ы)) appears 13 times; and the term Molokan appears only once as an error, added in small script on the last document (pages 154-155), a death notice. All these Russian records report Rudomyotkin was a Prygun, and the "chief spreader(24) of the 'Spirituals' (o dukh) or 'Jumpers' (prygun) sect in the Caucasus" (pages 90-91).

In contrast, the term Molokan(s) appears 108 times in his Guide, including 18 times joined in phrase (Molokan Jumpers), compared to Jumper(s) appearing separately only 3 times (pages 5, 34, and 51), ignoring the archival documents. In the discussion text and footnotes, the authors of the Spirit and Life are falsely presented 36 times more often (108/3 = 36) with the wrong faiths than their actual faiths — 97% of occurrences (108/111 = 0.973). Also, the Book of the Sun, Spirit and Life is mentioned 76 times, and Rudomyotkin 487 times (333 by name, 154 by "MGR" citation) nearly twice per page (487/253=1.93) on average.

If a comprehensive index is added and corrections for labeling bias, translation, and irregular and missing citations, this book can become a good study guide for diaspora Dukhizhizniki.

Are these 2 Dukhizhiznik teachers (preceptors, front-row speakers) intentionally misleading their students, confused about their religious history and identity, both, or something else?

4. Is Molokan one faith, many faiths, an ethnic group, or a non-Russian nationality?

Answer: all of the above, depending on who is using the term. After a century of misuse in North America the Russian term “molokan” has unfortunately lost it's original meaning, which must be restored to make sense of the history of Spiritual Christians and to intelligently discuss them. It's like saying dogs are cats, or bananas are apples, or girls are boys; because you don't know the difference, or don't want to know the difference, or don't want to discuss the issue, or are emotionally incapable of dealing with facts, or something else.

In Old Russia, Molokan was a single, non-Orthodox religion the original faith (Definition 1, below). The word was sometimes used to describe any sectarian (Definition 2) or anyone suspected of having sectarian characteristics (Definition 6). After 1900 in Southern California American English, it was falsely broadly used to label all immigrating non-Orthodox (sectarian) faiths from Old Russia and their descendants, an ethnic group and a different family of religions that opposed the Molokan faith (Definition 4). After 1930 these mistakes were transferred from the U.S. to the Soviet Union and Turkey where the most zealous expanded it to label themselves a non-Russian nationality (Definition 5). After about 1980, the most popular definition was falsely narrowed to mean only the Dukhizhiznik faiths (Definition 3).

The misuses and abuses of the term are very confusing and should be corrected to correspond with the original meanings properly used in the 1800s and earlier, before the label and original identities were corrupted in North America and exported.

6 Definitions used for the term "Molokan"
  1. Original Faith (RIGHT) — Molokan is the original Russian religion led and/or founded by Simyon Uklein, labeled about 1765 as a heresy by the Russian Orthodox Church. Nearly all congregations united since 1992 are members of one worldwide organization headquartered in Stavropol province, Russian Federation, with one main U.S. congregation in San Fransisco, California and an affiliated congregation in Sheridan CA. People who are members of congregations affiliated with the Souiz dukhovnykh khristiane — molokan (S.D.K.M.), Russian: “Union of Spiritual Christian Molokans” (U.S.C.M.), Союз духовных христиан — молокан (СДКМ), are real Molokane.

  2. Many Faiths (WRONG) — The "Molokan" term became an easy-to-pronounce "catch-all" category used to refer to all Spiritual Christian immigrants from Russia in North America. In Russia catch-all terms are sekt, molokan and kwaker; but in Canada it is its Doukhobor. In Russia, Spiritual Christians coveted the Molokan reputation and claimed the name, while the Orthodox decreased creating a new name for each sect and reused familiar names. Upon emigration to North America, many faiths were incorrectly called "Molokan" (and "Russian Quaker" among other terms) in the press, and most of the assimilating(19) members either did not know their own identity, or preferred that name and history instead of their own embarrassing history and translated Russian labels. In Los Angeles, the most literate assimilated(19) youth, who filed incorporation papers for congregations and organizations, had more control to choose legal names in English devised to deter investigation and deportation, and protect their careers, while appeasing the lesser assimilated(19) uneducated elders. In Canada, Doukhobors were extensively tainted by a breakaway minor group of protestors who had been shown in press photos in the nude, and tried to migrate to the U.S. to join with other Spiritual Christan faiths. Though in the 1920s the breakaway protesting faction in Canada identified themselves as svobodiki (свободники : "free men" later called Freedomites), the most sensationalistic press persistently mislabeled them "Doukhobors," except for those who moved to Los Angeles who were then mistakenly called "Molokans." To avoid confusion, use the original Russian faith name, if known, or the original general terms "Spiritual Christian" and/or dukhovnye khristiane.

  3. Dukhizhiznik Faiths (WRONG) — In 1928 in Los Angeles, an amalgamated cluster of faiths was formed which all use a common holy book titled: Kniga solnste, dukh i zhizn'. These faiths did not have a proper label until 2007. Before 2007 they falsely used, and continue to falsely use, the term Molokan to define only themselves, while dissing real Molokane with an epithet, often pejorative, Russian nickname: Postoyannie.(17)

  4. Ethnic Group (WRONG) — People who descended from the many faiths, who were falsely told, or assumed by lineage, that their heritage was "Molokan" instead of "Spiritual Christian," repeated the mistake by telling their descendants that they too were "Molokan" by heritage. They did not teach their descendants a Molokan religion because they were not Molokan by faith and knew very little, if anything, about the actual Molokan faith. This unique ethnonym spread to thousands who assimilated,(19) intermarried, and joined other faiths in America. They shared the simple one-word false label and fragments of oral history about a few Russian cultural objects (songs, loshka, rubashka, kosinka, ...), foods (borsch, lapsha, kheb, nachinki, chai, ...), familiar terms (babuniya, dyeda, sobaka, voda, zdarova), etc, as a diverse pretend ethnic group with many conflicting faiths. Descendants of Spiritual Christians should merely state the original Russian name of the faith or group of their ancestors (if they know it), who were collectively all dukhovnye khristiane, Spiritual Christians. When they do not know the exact faith, or village of their ancestors, it is most accurate for these descendants to state something like:
    1. "my ancestors who immigrated from Russia were of a Spiritual Christian faith, not Orthodox," or
    2. "my ancestors came from Russia, but were not of the Orthodox faith, more like Russian Protestants" or
    3. "my ancestors were non-Orthodox people in Russian who called themselves Spiritual Christians," or
    4. "my ancestors were non-dukhobor Spiritual Christians from Russia," or
    5. "my ancestors were indigenous Protestants in Russia who immigrated before the Revolution, and some were not ethnic Russians."

  5. Non-Russian Nationality (WRONG) — Internal passports were issued in Europe and Russia since the early 1700s to control people and land ownership. Different from western ID's, the Russian papers also included home ownership, children under 14, military status, nationality and/or religion. This data was used primarily to issue land privileges and collect taxes and rents. Spiritual Christians raised for generations in the homeland, where internal passports are essential, are very aware of the legality of their social status, class, ethno-national identity and it's restrictions. In Russia the nationality label to control undesirables was lifted in stages, in 1974 and 2000; but in Turkey the religion identity remained on passports.(16, page 5) Those isolated in the Caucasus and Turkey declared their own non-Russian "nationality" of non-Orthodox non-dukhobortsy from Russia, with their "own religion," and this label was incorrectly assigned by the surrounding nationalities and faiths. Their self-identity was probably boosted for out-spoken zealots by disinformation published the new (1928) Kniga solnstse, dukh i zhizn'. In these isolated areas, localized, non-official identities were created, which were transported into Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It is a way to put a positive spin on the fact that they historically were undesirable or suspicious non-Orthodox, officially sektanti or heretics. There was no Russian passport nationality category of "Molokan" among the 120-150 official nationalities in use.(16, page 14.)

  6. Molokan-like (WRONG) — Anyone with imagined characteristics of a "Molokan" — any sectarian, Russian Quakers, Russian Mennonites, Stundists, Russian Baptists, Russian Presbyterians, heretics, vagrants, lazy workers, undesirable immigrants, wimps, pacifists, cowards, slackers, noisy jumpers, etc. These and similar definitions were used by writers and journalists using their artistic license to redefine or distort terms to suit their story. It is up to the reader to figure out what the author implied.

Ty chei?
Ты чей? Who are you? (and your parents, and uncles, and grandparents ... ?)

The wide and long-term misuse of the word "Molokan" produced broad-spectrum religious and political arguments about "who is a Molokan."

A liberal(18) use allows anyone, whether of descent from the Former Soviet Union or not, to mistakenly declare they are “Molokan” though they may be descended from a mixture of nationalities, intermarried, joined another faith, water baptized, atheist, served in the military, eat pork/or and oppose the faith of their ancestors. It's almost like saying: "On St. Patrick's day, everyone is Irish," or: "At the Molokan Picnic, everyone is Molokan." In other senses, the word is as confusing as American Indian, who are not from India, may be on 2 continents (North America, Asia), and comprise any of over 500 tribes (bands), each with their own dialect, land and customs. People from all walks of life and faiths dress up in refined Russian peasant clothes standardized in America, and parade as "Molokans" at a gathering, then go home, take off the clothes and transform back to their American, or Australian, national identity. The show is over.

On the most zealous conservative(18) extreme, users of the Dukh i zhizn' only consider “their” (наши : nashi) people, or selected members of “their” congregation and closely affiliated congregations, who profess their own group-accepted beliefs, behaviors, and appearance, to be their mistaken version of "Molokan." Outsiders are forbidden, or bullied, no matter how they dress or talk, who their father is, even other Dukhizhizniki.

Between these extreme population definitions, about 5000 diaspora households (~20,000 descendants, assuming 4 per household) were willing to be listed in an English language unpublished diaspora English 1985 Молокан Directory, though about half were neither practicing Dukhizhizniki nor Molokane by faith. People affiliated with the "Molokan" label should be several times larger than that estimate, in the year 2000, perhaps 60,000+. For the current relative populations in the Former Soviet Union, multiply by at least 10 up to 100 times (1-2 orders of magnitude).

Because zealots protested that ne nashi (outsiders) were listed in the dispora 1980 Молокан Directory, in the mid-1980s, an unreported census tally of American congregants was attempted by William Alex Federoff, editor of the U.M.C.A. newsletter for 30 years with his sons. He was the only person who sent me a letter stating he did not want his name or family listed in the 1980 Directory. He gave no reason, but when the book was distributed at the grand opening of the Resident Center in Los Angeles, Federoff briefly confided in person that he wanted to be listed in the next edition. To satisfy zealots and himself, Federoff proposed that the next directory should only list nashi, Dukhizhiznik congregation members in good standing, not anyone who wanted to be listed, especially those unclean (nichistye : нечистые) people who married out, eat pork, joined other faiths, etc. His request for membership lists from all congregations was rejected by many and the project dropped. When I asked my father, the presbyter in Arizona, for such a list, I learned that only a few of the many adherents (attenders) ever paid annual dues, because the most zealous majority officially claimed that they, by their tradition, did not believe in "membership" or worldly lists. Maybe they just did not want to donate, as many did not pay their CPS fees during WWII; while they invoked their family tradition by stating that the Book of Life is a spiritual list known only to God. Due to competing temporal and spiritual fears that government will intervene among the variety of Dukhizhiznik faiths, it is probably impossible to ever systematically collect a census list, hence all population counts are somewhat educated guesses.

Molokane in the Former Soviet Union have no trouble listing members, keeping log books, and some post a membership roster on their assembly wall. Many Dukhizhzinik congregations now keep a private membership roster to contact members, and a donation ledger to maintain their non-profit legal status to avoid taxes.

"Can you be Molokan and Christian at the same time?"

This seemingly silly and ironic question was discovered more that 40 years ago by Mike M. Podsakoff, Fresno, while attending a U.M.C.A. summer camp in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains. Mike grew up in Fresno, and moved to Los Angeles when he got an athletic scholarship to play basketball. He was hired to be Athletic Director of the L.A.-U.M.C.A. (Gage Ave.) where I first met him in the late 1960s.

In the early 1970s, the L.A.-U.M.C.A. added more classrooms and very popular club attendance nearly stopped during construction. To boost attendance, about 1974 Mike founded what became the "Our Gang" singles club, I was hired to be Athletic Director, and Mike was appointed to the Recreation Committee with Willie Steve Evseff (Alhambra CA). We got to know each other well.

During that time, Mike told me about what appeared to be a paradox, a question that always immediately divided the group asked. Half answer yes, half no, and they debate. He said it was hilarious to watch because each time he got the same results, which did not make sense.

Walk up to any L.A.-U.M.C.A group already in a conversation (standing in a parking lot, sitting at a picnic table or at summer camp; at a wedding meal; at someone's house; anywhere) and interrupt them with this question: "Can you be Molokan and Christian at the same time?" — then walk away, or be quiet. The group will immediately divide into pro and con sides, and debate, even continuing after you left.

It proved to be a fascinating repeatable social experiment revealing social polarization. We performed the experiment several times in Los Angeles. Each test confirmed his previous results. Whatever the group was talking about stops, they divided into "for" and "against" Molokans being Christians, and discussed their differences, often passionately, as we backed away.

How could they always disagree about being Christian, and why? 40 years ago we proved the phenomenon existed, but could not explain it.

Mike found a litmus-test in which the Dukhizhiznik population immediately self-classified into 2 groups — practicing and social. Which group was correct? They both were. Each had different polar points of view on many dimensions. For dimension examples, see Variety of Dukhizhizniki.

Today the "Podsakoff paradox" can be explained using this Taxonomy.

  • Practicing Dukhizhizniki, more isolated and indoctrinated, typically believed they are a chosen few true Christians among 666 false faiths.
  • Social Dukhizhizniki, who have a broad exposure to Protestantism (from media, education, assimilated(19) relatives, ne nash friends, etc), typically believe that "Molokans" (meaning Dukhizhizniki) are not typical American Protestant Christians, and probably a non-Christian sect or cult.

Both kinds mixed at the L.A.-U.M.C.A. in the 1970s.

The 2 groups (social and practicing) did not clash much because the L.A.-U.M.C.A. was self-forbidden ground for the most zealous Dukhizhizniki. The Social Christian faction, many of them Y.R.C.A.-ers ("Jack Greeners"), dominated as teachers since 1938. There were many who easily straddled both realms, like the late "Little Al" Shubin.

The most zealous Dukhizhizniki never entered the L.A.-U.M.C.A. grounds because of a prophecy that the "devil danced on the roof." Children of the zealots would gather on the street across from the north entrance to socialize while not disobeying their parents' orders to not step inside the fence. Drinking vegetarian beer and wine was permitted, evidenced by the many bottles left on the curbs and in the parking lot. I helped fill a trash can with bottles and cans one summer after Wednesday Chai Nite. Less often yet common, a car radio/stereo was stolen, car antennae broken, marijuana and/or cigarettes smoked, condoms discarded, etc. 

Whenever a Dukhizhiznik zealot would accuse the L.A.-U.M.C.A. of indoctrination (being a "church" or teaching American Christianity), it was denied; and the timing of L.A.-U.M.C.A. services did not overlap with Dukhizhiznik congregational services, to be sure they ended Sunday School with plenty of time for families to attend their "Mother churches." In reality, about half the families only attended the L.A.-U.M.C.A. and went home, while the Dukhizhizniki attended their sobrania and believed they remotely controlled the organization via the Religious Committee.

The religious political balance shifted when the L.A.-U.M.C.A. (Gage Ave) was sold (mainly due to fear of Mexicans) to purchase the current H.H.-U.M.C.A. (Stimson Ave, Hacienda Heights) in a White area in their axial eastern sector, radiating closer to the new neighborhoods of the 3rd and 4th generation in East Los Angeles County.

In the 1980s, the more zealous practicing Dukhizhizniki who wanted an exclusive private school for their assimilating grandchildren, began forcing their more civil social brethren away (as many joined the new Heritage Club) from the H.H.-U.M.C.A to take the property, and eventually purged their newly acquired territory and grammar school of perceived heretics. A series of intense purge attacks occurred to assure that the "Jack Greeners" (Heritage Club) and anyone who supported the new "Re-Formed" (Prygun) movement in Oregon, would stay away or be secondary quests to their new social order. The new H.H.-U.M.C.A. became nearly a totally "spiritually clean" place, void of a "devil on the roof," and zealots could appear with little or no stigma. Sunday School attendance dropped by 90% from its peak in the 1960s. Youth were now required to wear kosovorotki (boys) and kosinki (girls) as as Dukhzhiznik Molokan Elementary School (M.E.S.) and chulok molodoi sobranie ("Young Church", young assembly) continued to a third generation, mostly replacing the former events of Sunday School and "Wednesday Night Church."

If tried in San Francisco, this social experiment could not be duplicated. Real Molokane would not divide and debate. Those asked would probably all stare at the person asking the silly non-sense question, and/or say: "Of course we are Christians;" and, probably give the questioner a Christian lesson.

Here's testimony from a fellow who grew up in a mixed marriage, and was persecuted by American Dukhizhizniki for being ne nash and at school for being Russian. He questions the hypocrisy of his father's heritage faith, and abusive Christians anywhere. Between two worlds and outside both, by Rasputin's love child, (7/22/2009), 42 comments. (Backup copy.) Such abuses are more common than he knows.


The mistaken use of the term "Molokan" for an ethnic group or nationality must stop and be restored to the original term (dukhovnye khristiane, Spiritual Christian), or the pejorative category term used by the Russian Orthodox Church (sektanti, sectarian). The Russian word Molokan should only refer to members of the registered faith.

5. Three Faiths Today

This is a summary to facilitate identifying major factors of 3 of the Spiritual Christians faiths — Molokane, Pryguny and Dukhizhizniki. For more detail, see 11. Classification below.
  1. Molokane is Russian for the Russian Orthodox Church (R.O.C.) heresy “milk-drinkers” or "milk-users" during required holy fasts (Russian: molokane, молокане; from moloko = “milk”), first named in the 1760s in central Russia. Today their main international organization is a registered religion, the Souiz dukhovnykh khristiane — molokan (S.D.K.M.), Russian: “Union of Spiritual Christian Molokans” (U.S.C.M.), Союз духовных христиан — молокан (С.Д.К.М.), website:, The current organization was founded in Moscow in 1990, and transferred about 1994 to Kochubeevskoe, Stavropol' territory, Russian Federation. The only Molokan congregation in the U.S. is in San Francisco, and a semi-active congregation is near Sheridan, north of Sacramento CA; and both are members of the Russian S.D.K.M.

  2. Pryguny is Russian for the R.O.C. heresy “leapers, jumpers” (from Russian: prygat', прыгать = “to jump”). Some groups were called skakuny (скакуны, leapers) and by other labels. This faith formed in Central Russia and coalesced in the 1830s in south Ukraine among sectarians influenced by neighboring German Protestants, particularly Heufers (Springers, Jumpers). The heresy label of Pryguny was not recorded before about 1856 (per Breyfogle oral statement), though similar beliefs and charismatic jumping existed for centuries in many cultures around the world. In 1865 artist Vereschagin visited Leapers in the Caucasus and was among the first to personally document them, and sketch a prophet. Since no centralized Prygun organization exists, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union some congregations in Russia joined the S.D.K.M. to gain registered status. In North America, at least 4 Prygun congregations remained active into the 1950s (Arizona Selimski to 1947, San Francisco, Mexico, and immigrants from Persia/Iran). The U.M.C.A. youth organization in Los Angeles followed the Prygun holidays, including holding Rozhestvo (Birth of Christ on January 7, and/or Christmas on Decembr 25) services, until stopped by Dukhizhizniki. Concurrently a new (4th) congregation of Prygun immigrants from Iran (called "Persians") who established in 1950 in East Los Angeles were forced to transform to a Dukhizhiznik faith by the end of the decade. In Los Angeles in 1932, 3 Prygun congregations combined to form Big Church, which was opposed for decades by zealous Dukhizhizniki; officially because the new united congregation had an elected board of directors (komitet, комитет); unofficially, because many Big Church founders and members, though they allowed the Dukhizhiznik holy books to be placed on their altar table, remained Molokane, Pryguny or were of various other faiths and affiliations (like Y.R.C.A.) for which they were bullied and/or hated by the most zealous Dukhizhizniki.

  3. Dukhizhizniki is Russian for “people who use the book Kniga solnste, dukh i zhizn', in short: Dukh i zhizn'. Dukhizhizniki are much more diverse than the previous two faiths, hence are new religious movements that retain traits from many former abandoned faiths. In the later 1800s, precursors of this cluster of faiths emerged among Pryguny and attracted membership from other sects and nationalities beginning in Erevan guberniia (now Armenia). One leader/presbyter (presviter) of a congregation of Pryguny was Maksim Gavarilovich Rudomyotkin (M.G.R.), who became a mystical martyr while imprisoned from 1858 to his (alledged) death in 1877. He rejected all other Prygun and Spiritual Christian faiths, creating his own rituals and theology. His notes, written while he worked as a scribe in exile, provided the main body of text for ritual books assembled in America. In the early 1900s, immigrants to America, who revered M.G.R. like a Saint, formalized his “new ritual” by publishing a variety of edited censored documents through about 4 revisions and finally in 1928 as a holy book, similar in appearance to a Russian Bible, titled Kniga solnste, dukh i zhizn' (Book of the Sun, Spirit and Life), for worship as a sacred 3rd Testament, placed next to their Old Russian Bible on their altar tables along with new song and prayer books. Some believed this book replaced the New Testament, and some wanted it to replace the entire Bible. In the 1930s, copies of this book were exported to coreligionists in the Former Soviet Union and Turkey, where it was accepted by Maksimist Sionist, and Novyei israel congregations, but did not unify them. Conflicting interpretation of the new ritual book caused divisions among users around the world. These are the only new religious movements in the world which exclusively use these ritual books. Most diaspora Dukhizhiznik congregations and organizations misuse Molokan in their title, and often state their membership is limited to Pryguny or Jumpers, while rejecting these precursor faiths, and instructing their members to not attend services of the Molokane, Pryguny, Subbotniki or any another other "false faith." Some ban attending other Dukhizhiznik congregations for a variety of reasons (below). Rules for acceptance of guests and members vary widely by congregation, elders within a congregation, and time.

Less than 1% of Molokane have ever witnessed charismatic religious jumping, and fewer have seen or even read any part of the book: Dukh i zhizn'. If allowed to attend a Dukhizhiznik service, Molokane are often intimidated, sometimes disgusted, by zealous Dukhizhiznik spiritual jumping, raising hands, shouting, forced jumping, prophesy, verbal bullying, using non-Biblical ritual books, and singing songs from other faiths, and non-Biblical songs with Russian and American folk-melodies. In contrast, those accustomed to the fast shout-singing, jumping, prophesies, and mystical theatrics of Dukhizhizniki, are typically bored among reserved Molokane limited to the Bible and slow singing with no physical aerobics or spiritual and mystical outbursts. These are very different faiths and cultures. Unfortunately one pretends to be the other.

In Summer 1992, a 30-year anniversary of the 1962 resettlement of Old Ritualists and Spiritual Christians from Kars Turkey to Levokumskoe region, Stavropol territory, was celebrated in the town of Levokumskoe. Local government funded the event which was covered on local TV news. Two simultaneous separate outdoor meetings were held for the old-Orthodox and non-Orthodox. The old-Orthodox (Nekrasov) held open services, a parade, and performed religious and folk songs and dances in colorful dress. Spiritual Christian Dukhizhizniki from Turkey dominated the non-Orthodox meeting and meal. No parade or performances. All Molokane in Russia were invited. When the newly elected senior Molokan presbyter, T.V. Shchetinkin, arrived from Kochubeevskoe, he was not recognized any more important than a common "guest" and seated in the third row. Years later, after studying the Dukh i zhizn', and meeting others who opposed Molokane while insisting that they were the true Molokane, Shchetinkin declared that they are not Molokane, but he had no label for their faiths. Now you (readers) do have a term. Use it to make sense out of non-sense.

6. New Label : Dukhizhizniki

In 2007, a new and unique label, incorporating the book's short name Dukh i zhizn', was unanimously accepted by 50 congregations of all 3 of these faiths in Stavropol'skii krai, Russia, as a fair descriptor for use in a world directory of Spiritual Christians, in-progress. These labels were accepted not at a huge meeting, or conference, but during personal visits with individual congregants alone or in small groups, over a period of 3 months that Summer. Due to the antagonistic social nature of most Dukhizhizniki, they rarely all assemble in one meeting nor unanimously agree in a large group. Occasionally members of 2 different congregations met together with me. The 3 most zealous Dukhizhiznik congregations in Stavropol'skii krai avoided contact with me, as is their policy with all non-members of their congregation. The Dukhizhiznik label appears to be the best fit for their lexicon. (Send comments to <Adminstrator @>) When congregations that use the Dukh i zhizn' were presented a choice of the 3 labels, they chose the Dukh i zhizn' identity despite the many differences and splits between congregations of Dukhizhizniki.

Dukhizhizniki are less united and more diverse in liturgy than Molokane, and fragment more. Only Dukhizhizniki exclusively use the book Dukh i zhizn' for religious rituals and faith guidance. Before 2007, Dukhizhizniki had no distinct label and often referred to other Dukhizhizniki as “our people” (Russian: nashi : наши) or “believers [in the Dukh i zhizn']” (veruschy : верушы) when Molokane or Pryguny were nearby.

The inside-outside (us-them) distinction is typical among many peoples around the world. For one example, members of a native North American tribe used the autonym Nēhilawē (those who speak our language) to identify themselves, but among outsiders they used the white man's label: "Cree."

When no Molokane are nearby, Dukhizhizniki tell outsiders they are Molokane. Other terms used by journalists include “extremist” and “maximalist.” Some call themselves Maksimisty (Russian for “followers of Maksim (Rudomyotkin)"), but not all Dukhizhizniki are Maksimisty, and many despise that term. Some call themselves Davidisty, Novyi Izrail', or Sionisty. All alternate labels were rejected in 2007 in Stavropol province, Russia, in favor of their common identity with their book Dukh i zhizn', hence: Dukhizhizniki.

In the U.S. the term Dukhizhizniki is new, strange and too exact for those who were indoctrinated to hide from the worldly pork-eating non-believers. For these and other reasons, which they are afraid to reveal or cannot explain, Dukhizhizniki will probably continue to falsely mislabel their faith and institutions as “Molokan,” or “True Molokan,” though they are not and never were Molokane by faith. Most will continue to say my/our “Molokan faith/religion" unless probed to reveal their actual secret faith. It may take a generation or more to establish the accurate term : Dukhizhiznik. The irony is they claim they want religious freedom, but only to be freely dishonest with their identity, and/or to deny or insult the freedom of others. No elder of a congregation is brave enough yet to openly discuss this error, or change their congregation and organization titles or descriptions. Most in the West are blocked with fear and shame, which causes some to be angry that they have been involuntarily outed with an accurate label because they lack confidence of being accepted as a normal Protestant faith, given all the facts.

These three religions (Molokan, Prygun, Dukhizhiznik) have a common origin with other Anabaptists, Russian sectarians, Spiritual Christians; iconobortsy (iconoclasts); they all use the Russian Bible with Apocrypha; and pray, sing, and read in Russian; dress or appear similar; but their holidays, rituals, liturgy, services, songs, and openness vary significantly and separate them into distinctly different faiths. Members within and between congregations today may be relatives, neighbors, friendly or unfriendly, intermarried, yet differ in behavior and belief, sometimes hostile and/or secretive. If a marriage is allowed between members of these denominations (or an outsider), one usually must convert to the faith of the congregation performing the wedding, then tolerate scrutiny, or abandon their heritage faiths. During the past century, most chose to entirely or partially abandon their heritage faith(s), mostly due to the confusions explained here.

7. Analogies

This section is for diaspora readers indoctrinated with the wrong terms, or convinced that whatever their grandfather or elders said, must be correct, without question. Scholars and journalists also take heed. A comparison of several classification systems below illustrates how honestly choosing a simple descriptive method and words greatly aids understanding which group is which. As Christians you must decide for yourself how deceptive you want to be with the identity of your faith(s). In other words, as a Christian you must decide how much you want to lie. The same goes for scholars, journalists, and all other faiths.

1. Cars — To argue ownership of the brand-hijacked label "Molokan," some Dukhizhizniki boast that they are the newest model of Molokane, like a modern car compared to an antique. Some say they are the "True Molokans." They omit, or forget, that their religious predecessors were from many different faiths and nationalities, and should claim to be improved newer versions of non-Molokan faiths. Anyway, they say the Molokane are like the Ford Model-T, but never modernized — steadfast, unchanged, original. But what happened to the Model-T? Competitor Chevrolet emerged as a separate company (faith) with faster cars (like Pryguny) which used Buick parts (borrowing from other faiths), produced many newer models with automatic transmissions (Malibu, Impala, Camaro, Corvette, Tahoe, Suburban, ... like Maksimisty, Sionisty, etc.) which are like the many divided faiths among the new religious movements of Dukhizhizniki. We recognize these as “cars” (Spiritual Christians) but each model is different in parts, shape, performance, and attracts different buyers (members). Why don't people who own Corvettes call them Model-T's because they are the newest most modern version? Why aren't all cars called Model-T's? Why can't you just get one car part to fit all cars? This sounds silly, but Dukhizhizniki still call themselves the antique term Molokane, which they never were, nor were most of their ancestors, while hiding their actual original terms (Davidisty, Novyi Izrail', Pryguny, Sionisty, Khlysty, ...) Why don't they call themselves by earlier labels before Molokan : Iconobors, Orthodox, Bogomils, etc? Why didn't they choose their own new and improved name?

2. Fruit What if all "fruit" was locally called apples, and each tribe in the world only had one kind of fruit which they called "apple" because it was the only word they had, or knew, for fruit? They did not know the word "fruit." In the tropics a tribe had long curved yellow apples (bananas). In Hawaii their apples were huge grown on spiny bushes (pineapples). In the Republic of Georgia their apples are thin skinned and orange (tangerines). In central Russia their apples are green (simirenko). Each tribe did not know about the others and only one word was needed as long as they remained isolated in their village, and did not travel or see imported fruit. But in the large import market in Europe, where fruit is sold from around the world, each fruit needed a different name to tell them apart. If the tribes refused to learn the international terms, they had problems communicating. If they wanted a banana or grape, they would have to describe which kind the long yellow curved apple, or the small round juicy apples in a bunch.

3. Middle Asia — "Middle Asia should not be confused with the Central Asia or Inner Asia." The maps show that different definitions include or exclude vasts areas of Asia. Depending on who is writing and when (Russian Empire, Soviet Union, United Nations, Islamic tribe, professor, etc.) and topic (ethnicity, geography, religion, language, history, climate, politics). The various terms from different languages describing this territory have vastly different overlapping meanings. Which name is correct? All are correct to the writers, but the readers can easily be misled if they do not know what area was actually intended by each writer, expecially when no map is provided. When Maksim G. Rudomyotkin wrote about Tika (his "land of refuge"), he most likely referred to the area which was originally generally called "place of the Turkic people's" or "Land of the Turks" («Туркестан», Turkestan). The Persian name is Turan: "the land of the Tur." In general it meant land East of the Volga. As more knowledge was documented and dispersed in maps and books, and people educated, it should be easier to specify this area. Yet, many mistakes are easily made unless one provides a map.

4. Jews — 100s of books and articles have been published debating "Who is a Jew?" Dukhizhizniki consider themselves somewhat Jewish, eating kosher-like, sharing somewhat similar holidays. Changing the word "Jew" in the introductory text of Who is a Jew? (edited in, see archived text) to "(ethnic) Molokan" produces a broad awkward statement no more definitive of "ethnic Molokans" than for ethnic Jews:

Who is an ethnic Molokan Jew is a basic question about Molokan Jewish identity and considerations of ethnic Molokan Jewish self-identification. The question is based in ideas about ethnic Molokan Jewish person-hood which themselves have cultural, religious, genealogical, and personal dimensions. … The definition of who is an ethnic Molokan Jew varies according to whether it is being considered by Molokans Jews based on normative religious statutes, self-identification, or by non-ethnic-Molokans-Jews for other reasons. Because ethnic Molokan Jewish identity can include characteristics of an ethnicity, a religion, … the definition of who is an ethnic Molokan Jew has varied, depending on whether a religious, sociological, or ethnic aspect was being considered. … The issue has given rise to legal controversy, … There have been court cases … which have had to address the question.

Similarly by substituting a few words in the description of ultra-Orthodox Haredi, a fair description for Dukhizhizniki is generated:
Dukhizhizniki are Haredi Judaism is not an institutionally cohesive or homogeneous group, but comprises a diversity of spiritual and cultural orientations, generally divided into a broad range of Dukhizhiznik Hasidic sects, ... These groups often differ significantly from one another in their specific ideologies and lifestyles, as well as the degree of stringency in religious practice, rigidity of religious philosophy and isolation from the general culture that they maintain.

Haredim are currently primarily located in Southern and Central California; Australia; Stavropolskii krai, Russian Federation; and Armenia Israel, North America and Western Europe.

Dukhizhizniki differ from Haredi in that owning a prosperous business is a socio-religious status being blessed with wealth. (Israel Prods Ultra-Orthodox to ‘Share Burden’, New York Times, June 6, 2013)

5. Mennonites — "Mennonite" is also misused. By changing the word "Mennonite" to "ethnic Molokan," changing "church" to "assembly," adding "informal affiliation" and decreasing the numbers in the summary text of Mennonite, Organization Worldwide (, another awkward definition results which gives the reader no better resolution than the original term: "Spiritual Christian."

The most basic unit of organization among ethnic Molokans Mennonites is the assembly. There are hundreds of ethnic Molokan assemblies Mennonite churches, many of which are separate from all others. Some assemblies churches are members of a conference, others are formally and informally affiliated. Some, but far from all, regional or area affiliations are associated with larger national or world affiliations. Thus, there is no single authorized organization that includes all ethnic Molokan assemblies Mennonite churches worldwide.

Instead, there is a host of separate assemblies churches along with a myriad of separate affiliations with no particular responsibility to any other group. Independent assemblies churches can contain as few as part of 1 family or more than a 1000 members. Similar size differences occur among separate affiliations. Worship, assembly discipline and lifestyles vary widely between progressive, moderate, conservative, Old Order and orthodox ethnic Molokans Mennonites in a vast panoply of distinct, independent, and widely dispersed classifications. For these reasons, no single group of ethnic Molokans Mennonites anywhere can credibly claim to represent, speak for, or lead all ethnic Molokans Mennonites worldwide.

An Anabaptist historian advises: “... it is meaningless to use the same term ‘Mennonite’ to describe differing spiritual traditions whose fundamental values were often in direct conflict with each other” (C.F. Plett, The Story of the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren Church, 1985, page 6). This Newspeak process (social control by language reduction) was coined by George Orwell in 1949 to describe a repressive society, characteristic of Dukhizhizniki.

6. The Church of Jesus Christs of Latter-Day Saints
— Most outsiders call them "Mormon" not L.D.S. because they use the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Let's change Book of Mormon to Dukh i zhizn' and see if that analogous definition makes sense:

The Word of God

Missionaries are not handing out copies of the Dukh i zhizn' Book of Mormon all over the world, even as you read this. So what is this secret book? If it’s given out for free, why do so many
Dukhizhizniki members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints count their Dukh i zhizn' Book of Mormon as one of their most valuable possessions? What kind of book can cause so many readers to change their lives, their minds and their hearts? What kind of book can answer life's seemingly unanswerable questions?

Dukh i zhizn' Book of Mormon is the word of God, like the Bible. It is Holy Scripture, with form and content similar to that of the Bible. Both books contain God's guidance as revealed to prophets as well as religious histories of different civilizations. While the Bible is written by and about the people in the land of Israel and surrounding areas, and takes place from the creation of the world until shortly after the death of Jesus Christ, the Dukh i zhizn' Book of Mormon contains the history and God’s dealings with the chosen people who lived in Erivan governate the Americas between approximately 1850 and 1877 600 BC and 400 AD, and their descendants [who faithfully wait for Rudomyotkin's return.] ...

Most Dukhizhizniki would probably agree, though many disobeyed Maksim Rudomyotkin by leaving Armenia (Erivan governate), with the above text while insisting they have nothing to do with the false faith of L.D.S., or any of the 666 false faiths that Rudomyotkin warns them to avoid. In contrast with L.D.S., Spiritual Christians in/from Russia had no missionary program for the past 100 years, though their oral histories report that many converted up to that time. In America, there are several families of Dukhizhizniki who joined the L.D.S. church and today call still themselves Molokans. In the mid-1970s, a widowed Mormon woman joined the L.A.-U.M.C.A. Ladies Auxiliary, was elected president and honored as "Mother of the Year" — Jean M. Popoff-Batchekoff (1922-1990).

6. Pancakes
— How can one explain and describe pancakes (olad'i), waffles (vafli), and crepes (bliny)? Are they three different things, three kinds of pancakes, or are they all the same single thing? Or, in secret, are they 3 types of bliny? The first is a breakfast dish, the others were designed to be desserts. Do they really need different words? Pancakes, olad'i, are the original version of a thin fried batter bread, flap-jacks. But original Russian olad'i are small and thick, and in America they are a different huge thinner pan-cake. The same batter ingredients can be modified, the form enhanced in a mold, cooked on both sides with impressions, and made thicker and more intricate, but it no longer looks or feels like a pancake even though the batter is nearly the same. Why are those called waffles, vafli, and not pancakes? Add a little milk, kefir, and butter and the same batter can be cooked into very thin versions. Those are called crepes, bliny, with many varieties. Are these also pancakes, waffles or something else? Should bliny claim the title of pancake because they are the most varied — rolled, folded, stuffed with many fillings — and so sacred and fancy that they should not have a name? If they are all basically the same material, why not one name for all? If you called bliny waffles, or waffles pancakes, would you be telling the truth? In this sense, olad'i, vafli, and bliny, are as different as Molokane, Pryguny and Dukhizhizniki.

pancakes, olad'i
waffles, vafli
crepes, bliny

What if you asked for blintsy with tvorog (dry cottage cheese), varenia (jam) and smetana (sour cream), but got oladiki instead? You'd probably get a similar reaction telling a Dukhizhiznik that Pryguny and Molokane in America celebrate Christmas, or most American Jews do not eat kosher (koshur).

8. Pizza — To be fair to debaters, here's another classification example. Though similar to pancakes (round, flat food), pizza is named differently, as a class with sub-classes. If you ask for pizza, you need to specify attributes and sub-attributes — size (small, medium, large, ...), thickness (thin, thick, ...), shape (round, pan), ingredients (many toppings) and style (deep pan, cheese in crust, pretzel crust, ...) — 1000s of possible combinations. Such a multi-word classification system is mainly useful within the sub-classes of Dukhizhizniki, particularly where a congregation remains singular, separated from others nearby.

9. Dukhizhiznik congregations — Because Dukhizhiznik congregations tend to be clustered but separate and fragmented, members identify them (somewhat like pizza above) with a combination description of location (state/province, city, district, street), original village, presbyter and/or nickname. In contrast, there are no cities/villages in the world with divided Molokan congregations (except Novokumskoe, Stavropol territory, R.F., after 2005), so they are simply identified by current location (state/province, city/village).

To simplify the naming of Dukhizhiznik congregations in Southern California in the 1970s, the persistent (postoyannie) editor of the U.M.C.A. newsletter, W.A. Federoff, announced his own naming system — by street only. Federoff argued against what he considered vanity surnames (Buchnoff, Nazaroff, Mendrin, Samarin, Shubin, etc.), archaic village labels (Akhta, Melikoy, Romanovka, Prokhladnoye, etc.), all modifiers (Big, Old, New, Persian, 605, Blue Top), and would only use neutral street names. He enforced his new rule by only publishing his new labels in "his" newsletter. So what my babuniya (grandmother) Shubin called her Akhtinskii sobranie, and most called Samarin sobranie, Federoff re-nick-named "Percy street church," which is now called "Pioneer street church" after moving to Whittier from Boyle Heights. Bolshoe sobranie and "Big Church" became "Lorena street church." Now a generation later, most all Dukhizhiznik youth are trained to use the current street nicknames for their "churches" and never learned they were actually meeting or prayer halls (assemblies) with historic village roots. The American street labels erased part of their semantic Russian heritage, hence reducing identity with the Russian Empire and language, replacing Russian with local American geographic markers. Eric Arthur Blair would be proud.

I sincerely hope this Taxonomy will encourage historically misguided youth to restore Russian identity back to these mislabeled Spiritual Christian faiths in their generation.

10. Indigenous peoples — In America the native peoples were mislabeled Indians because early explorers thought they arrived in India. In Australia the natives are called aborigines (Latin: from the original). Outsiders (ne nashi to natives) use these 2 simple words to refer to 100s of distinct cultures with different languages. The people among themselves have 100s of words to accurately identify their tribal/band members and other tribes/bands. With education anyone should learn to identify the fewer faiths of Spiritual Christians.

11. Defining "cancer"— In March 2012, the National Cancer Institute met to evaluate the problem of “overdiagnosis.” Problems were identified and recommendations made to the National Cancer Institute for consideration and dissemination. On 29 July 2013 the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released 5 recommendations. The second suggestion was widely broadcast in the news:
Change cancer terminology based on companion diagnostics. Use of the term “cancer” should be reserved for describing lesions with a reasonable likelihood of lethal progression if left untreated. There are 2 opportunities for change. First, premalignant conditions ... should not be labeled as cancers ..., nor should the word “cancer” be in the name. Second, ... remove the word carcinoma.” ... revise the taxonomy of lesions now called cancer and to create reclassification criteria ... (Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment in Cancer: An Opportunity for Improvement, JAMA)
Science-health reporter Lisa Aliferis immediately summarized this news for KQED, PBS Northern California (Cutting Down on Cancer Overdiagnosis: National Panel Weighs In, The California Report: State of Health, 29 July 2013.) Her section sub-headings apply to this taxonomy.

Reserve the word “cancer” for real cancers — Reserve the word “molokan” for real molokane
“We need a 21st century definition of cancer — “We need a 21st century definition of molokan

My wife Tanya, a medical doctor in Russia, was surprised to hear that American medical staff call benign tumors "cancer." In Russia there is no such confusion caused by mislabeling tumors. Similarly in Old Russia, before immigration, the variety of Spiritual Christians accurately labeled themselves, until touring reporters, journalists, colonization agents and social scientists got involved. Though most were trying to help these peasants immigrate and assimilate(19) and/or make a commission for themselves, in the process they misunderstood and scrambled the identities of the immigrants, ignoring how the peasant defined themselves.


Many classification examples come to mind. Hopefully the above analogies will illustrate, to even the youngest and/or least educated readers, how choosing the right words can most accurately define these 3 different Spiritual Christian faiths. By following the KISS-principle, the classification system chosen is simple, so each Spiritual Christian religion has a unique one-word original descriptive Russian label, historically known around the world — Molokan(e), Prygun(y) and Dukhizhiznik(i) — ; and all are part of a larger group called dukhovnye khristiane (духовные христиане : Spiritual Christians).

If the diaspora in Los Angeles county, who only falsely call themselves Molokans, remain isolated in East Los Angeles county, never attend services in San Francisco or the  F.S.U., only rely on the Dukh i zhizn' and oral tales for history, they can easily believe they are whatever they called themselves. The same applied for those isolated for decades in Turkey and Armenia. Their hijacked definition can continue as long as they isolate their congregation from education, media (newspapers, books, Internet, TV, radio), outsiders, all worldly contact. If you are one of "them" and have been reading this taxonomy, you are now contaminated with new worldly information — oops — ;-). Don't tell the guy sitting next to you in sobranie, he might insult you, or chase you out.

8. Diaspora "Molokan" label created by 2 people

All the different Spiritual Christian faiths from Russia arriving in Los Angeles in 1905 were all falsely only called "Molokans." Who did this and why?

All evidence points to 2 very educated influential people born in Russia, who lived in Los Angeles and invested more than a decade each trying to help these immigrants — Captain P.A. Demens (1850-1919) who initiated the cover up, and Dr. P.V. Young (1896-1977) who continued it.

They never met and worked for different goals. Demens was most active from 1898 to 1910, about 15 years before Young arrived from Chicago in the mid-1920s to enter graduate school at the University of Southern California (U.S.C.) where her sociologist husband accepted a teaching position, and both remained as professors.
  • Demens advocated immigration, integration(19) and colonization from 1898 to 1910, and died in 1919, at least 5 years before Young arrived. He knew and admitted they were not all Molokane, but only used that single term.

  • Young focused on research, documentation, and delinquency; then advocated for education, behavior change, and assimilation(19) from 1924 to 1950, to avoid discrimination and possible deportation. She was misled to believe that Pryguny and Molokane were the same, and exclusively used the false Molokan term in English.

Captain Peter A. Demens
(1850-1919) (Russian name: Pyotr Dement'ev, Пётр Дементьев, pen-name: Tverstov) Research in-progress.

Demens' involvement with Spiritual Christian colonists from Russia was extensive for at least a decade, beginning about 1898. Luring them to Los Angeles from Canada appears to have been his idea and personal project; and, he alone appears most responsible for first falsely and widely presenting all Spiritual Christians who migrated to Los Angeles from Russia as "Molokans." Despite many self-reporting that they were a "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians," Pryguny or another faith, the simple false label propagated by Demens, the local Russian expert, spread and stuck, until corrected by this Taxonomy.

Demens probably used the shorter and false code-switched label, rather than the English "milk-drinker," to help dispel fear and doubt about a huge immigration wave to Los Angeles. He whitewashed(25) them all for promotion as one huge group of the most desirable all-literate citizens, White Protestants, not Jews, neither anarchists nor fanatics nor pagans, neither terrorists nor revolutionaries — apolitical, clean Christians. Actually, they were neither one faith group, nor all desirable, and many were fanatics; but there was a group of about 35 real Molokane among the mixture of early arrivals who were quite educated, not peasants, well-dressed (neck ties, coats), shaven and presentable. He was only available to embellish them for 2 years, to the end of 1906 when they resettled in San Francisco.

Demens was perfect for this sales task. He was Russian-born, educated, spoke 4 languages, well-traveled, well-read, impulsive, aggressive and successful in business, politically active, a writer, the older of his 5 kids was starting college, his wife was active in women's clubs, and he was THE local pundit about Russia in Los Angeles newspapers. Though born and christened Orthodox, his humanitarianism was Tolstoyan. He knew Russian and American culture, and he was most eager to help guide his fellow countrymen. He was not shy to ask for help from wealthy tycoons.

Born in central Russia, both parents died when he was a child, and he was raised by relatives. He was educated in St. Petersburg, joined the military, married, and tried farming and politics in central Russia, but was not satisfied. While attending the 1878 Paris Exhibition he met a relative who was living in Florida and praised America and Florida. In 1881 Demens sold his land in Russia to move to Florida intending to farm, but opened a lumber mill with 2 partners in   where he was elected mayor, and ran for the Senate. He bought out his partners. In 1886 he acquired the failing Orange Belt railroad with Canadian investors. Though many difficulties Demens is credited with building the railroad to St. Petersburg, Florida, erecting the first hotel, railroad pier and station, and registering plans for the village. By 1888 when most work was complete, bills and investors paid, Demens profit was only $14,400 ($370,000 in 2015 using CPI ).

He had first-hand experience with discrimination, racism and nationalism on 2 continents. In parts of Russia, hatred for outsiders, dissidents and foreign faiths was common. In the U.S., he first settled in the Deep South where nationalism and bigotry towards outsiders and Blacks (Negroes) was most intense, and lynchings of Negroes was most common. He knew that American Whites hated coloreds and foreigners, especially immigrants from south-eastern Europe (including Ruskies).

In 1889 he moved to North Carolina to operate a planing mill. From 1891 to 1895, he moved his family to Los Angeles after an economic recession when prices were relatively low. He opened a steam laundry in the Flat(s), and used the profits to buy a citrus grove in Alta Loma (now Rancho Cucamonga), in west San Bernadino County.

In October 1893 he attended the 2nd National Irrigation Congress held in Los Angeles for 5 days. Compared to the first congress, this event was larger, supported by the federal government, and attended by a broader variety of more than 500 experts, businesses, legislators, lawyers, and foreign delegates — the largest ever held in the world. Discussions included proposals to federally fund the irrigation of the last available arid land in Central California, and west of the Missouri River east of the Rocky Mountains (eastern Montana, Wyoming, Colorado) for "settlement ... by Uncle Sam's bona fide children and none others ... there is bound to be a colossal accumulation of wealth in the irrigated belts ... the greatest civilization of this age ... ." Reports included detailed data on irrigation prospects in California and Arizona. 98% of potentially irrigable land in the U.S. was unused — about 1 million square miles.

At that time " ... Southern California ... irrigation has shown the greatest results and developed more rapidly than in any other part of the world," which buffered the region from economic recession. Riverside was the wealthiest city in the U.S. due to irrigation success. Demens recognized irrigation farming as a great opportunity for himself and other immigrants from Russia, who also bought farms near his, forming a Tolstoyan-like Russian colony about 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. Demens' Russian neighbors will form the expert committee to aid the Spiritual Christians who arrive a decade later.

The Russian delegate to the congress was Count Constantin Comodzinsky, St. Petersburg, the representative engineer of the Russian government to the World's Fair held that year in Chicago,which Demens probably attended. Comodzinsky presented his paper: "Irrigation in Russia." After the congress he toured Southern California, probably with Demens who maintained many contacts in the Russian government with whom he networked on 2 later trips back to Russia, in 1896 and 1907.

For decades Demens, under his pseudonym Tverskoi ("from Tver oblast"), submitting articles published in Russian and English language newspapers in the U.S. and Russia. For his Russian readers Demens promoted life in booming Southern California, where Progressivism dominated politics, and the economy thrived due to "location, climate and resources." For American readers he submitted editorials about Russia and Europe to the local press, particularly about the Russo-Japanese War and World War I.

In 1895 Spiritual Christian Dukhoborsty burned guns simultaneously at 3 locations in the Southern Caucasus to protest war. Hundreds were arrested, thousands relocated, of whom about half died. Lev. N. Tolstoy intervened to advocate for humanitarian freedom for all Russian citizens, especially the persecuted heretics. Demens probably learned of Dukhobor tragedies from correspondence and Tolstoy's publications.

In 1895 he published a book in Russia: America and the American System of Government, and in 1896 returned to Russia thinking he could help the Tsarist government.

In 1898 he learned that Dukhobortsy were leaving Russia, and invited them to Southern California while a sugar tycoon tried to invite them to Hawaii, but plans were already made for settlement in central Canada beginning in 1899. He was very disappointed that Dukhobortsy did not get a better place to settle than central Canada nor a government which kept its promises to them, which caused the zealots (nude free men : goli svobodniki) to protest. Demens only appears once in early Canadian Doukhobor history because he protested directly to those coordinating the Doukhobor migration to central Canada, but all the historians and journalists focusing on Doukhobors in Canada missed the story that Demens was actively recruiting Doukhobors to the U.S. and 3 visited him in Los Angeles.

In mid January 1900 at his house in Los Angeles, Demens hosted 3 zealot scouts who broke from Dukhobortsy (later called Svobodniki : free men) trying to leave Canada. He escorted them to possible colonization lands and employment starting with sugar beet farming in Southern California, then ranches for sale in Central California thorough Washington, lumbering jobs, and sent them to homestead land agents in the Dakotas. 

Canada was aggressively soliciting immigrants as farming colonists to populate its central and western territories due to fears that the U.S. will claim territorial land in what is now British Columbia. To protect it's westward expansion, Canada quickly built a railroad to the Pacific Ocean.

In April 1900, international news and the 3 largest daily newspapers in California reported that 10,000 "Mollicans" in Russia, pending Tsar's approval, were ready to follow the Dukhobortsy to Canada — 35% more than the 7,411 Dukhobortsy who already arrived. (By 1930, more than 8800 Dukhoborsty arrived.) A year later (July 1901) the number of "Molokanen" coming to America increased to 40,000.

If the non-Doukhobor Spiritual Christians would have chosen Canada instead of obeying Demens, many more could have emigrated with financial support for travel, large land allotments and military exemption for 99 years, but they would have to sign for their land as individuals. One can speculate about the possible interaction among the most zealous individuals from each immigration group if they all met in Canada. Would the Maksimist-Sionist T. Bezayiff have joined Svobodniki in nude protests, evolving into Sons of Freedom Molokane? Would
About August 1900, when scouts representing Spiritual Christian Pryguny and Molokane traveled to Canada, Demens was determined to divert this next wave of immigrants from Russia, away from Canada to Southern California. While their first "official" scouts (I.G. Samarin and F.M. Shubin) planned to join Dukhobortsy in Canada (Berokoff, page 19), the second group of "independent" scouts (Agaltsoffs, Holopoff, Slivkoff) were probably personally invited to Los Angeles by Demens, though Demen's name is absent from Berokoff's history.(Berokoff, page 20)

In 1900 Demens had a city house at 3217 S. Grand avenue (near Jefferson), and by 1909 moved to 1149 W 28th Street (near Hoover). Both residences were about a half mile from the University of Southern California (U.S.C.) attended by his children. His main house was on his farm, 40 miles east of Los Angeles, which is now a historic site.

In 1901 disgruntled Svobodniki in Canada began to protest against the newly elected Canadian administration which changed their immigration agreements. In 1902 they organized a well publicized march of 2000 (including many non-zealot Dukhoborsty) to complain against the laws of Canada regarding civil registration (birth, marriage, death, marriage), citizenship "oaths"* and government schools; and they wanted their leader P. V. Verigin to come from Russia, and/or for them to return to Russia. (* They did not know that affirmation could be substituted for oath.)

Demens became very concerned that factions of Spiritual Christians in Canada were misguided by their advisers and complained to their guides and to Lev N. Tolstoy. He tried for about 5 years to bring them to America from Canada, but relatively few came. Some Svobodniki petitioned U.S. President T. Roosevelt to allow them to enter, but were not successful.

In December 1902, P.V. Verigin arrived in Saskatchewan, Canada . In 1903, the first of many nude protests by zealous goli svobodniki (nude free men) began in Saskatchewan, Canada. By 1918 Verigin announced that what immigrated as Dukhoborsty to Canada, were completely divided into 3 distinct major groups, and he asked for police protection against the "nudes," which was ignored or denied.
  1. Independent Dukhobortsy, those with little allegiance to Verigin, signed for land, took oaths of citizenship, attended public school, etc. Verigin judged them to be marginal Dukhobortsy at best.
  2. Community Dukhobortsy who followed Verigin to British Columbia, beginning in 1908, as the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood (C.C.U.B.). The largest group. Now continues as the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ (U.S.C.C.)
  3. Goli (nudes, 1st label) or Svobodniki (free-men, 2nd label) protested against the worldly Dukhobortsy and government, and were renamed "Sons of Freedom" (3rd label) in the press by 1924. Then and descendants now, most affirm they are "true Dukhoborsty" in spirit. Verigin rejected them as his followers because they protested against the C.C.U.B. and destroyed many buildings. Now they are nearly extinct, and many descendants joined or merged with the U.S.C.C. to maintain a "Doukhobor" identity.
In Canada, the agitation of the Svobodoniki relative to other "Doukhobors" parallels the behavior of Dukzhizniki in America relative to other Spiritual Christian groups. Zealots in both countries believe they are the "true faith" and eventually hijack the historical label as their own, in the press and in their oral history. Research in-progress.

By Spring 1904 the first group of non-dukhobor Spiritual Christians immigrated directly to Los Angeles, led by V.G. Pivovaroff. In Summer 1904 Demens' colleague C.P. de Blumental reported in the press that they called themselves a "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians." In December, the first wedding was registered, also identifying the faith as "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians." No other label was used, not Molokan, not Prygun, not Sionist, not Davidist, not Novye Israil, not Maksimist, etc.

In 1905, zealous Svobodniki who split from Dukhobortsy were denied to mass migrate to California, though many later moved to the U.S. as individuals and some lived in Los Angeles.

In 1905, Demens learned that the next group of non-dukhoborSpiritual Christians from Russia were much more divided than Dukhobortsy, and a larger faction were zealots, more like the Svobodniki. Probably to appease worried government officials and to direct them away from Los Angeles, he pretended they were one group, with a simple label. If he could have separated them, as he would have done to employees, into their own identity and skill groups, perhaps he could have been more successful at managing them. But he probably did not have enough time to analyze them as they quickly arrived. Perhaps the more educated and better dressed Molokane, particularly John Kurbatoff, who may have recognized by Demens as most qualified to lead the first Molokan Settlement Association.

Politically, Demens probably realized that White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (W.A.S.P.s) would be confused to hear the truth, that these immigrants from Russia were mixed dukhovnye khristiane from Russia, similar to Dukhobortsy, mostly Pryguny, Klubnikinisty, Maksimisty, Pivovarovtsy with minor groups of Molokane, Subbotniki, Stundisti, Sionisty and Noviy israeli, and others, from up to 25 villages in 5 districts in Russia, who never met until they arrived in Los Angeles. To help the reported tens of thousands of incoming immigrants that he worked so hard and long to bring to Los Angeles, Demens needed to quickly dispel fears that they will overwhelm the city. He needed a simple marketing hook, and a plan to divert them away from Los Angeles to places where they were welcome in huge numbers.

Demens accomplished an amazing feat. He convinced thousands of immigrants from Russia to avoid Canada for Los Angeles, to stay or be relocated to their choice of land(s) for their own agricultural colon(y/ies). In Los Angeles he organized a Russian-speaking immigration committee composed of at least 4 well educated and influential people already known and respected in Los Angeles (Blumenthals, Cherbak, Dr. Kryshtofovich, ...). For settlement aid he got agent status from President Teddy Roosevelt, and networked with local charities, especially the The Bethlehem Institutes (Bartletts). For financing and land procurement he solicited major bankers, land agents and tycoons in Southern California (I.W. Hellman, Senator W.A. Clark, H.E. Huntington, ...). Demens preparation and salesmanship assured the civic leaders of Los Angeles that they will not be swarmed by the reported tsunami wave of immigrants, doubling the city population with not enough food or places to live.

He was probably confident that his experience in Florida of hiring and managing thousands of workers to build a railroad, sea port, hotel and layout a new city adequately prepared him for this new task. No reason to panic. Take it one day at a time.

Acting as a middle man, a negotiator, Demens lied and/or "stretched the truth." He created a positive altruistic rumor that they were all safe "Molokans," not Dukhobor fanatics, not Russian Bolsheviks, not a pagan cult, not peasants who will need charity, and he arranged contingency plans for diverting most to rural locations. The unconfirmed word "Molokan" facilitated making sense of a complicated scary situation. He needed to protect his immigrants as a group while dispelling their perceived threat and a potential panic by Los Angeles government. He undoubtedly knew that journalists would propagate the one-word, easy-to-pronounce rumor-term (Molokan) with his new definition.

Notice 3 large religious groups resettling in the U.S.A. and Mexico have similar labels that start with the letter "M" — Mormon, Mennonite, Molokan. Demens was a clever salesman. These 3 similar labels were sometimes confused in the U.S., Mexico and Russia. They were all strange new resettling Protestant faiths, 2 from Eastern Europe, that were spelled something like : M-o-n-..., whatever. Initially the press confused all of them in the U.S. and with Doukhobors in Canada.

Why Ma-lo-kan? The first syllable of Molokan (pronounced "ma") is among the easiest to naturally pronounce and most common sounds that babies around the world make, and is part of adult vocabulary. Such word origins have been extensively studied, and may have subconscious connections with "mother" in Russian and English.(22) Demens may have been sensitive to the acceptance of this "ma-" word in both languages, therefore he would not use a more complicated word or phrase. Also, the use of harsh-sounding words (like Prygun or dukhovniye) was not considered polite in upper-class conversation at the time of immigration. The simplest, nicest-sounding, easiest-to-pronounce word was the best for marketing. Decades later, as their Russian language diminished, the assimilated/ intergrated descendants of these immigrants may have internalized and expressed affinity for only this simple code-switched loan-word, instead of "milk-drinker," to the extent of excluding all historical and accurate alternatives, which may be harder to pronounce with more consonants, and have less emotional appeal (ma-ma). This hijacked term could only endure as long as the population did not know, and/or believe, and/or propagate their actual history; and, their histories remained vague and/or obscured to journalists and scholars. Such propaganda works until the truth emerges, but continues among the uninformed and those who reject information that conflicts with their world view, perhaps due to confirmation bias.

Beginning in 1905, Demens greatly simplified their acceptance by promoting them all as ONE group of new law-abiding citizens, all-literate, cheap strong tall White labor and ideal Protestant colonist settlers, to get them out of Los Angeles, or to divert them from coming to the city in large groups. Demens was marketing them using the most simple, unique and easy to pronounce brand identity. He knew he was using puffery by selling the "sizzle and not the steak." Though he sincerely wanted to help them, unfortunately altogether divided they appeared mostly "sizzle and hamburger."

In January 1905, when international news from St. Petersburg, Russia, reported that 200,000 Molokany were coming to Los Angeles, Demens' Russian welcoming committee got busy, probably urged by fears from government and society. To assure they did not go to Canada, Demens apparently personally escorted as many groups as he could meet upon their arrival at Eastern ports directly to Los Angeles. To divert thousands from Los Angeles, arrangements with land agents, banks and the government of Mexico were made by de Blumenthal, also a former Russian officer, and his wife who was well-known in California for raising and sending charity to peasant lace makers in Russia. Agents for Hawaiian sugar plantations with offices in in Los Angeles who did not get Dukhobortsy 5 years earlier, still wanted cheap White labor, and invited Demens to Hawaii in fall 1905.

Demens employed immigrants from Russia at his citrus farm in Alta Loma (40 miles east of Los Angeles), and in The Flat(s) at his lumber yard, soap factory and commercial laundry. He also counseled them for other jobs and for land colonization.

To assure support from government, Demens contacted President Teddy Roosevelt, and was appointed an agent of the President to assure that these people fleeing Russia were not anarchists and get them settled quickly. Vice-president T. Roosevelt became president when President McKinley was assassinated in 1901 by an anarchist with Slavic roots. Demens presented the incoming Spiritual Christians from Russia as part of the needed solution to colonize the American West, to get them official immigrant status, and the best deals, like the varieties of mislabeled "Mennonites" from Russia before them.

In July 1905, I.G. Samarin and de Blumenthal began negotiations to buy communal land in Baja California Norte, Mexico, with a guarantee of military and tax exception for 10 years, and passports for new arrivals. The contract only identified them as "Russian settlers" (colonos rusos), 2 times. They signed and initial agreement in September 1905 (10 days before Demens first scouted Hawaii) which was finalized 6 months later, in March 1906.

In September 1905, Demens visited Hawaii, and returned to Los Angeles to help negotiate a contract with the immigrants and a plantation on the east side of Kauai Island. In November 1905 Demens escorted F.M Shubin and M. Slivkoff (2 kinds of Pryguny) to Hawaii and back, and praised the immigrants only as "Molokans." He negotiated their contract with the Governor, the immigration commissioner, and plantation owner's representatives; and submitted press releases by letter and telegram for publication. He used the "social media" of that time to promote these immigrants.

Apparently at the end of 1905, scores of immigrant Prygun women who were hired to sew overalls in factories were forced out of work by the emergent Garment Workers union No. 125 in Los Angeles. While established White workers were fighting for better work conditions and pay, new immigrant scabs were willing to work longer hours, in poor conditions for low wages. The peasants from Russia did not quickly join the labor movement, perhaps due to expectations of returning to Mount Ararat. Ethnic tensions against these cheap workers from Russia may have been expressed on the street, in public, for taking jobs from other immigrants.

In January 1906, Demens reported all "Molokanes" will move to Hawaii, abandoning Southern California, but others doubted that those with good jobs will leave. F.M. Shubin signed a letter boasting that 5,000 will arrive in Hawaii directly from the Caucasus, bypassing the U.S. mainland. Not clearly reported was that the large group bound for Hawaii became divided before they left, when Shubin decided not to return to Hawaii but to further explore land in Texas and Mexico. In February 1906 only about one-sixth (110 of ~700 who signed up, 16%) went on the first boat to Hawaii, of which about 34 (one-third, 31%) of the 110 were real Molokane led by John Kurbatoff. The rest were initially led by Prygun Mikhail "Mike" Slivkoff. The majority stayed in Los Angeles, where zealots may have been anxious to earn money and return to Mt. Ararat. Shubin returned from Texas disappointed, then extensively scouted Mexico and most of the U.S., but resided in Los Angeles until he died in 1933. Before he died, he opposed the new holy book: Kniga solntse, dukh i zhizn'.

Both colonization groups (obschiny) in Hawaii and Mexico argued upon arrival, and congregations remained divided. While the Mexico revolution was starting, taxes were imposed, border crossing was restricted, and life was more difficult than in Los Angeles slums. Land plots were allocated by lottery. Those who got the worst lots looked for better land nearby, while others tried to go to the U.S. Unfortunately, most who immigrated directly to Mexico were stuck, as new citizens of Mexico, with no U.S. passport or visa. Some who crossed the U.S. border illegally were arrested.

Though Hawaii offered more total land than Mexico, settlers would be divided within and among islands, and a year's wait was needed to process homesteads in Washington D.C., which angered some who already got fast easy charity in Los Angeles. In Hawaii, the first 110 were offered about 8.2 square miles of irrigated homestead land for about $5.70 per acre (less than $29,000 total) in what is now Kappa, Kauai. That land is now worth ~$10 billion, ~$100 million/person. Since F. M. Shubin did not return with them, M. S. Slivkoff was the only "Moses" for the non-Molokane, while John Kurbatoff led the Molokane and the Molokan Settlement Association (M.S.A.). Two 2 kinds of Pryguny protested the M.S.A. forming 3 groups, with more dissent within the 3 groups.

In Hawaii, on the day of arrival (February 19, 1906), the mother of a baby who died during the trip wanted to go back. It was hot and humid like a banya, and windy; bugs were everywhere. Their camp shacks were trashed by Japanese workers ordered to vacate. Familiar vegetables for borshch (potatoes, cabbage, carrots) were not available, and some claimed their profession was wagon drivers not irrigation farmers. Their above normal pay of $29/month was much less than some got at city jobs in California. Most were not the farmers Demens boasted they were. Many refused to work cutting sugar cane for a year until their land could be surveyed, irrigation provided to each parcel, and titles secured. Some Molokane got jobs in Honolulu harbor, Oahu, which led to work in San Francisco harbor later.

When the press questioned why they were divided into 3 groups, Demens replied in a well-publicized statement in Hawaiian newspapers that they were not all the same people, but came from as many as 25 villages in 5 districts, and most did not know each other. The press joked that the word "molokaning .. (was).. synonymous with vagrancy." Many Hawaiians were glad to get rid of them while a few testified that some were worth hiring.

In March 1906, P. de Blumenthal and I.G. Samarin sign a resettlement agreement with the government of Mexico for military exception, visas and passports of all arriving Russian colonists. In April 1906 San Francisco is severely damaged by an earthquake after which for the military and charities provides housing and food for the homeless, and huge amounts of cash and material aid is donated and loaned, providing jobs for decades.

In August 1906, within 6 months of arriving in Hawaii in February, all Spiritual Christians returned to California — most Molokane staying in San Francisco, and the rest (mostly varieties of Pryguny and other zealous sects) proceeding to Los Angeles. Records show that Demens knew most were not of the Molokan faith because many insisted to the press in Los Angeles that they were "Spiritual Christians" and/or Pryguny or another faith. Many professed Maksim Rudomyotkin is their leader, which would become the focus of graduate student Pauline Young's masters thesis 20 years later.

Throughout 1906 Demens and his Russian neighbors focused on the 1905 Russian Revolution. By the end of 1906 he had arranged an interview with the new Russian prime minister Stolypin.

In 1906, due to new religious tolerance in Russia, Peter Verigin, leader of communal Doukhobors in Canada, goes back to Russia with 6 delegates to meet with Stolypin, who refused the meeting, while other other ministers negotiated the return of all Doukhobors to Russia. They were offered land in Altai and military exemption, confirmed by Nicholas II, but Verigin declined the offer and returned to Canada in March 1907. A few Doukhobor women who migrated to Canada while their soldier husbands were exiled to Siberia, were allowed to return to Russia to join their husbands.

In July 1906 a new Immigration Act in Canada controls and restricts undesirable immigrants, makes it easier to deport them.(26) Government policy changes from economic to cultural. Zealous Doukhobors protest against rule change to take oaths, own land, mandatory government controlled education, but are not deported.

In mid-December 1906, The Los Angeles Times reported: "... Molokane [Spiritual Christians] are not desirable citizens.. many.. penniless.. cannot stay in Los Angeles.." 500 waiting in Texas are to be directed elsewhere. Thousands to leave Russia in May. A half-million acres (781 mi2) was offered in Sinaloa, Mexico.

In early 1907 Demens dropped everything to go back to Russia to meet Stolypin, his second trip since 1896. When he traveled through New York city, the president of the Associated Press news agency recruited him to be their new Russian correspondent. Demens conducted the longest (2.5 hour) interview with the new head of the Russian government which was published a few years later in the New York Times. He may have also met with Verigin and company in Russia.

While Demens was in Russia, the John K. Berokoff family arrives in Los Angeles, when the Dukhizhiznik historian was about 9 years old.

Also in 1907, news of a mass immigration of 200,000 "Molokany" quickly dwindled in steps to a few thousand, about 1% of what was first reported. About a fourth of the incoming Spiritual Christians from Russia (mostly Pryguny) were diverted to Mexico, a fourth (mostly Molokane) chose Northern California after Hawaii failed, a few returned home to Russia, and the largest fraction (mixed Spiritual Christians, with few Molokane) were content in Los Angeles slums — their new poly-ethnic enclave — a "kingdom in the city" which perplexed historian Ethel Dunn for decades.

While they were in Russia talking to heads of state, did Demens and/or Verigin stop the expected huge migration of non-Doukhobor Spiritual Christians from Russia? Research in-progress.

In 1907 Maksimist elders reported they believe in the leadership of Maksim Rudomyotkin, expect his return soon to lead them to their promised land, therefore they will not remain much longer in Los Angeles. Newspaper readers could expect that 2000 immigrants will vanish as quickly as they arrived, which did not happen; nor did thousands more arrive from Russia.

Though Demens and associates tried to help, it appears that the most zealous communalists who wanted to live in rural isolation refused their help. For those wanting to stay in the city, Demens provided work at his businesses or guided them to other jobs. Many girls were placed as maids and house-cleaners in mansions, some in Pasadena. Numerous inexpensive electric street cars provided transportation.

After 1908 a major urban renewal project cleared the Flat(s) of shanty slums, and new homes in "street car tracts" were constructed which wage earners could afford to rent or buy. Many moved south of the Flat(s) closer to Demens' businesses to live in the cheapest dirt-floor shantys along Fickett street, south of Whittier Blvd (then called Stevenson Blvd) to 8th street. This area became Karakala.

Though 1000s of Spiritual Christians were directed and co-financed to Los Angeles, Demens and associates were partially successful in aiding their rural colonization. Only the Mexico colonies retained a large population probably because many were comfortably isolated in a foreign county with a 10-year guarantee of no military draft, and no import/export tariffs. Demens and associates tried very hard to help these immigrants for about a decade, but they were too diverse, resistant, some probably stubborn, and most efforts failed.

In 1909 Dr. Kryshtofovich (Demen's neighbor ) was appointed the first American agent of the Imperial Ministry of Agriculture, with an office in St. Louis. He was first on Demens' immigration advisory committee to leave Los Angeles, but kept his farm, and later returned to teach agriculture at the University of Southern California.

At the end of 1910 a nationally publicized effort to provide a rural refuge for all Spiritual Christians in North America in a huge colony in Central California failed. This offer was earlier arranged by Demens for breakaway Dukhobortsy who were not allowed into the U.S., nor out of Canada, in large numbers. 15 years later, H.E. Huntington again offered about a 50-square-mile tract near the Central California coast for all to settle, as many elders had requested. Though Spiritual Christians collectively had the money, Cherbak reported 12 leaders confronting him resulting in the well-funded huge colony never starting. In July 2010, eight congregations in Los Angeles published a notice denying any relationship with Cherbak. Therefore, most of the Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians stayed in the city, but not for long.

It appears that about this time, after 1910, five years after the immigration wave began, Demens must have realized no more were coming. The previously announced immigration tsunami fizzled, with most hanging around Los Angeles. His help was no longer needed as city services and charities stepped in, and zealots were outspoken against any arrangement for a single large rural colony.

In 1911, the overcrowding self-corrected when the huge concentration of varieties of Spiritual Christians transformed as their Old World culture continued to clash with the New World. In December 1911 a much publicized bride-selling scandal erupted and continued through February 1915, which scared many zealots from the city in groups to scattered destination with apparently no, or little, guidance from Bartlett, Demens, Cherbak or the Blumenthals. For more than 3 years the "Molokan" label became nationally associated with "bride-selling." In 1912, the first registered marriage (since 1904) occurred, while the most zealous in Arizona continued to not register up to 1920 when 2 presbyters were arrested and fined $300 each.

From 1911 through 1914, Demens shifted his focus from volunteering to help uncoordinated immigrants to his own business, getting railroad access for himself and other farmers in Alta Loma. He lobbied the Central Pacific Railroad to divert 2 miles north from its straight path from Upland to San Bernadino which added 3 miles to the total path. To offset the extra cost for the railroad, Demens' arranged to buy the rights of way and raised $19,000 from local businesses and farmers who will benefit. For his volunteer efforts he was called the volunteer "mayor" of Alta Loma, and when the track was finished he donated the last spike at the grand opening. In the 1980s, when the section of track he created was converted into a recreational trail for hiking, biking and horse riding, the trail adjacent creek were officially named Demens Creek/Channel and Demens Creek Trail.

At the same time in Canada in 1912, Community Dukhobortsy (C.C.U.B.) were investigated for 4 months by a commission which gathered testimony from 110 witnesses in 7 towns in 2 provinces aided by lawyers and scholars. While the commission substantiated "that the Community recognizes no outside authority, and that it refuses to register births, deaths, and marriages, ... " and refused education, thus violating many laws; it recommended fines to be more effective than jail.(21)

About 1911, Cherbak moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to work with Molokane and other Russian immigrants there while his family stayed on his farm next to Demens. De Blumenthals returned to Chicago. How much effect Demens had or how long he maintained his businesses has not yet been found (yet). It must have been a huge disappointment that most of what they all did to help these immigrants failed.

In 1914 the Bethlehem Institutions were closed by the new city charity commission for mismanagement. The population of Spiritual Christians shifted across the L.A. River, into the 9th ward, where the major congregations separated, each establishing their own meeting halls and stores, and different social services opened or transformed to provide free aide. A charity medical clinic was created by women's clubs at Utah and First streets. Within 15 years the new Prygun U.M.C.A. and a zealot molodoi sobranie would operate across the street.

In 1914, the Young Women's Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.) opened a local chapter of the International Institute, a settlement house for immigrant women, one lot north of 1st street on Boyle Ave, in the midst of the "Foreign Quarter." It was damaged by fire, and relocated to a larger lot a half block south of 1st Street at 435 S. Boyle, where it remains today.

Those who moved east across the LA River and remained in the city were aided by the upgraded Utah Street School, which added a baby nursery, a bath house, a playground monitored after school and on weekends, and meals The kids got free daycare so both parents could work. U.S.C. sociology students continued to visit, assess and help the most needy immigrants. The Americanization program taught domestic skills to girls and job skills to boys. All kids learned to grow garden vegetables. Though many parents ordered their kids to not attend school, truant officers brought them in.

In 1914, Demens shifted his public focus to the war in Europe by publishing more editorials and letters in the press. The large group of "Molokan" immigrants created in the press fizzled. 99% stayed in Russia. Most of the Spiritual Christian zealots fled the city. By 1915 the "bride-selling" scandal subsided. The immigrants who remained were managed by city and charity services. His decade of service to these countrymen was apparently most successful for those whom he hired or placed for work.

By 1915, printing a holy ritual book engaged some of the zealots remaining in the city, a process that kept urbanized leaders busy and created about 7 versions up to 1928. Simultaneously a U.S.C. graduate student and home teacher, Lillian Sokoloff, began surveying the Spiritual Christian parents of her students, and published her report in 1918. The U.S.C. project would be continued in 1924-1926 with an analysis of the religion and holy book(s) by 2 new graduate students.

In January 1916 military exception expired in Mexico. The congregation there from Novo-Mikhailovka (Tiukma, Diukma), Kars, departed for Chino Valley, Central Arizona, where they would be known as Dzheromskii (Jersomskii). By the end of 1916 they would abandon Chino Valley and temporarily resettle 3 miles west of Glendale, most leaving within a decade.

In May 1917, the Selective Service Act sparked a hysteria among Spiritual Christians in Los Angeles who were pacified by the educated Russians who had been working with them. But the most zealous insisted on taking a petition to the Tsar (President) which ignited the most zealous isolated in Arizona, who directed all 34 of their boys (but one who hid) to not register. Again the false "Molokan" label was nationally associated with a new scandal. This time they were "slackers" (cowards and draft dodgers).

In 1919 Peter A. Demens died at his Loma Linda farm, leaving a wife and 8 children. Much more is yet to be learned about him.

Demens remained in Los Angeles after his colleagues gave up trying to help these Spiritual Christians from Russia. He devoted much of the last 2 decades of his life to inviting fellow countrymen to California and personally helping them get settled. He traveled across the U.S.A. several times,
escourted groups to Los Angeles, scouted Hawaii, wrote letters, published articles, contacted the President and Lev Tolstoy, and spent 100s of hours meeting and traveling with them. In the end, most of the Spiritual Christians were not satisfied, fought among themselves, and eventually erased him from their oral history; but they did not erase his simple false marketing brand — "Molokan."

In St, Petersburg, Florida, he is remembered as co-founder and railway builder at a public monument and in a history book published in his honor. In Rancho Cucamonga, California, his name is publicly displayed at his house, now a historical monument, the Demens-Tolstoy Estate; and on the Demens Creek/Channel and Demens Creek Trail which replaced the local railway he created. In 1990 his memory was resurrected among Dukhizhizniki in a chapter, contributed by Bill Aldacusion, in the 1990 book A Stroll Through Russia Town. His history is currently being collected in collaboration among 6 researchers in the US and Canada. Stay tuned for more.

Dr. Pauline V. Young
(1896-1977), married to Dr. Erle F. Young. Both were sociology professors at U.S.C. Research in-progress.

Young did her master's (1925), papers (1929+), Ph.D. theses (1930) and a book (The Pilgrims of Russian-town, 1932) about Spiritual Christian Pryguny (Jumpers) from Russia in Los Angeles, but erroneously used the term "Molokan(s)" when referring to them 1000+ times in print.

Her goals apparently were divided, outward to reassure society the immigrants were safe, and inward to understand and change the behaviors of the immigrants. Her main task was to investigate if these immigrants were an anarchist political sect or a religious cult. She reported they were "Christians," not Jews or Hebrews; they could be assimilated;(19) and they would not be a burden to civil society nor degrade social heredity, as many believed the Jews were doing by interbreeding with Americans. Her work was needed to advise and guide politicians and educators with their integration and assimilation,(19) and to gather data for her husband's social science research on juvenile delinquency. Her work was thorough in some ways, but lacking in other ways.

Young only identified them as "Jumpers" 9 times and the Russian language term Pryguny (Prygunov) is in the book title, but she extensively misused the term Molokan(s) nearly exclusively in all of her publications and presentations about them; as did all scholars citing her publications. Was this is an amazing error, blunder or oversight; or, did she use the false term intentionally to help hide their zealous traits?

No evidence can be found that anyone ever questioned her reports or false labeling, until here and now (year 2010). In 1969 I discussed the completeness of her thesis with a sociology professor at U.C.L.A. who knew her; and he agreed with me that her work had "holes" and more research should be done; but we did not discuss any specific errors or research methods, mainly because at the time I knew little about social science research and my major was in chemistry.

Beginning in 1910 as more housing, employment and social services became available in the Flat(s) (9th ward), Spiritual Christians migrated eastward across the Los Angeles River, out of Bethlehem (8th ward). Congregations, that had to meet together at the Stimpson-Lafayette Industrial School, the Bethlehem Institute or in a cramped house, could separate. Utah street school provided free nursery care for babies. L.A. City Parks and Recreation provided day-care after school. Charities provided food and medical care. Both parents could work full-time, while government and charities managed their kids, dawn to dusk. U.S.C. sociologists probably recommended special educational buildings for immigrants — the "Americanization Building" to teach domestic skills to girls, and adjoining sloyd workshop to each employment skills to boys. A large Quaker-Methodist mission had been in operation since 1904 at Clarence and Third streets. A medical and maternity clinic was on the corner of First and Utah streets.

On the other hand, city life confronted the most zealous Spiritual Christians with drastic cultural and legal challenges to their Old World cultures, which caused many to flee the city to preserve bride-selling, maintain dress and language, and avoid registration (in school, for citizenship; and births, marriages and deaths).

In 1914, the Bethlehem Institutions were closed by the City of Los Angeles for mismanagement. The Rev. Dr. Dana Bartlett could no longer advise nor guide the 12 various religious leaders from Russia who moved away. In the Flat(s), charities and government expanded services for aliens (Armenians, Chinese, Italians, Japanese, Mexicans, Russians, Slavs, etc.) and the poor.

In 1913 the Vislick family left Russian-Poland, when "Pola" was about 17. Within 5 years, by 1918, Pauline Vislick (age ~22) was an undergraduate student, majoring in sociology at the University of Chicago. In September 1918, she married graduate student, Erle F. Young (age 30), born in America. They were both Jewish. The following year, 1919, she graduated from the University of Chicago with a Bachelor of Philosophy degree (Ph.B.) in Sociology. She became a naturalized citizen in 1920. He earned his Ph.D. about 1922 while teaching at the same college. She transformed into a professional American.

In Chicago, they were near the Canadian border during W.W.I where about 5,000 Ukrainians were arrested trying to cross into the U.S., and 8600 interned (jailed from 1914 to 1920) by Anglo-Canadians who feared all immigrant Germans and Ukrainians were enemy aliens. Also across the Canadian border, the much reported fragmented Dukhobor population numbered about 12,000. In 1912, Community Dukhobortsy (C.C.U.B.) were investigated for 4 months by a Canadian commission.(21) Discrimination against Eastern Europeans was widespread, which probably concerned the Vislick family and their relatives who immigrated from the Ukrainian border where Jews were restrained, persecuted and killed.

In 1914, Russian-born Emilio Kosterlitzky was hired by the Department of Justice Bureau of Investigation (B.O.I.), to spy on suspicious aliens in Los Angeles, including those from Russia. He apparently investigated Prygun-owned stores in the "Flat(s)" through the 1920s. He died in 1928 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery, 1 block southeast of the "Old [sectarian] Cemetery" in East Los Angeles.

In 1917, 34 Spiritual Christian "Holy Jumpers" refused to register for the draft in Arizona and were sentenced to 1 year in jail. The most zealous 6, refused to sign upon release from jail, including my grandfather Jacob D. Conovaloff, and were sentenced to life in military prison. Most all of the news and legal documentation labeled these slackers (draft dodgers) as "Molokans." Concurrently, 2 major acts of Congress were passed the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918. Many immigrants were investigated in North America. In 1919, Dukhobortsy in British Columbia, Canada, were disenfranchised (denied the right to vote) for 37 years. The government had to determine if all these mislabeled "Molokan" immigrants were worthy of citizenship, and who should be deported.

In Canada in 1918, goli (nude) svobodniki in British Columbia increased public protests against Community Dukhobortsy, causing P.V. Verigin to ask for a restraining order, which was ignored. The protestors were falsely called Doukhobors, who were sometimes called Molokans. Also in 1918, Lillian Sokoloff, a Home-school teacher at Utah Street School, finished her 3-year survey of Spiritual Christians for the U.S.C. Department of Sociology which was described in the university newspaper in April 1919. 

Beginning in 1919 widespread fear of terrorist acts and protests by immigrant Bolsheviks and anarchists mostly impacted the east coast — 1919 California Flag Law, 1919–1920 First Red Scare, 1919–1920 Palmer Raids, and at the start of the "Red Squad" of the Los Angeles Police Department. 1000s of the Union of Russian Workers were arrested in the New York area and 100s deported, while many left voluntarily. The national news caused scrutiny of most all enclaves of  immigrants from Russia in California, as it did in Arizona after my grandfather and 5 others were released from prison and celebrated as martyrs for not registering for the military draft draft. In 1919 those in Arizona were again accused of being Bolsheviks twice, first in April at the colony, and in December while shopping for land in Casa Grande. In early 1920 hooligans were arrested for assaulting and harassing women. Few if any incidents occurred in Southern California, probably due to a large population of cheap immigrant labor and distance from the east coast; and, the most notable found were 2 bombings in San Francisco, and strikes in Seattle WA and Bisbee AZ.    
In 1920 during the post war depression, most of the distant rural colonies formed by Spiritual Christians, who fled from the "bride-selling" scandal, failed primarily due to buying poor land and the post W.W.I. recession. Perhaps as many as 2000 returned to the Los Angeles enclave where overcrowding, poverty, juvenile delinquency and truancy, crime, alcoholism, domestic violence, and other strife significantly increased in the Flat(s) area. The huge incoming wave back to the Flat(s) certainly alerted government workers.

By the 1920s, the University of Southern California (U.S.C.) in Los Angeles had the most robust sociology program on the west coast with close connections with the University of Chicago. The Youngs appear to have been recruited to U.S.C., he as a teacher and she as a graduate student. About 1923, Pauline V. Young, age 29, enrolled in the sociology graduate program at the U.S.C. She arrived nearly 20 years after the first Spiritual Christians from Russia came to Los Angeles, and 10 years after most all had arrived. Most Spiritual Christians from Russia had been integrating and assimilating(19) for 15 years, and about 2000 poor failed colonists just arrived, which nearly doubled the Spiritual Christian population from Russia to perhaps 4,000 in the city. Again, they were a huge social problem on the booming East side.

Mrs. Pola Young was born in the Russian Partition (Russian Poland), spoke Russian, had first-hand experience with eugenics and ethnic discrimination in Europe and America, and immigrant Slavic populations in the U.S.A. At U.S.C. she was undoubtedly the ideal sociology student to continue the research begun by Lillian Sokoloff a decade earlier on the fragmented sectarian (non-Orthodox, non-Jewish) population from Russia, concentrated in East Los Angeles (today called Boyle Heights), and continued in 1924 by student Wicliffe Stack ("Social Values of Prygun Molokan Religion"). She could have chosen to study the Orthodox immigrants from Russia, but they had very few juvenile delinquents, and her Jewish background probably attracted her to, and appealed to, those sectarians from Russia who favored Old Testament laws. The most important reasons were probably because the government identified them as a social problem, and her husband needed data on this cohort of juvenile delinquents. Of all the students, she was the best fit to conduct social science research on the Spiritual Christians from Russia, while other graduate students were matched with different immigrant populations. Within 2 decades many major alien nationalities, minority and poverty areas in Los Angeles were documented by U.S.C. sociology students — a huge body of social research.

She probably was accepted by many of the soon-to-be Dukhizhiznik faiths because she spoke Russian well, could not be rejected by zealots as a "pork-eater," was a small woman, and understood many of their holidays. She also arrived about decade after the educated Russians (Demens, Cherbak, de Blumenthal, etc.) gave up, Bethlehem closed (1914), and Sokoloff reported (1918), during a long lull in sincere outsider interest by a Russian-speaker. Her first task involved examining the book they were debating and trying to republish about 7 times, which they called Dukh i zhizn'.

In 1924 a colony of independent Dukhobortsy (edinolichniki) formed at Manteca in the San Joaquin Valley, about 65 miles driving east from San Francisco, 100 miles north from Kerman.

In October 1924, Peter V. Verigin, the leader of the Christian Community of Universal Brother hood (C.C.U.B., communal Doukhobors in Canada) was killed in a train explosion with 8 others in eastern British Columbia, Canada, less than 20 miles from the U.S border, 112 miles north of Spokane, Washington. Extensive research reveals no definite Canadian culprits, but investigators have not be able to access U.S.A. records from the F.B.I. regarding possible involvement of the Ku Klux Klan in Oregon, who are among the most likely suspects. Also this year, J.E. Hoover became the F.B.I. director. It is possible that the U.S. Government could have wanted an expert analysis of the new Dukhizhiznik religion and sociology of historically related Spiritual Christians in Los Angeles County, to avoid any similar potential act of terrorism in the U.S.A. Knowing more about these immigrant sects from Russia was probably important for national security due to the bride-selling scandal (1911-1915), all boys in Arizona jailed for not registering for the draft (1917-1918) and 6 went to federal prison (1918-1922), only 1 in 200 registered for citizenship (1918), and 2 presbyters were arrested and fined in Arizona for not registering births, marriages or deaths (1920).

Young finished her master thesis in 1925, which focused on the new holy book project — Dukh i zhizn' — being debated and revised. She then worked as a social economist for the State of California, and the next year her husband accepted a teaching job in the Sociology Department at U.S.C. Her husband was teaching at the University of Chicago where he promoted social mapping and data analysis. At U.S.C. he became the national analyzer of data about urban juvenile delinquents, for which his wife would gather the Los Angeles data.

Also in 1925, a book about juvenile delinquency, Youth in Conflict by Miriam Van Waters, was published, in which the first case was about 5 Prygun boys arrested for burglary. The author served as superintendent of the new Juvenile Hall for Los Angeles County (1917-1920), and was appointed the Referee (like a judge) for the new Juvenile Court (1920-1930). While she was writing her book, Van Waters lectured at U.S.C. once a week, where she undoubtedly met Dr. and Mrs. Young. In her 1932 book, Young cites Van Waters once on page 213, and uses her data for "Table IV: Number and Type of Offenses of 24 Prygun Molokan Girls (from 13 to 18 years of age.)", page 214. The fact that 23 of the 24 were in Juvenile Hall for "Runaway and sex delinquency" shocked and/or angered many readers, while others denied the report.

The Youngs needed to quickly analyze this alien population from Russia to provide information for social intervention and aid, while other sociologists were performing similar studies of immigrants from other countries. The Department of Sociology at U.S.C. was a growing team of scientists trying to guide the diagnosis and cure of social ills — alcoholism, poverty, illiteracy, crime, unemployment, teen pregnancy, prostitution, etc.

In 1926 ".. nearly two million Russians are scattered all over the world as refugees, .." (Creston Review, May 14, 1926, page 2), and the rapidly growing population of Los Angeles was about 900,000. In 1926, the Spiritual Christian population in Los Angeles of about 4,000 was about 0.2% of world refugees from Russia, and about 0.44% of the rapidly growing City of Los Angeles. Though these are relatively very tiny fractions, their population was very concentrated in the poorest neighborhood of Ward 9 (east of the LA River), and nearly all their kids attended one grammar school and playground (Utah street), a territory their youth gangs dominated. The Utah playground preceded the Pecan playground. Young used a then-current slang name for her subjects' territory — Russian-Town — in the title of her book.

Though Pauline Young correctly defines her subjects as immigrants from Russia who call themselves Spiritual Christian Pryguny and use a new ritual book called Dukh i zhizn', she overwhelmingly mistakenly calls them Molokans (at least 1500 times) in all her publications, lectures and news reports. It's a mystery why she never met real Molokane in San Francisco.

Was it intentional, or due to lack of interest or time? Why were the Spiritual Christians in Los Angeles the focus of her work and not those in San Francisco? Was it because the govenment was more interested in the Los Angles group immigrants? Certainly the City government was interested in interventions for juvenile delinquency, truancy, and other crimes.

Her mislabeling broadly spread the misnomer initiated by Demens 2 decades earlier, providing a false scholarly endorsement which continues up to this taxonomy.

Statistical analysis of her name hijacking is in-progress. Here is a fragment:

Frequency Count of Selected Terms Used in The Pilgrims of Russian-town, 1932.
Term Cluster
Graph (each bar = 10)
Molokan(s) 819 Molokane 14, Molokani 1, Molokanye 1,
milk-drinker(s) 5, Molokanism 50
|||||||||| |||||||||| |||||||||| |||||||||| |||||||||| |||||||||| |||||||||| |||||||||| |||||||||
Postoyannie 3
Steady 4
Prygun Прыгун 1, Jumpers 9, jumping 10 20 ||
Spiritual Christian(s) 15 S. Christianity 1, S. Brotherhood 7,
S. worshipers 1, S. believers 3
sect(s) 194 sectarian(s) 61
255 |||||||||| |||||||||| ||||||
colony 115 community 100, communal 37, obshchestvo 3 255 |||||||||| |||||||||| ||||||
brotherhood 117 bratstvo 4
121 |||||||||| ||
Spirit and Life 21 Dukh i zhizn' (Duch i Jizn) 4
25 |||

M.G. Rudomyotkin (~1818-1877) 20 ||

E.G. Klubnikin (1842-1915) 6

P.M. Shubin (1855-1932) 5



prophet(s) 33
prophecy 2, prophecies 6, prophetic 3
* All incidents of the word are counted., including title, contents and index.

The chart shows that in her 296-page 1932 book, Young used the "Molokan" terms 890 times, or an average of 3 per page (890/296 = 3.0) 44.5 times more than the Prygun terms (890/20 = 44.5), 98% of occurrences (890/910 = 0.978), though she states that Pryguny (Jumpers) is their actual label and it is the only term shown in her book title, in English and Russian. This is like publishing a book titled "Dogs" on the cover, then on the inside pages mostly saying they are "cats" — grossly deceptive!

She mentions Postoyannie only 7 times, 35% as often as Prygun (7/20 = 0.35). She defines this term only citing the Dukh i zhizn':
" ... the Postoyannye, or Steady, who do not jump, denying any religious validity of the estasy which sweeps over the individual when under the influence of the Holy Ghost.(4)

"4. See Spirit and Life, page 21. The resemblance of this sect to the Molokans is so close that they attend the same sobranie and even intermarry."(Pilgrims of Russia-town, page 65)
In "Glossary" (page 284), Young similarly defines:
'Postoyannyie — "Steady," a sect within the Molokan [sect] which does not recognize an special validity in "jumping." '
She did not understand that Postoyannie was a zealot Prygun pejorative for Molokane, nor that Pryguny are a different faith who were transforming into a new faith: Dukhizhizniki. It was as if she was describing apples, oranges and bananas, only as apples, while ignoring their significant differences.

Diaspora Molokane and Pryguny could marry diaspora Dukhizhizniki because they were all considered to be of "Zion" for following Klubnikin's prophesy to leave Russia for refuge (pakhod),(Berokoff, page 14) and if they abandoned their Molokan or Prygun faith to be confirmed into a Dukhizhiznik faith. Young apparently did not realize that because Molokane in Los Angeles had no prayer hall or presbyter, most assimilated(19) while a minority integrated among Dukhizhizniki, mainly by joining the most liberal "Big Church."

Only one case interview mentioned Postoyannie. A woman married out, divorced and married a "Steady." She is quoted:
"... women of my character should hold her tongue in 'church.' I was humiliated and broken up over it, .. I just have to keep on trying until they accept me again." (Pilgrims of Russia-town, page 79)
Young's data does not reveal the variety of religious politics among and within congregations. The woman quoted above could be in a zealous or liberal congregation. Her family could or could not have "front-row" males whose presence and public contact could provide social-status protection for her. These unknown social variables would affect the subject's group acceptance and interpretation of Young's interview data.

Young used the "Spirit and Life" book title 25 times, 5 more than the 20 Prygun terms; and when added to the name count of the 2 prophets/elders (Rudomyotkin, Klubnikin) whose writings constitute most of the new holy book, the "Spirit and Life" terms become 51, or 2.6 times (51/20=2.6) the Prygun terms count of 20; and adding "Ararat" (7) and "Zion" (3) increases "Spirit and Life" terms to 61, 3 times (61/20=3.05) the Prygun terms. Of the 3 prophets/elders, Rudomyotkin is mentioned nearly twice as often as Klubnikin and Shubin combined (20/11=1.8). Her book is mostly about Dukhizhizniki.

Though the "front row" (prestol : престол) position of "prophet" (prorok : пророк) does not exist in Molokan congregations, Young used this term group 41 times.

Young uses the general broader term clusters of "sect-colony-brotherhood" second in frequency compared to the Molokan term cluster; but, even when combined, they compare at 71% of the frequency of the "Molokan" terms ([255+355+115]/890 = .709). She did not know or report that the original label for the first immigrants in 1904 was the Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians.

Due to the high frequency of mixing misleading terms and names, typical readers of The Pilgrims of Russian-town mistakenly infer that Rudomyotkin is the main prophet of Molokans who use the holy book Spirit and Life and jump during services. A myth. Disinformation.

Closer examination, or a historical revision, shows that her subjects were Spiritual Christian Pryguny, as stated in her title, who are producing a new holy book they called Dukh i zhizn'. They were sectarians (non-Orthodox Russian citizens, heretics) who identify themselves as a "brotherhood" community of faiths, not a single faith; but, Young insists on repeatedly labeling them all with an incorrect single term (Molokan), a faith with whom she has no personal experience. She never interviewed a Molokan congregant, yet mentions San Francisco 12 times in her book and presents them all as the same people, based on secondary and tertiary sources. She does not understand that Postoyannie is a pejorative used to dis Molokane, a different faith thriving in San Francisco but extinguished in Los Angeles. The data shows that Young overwhelmingly falsely presented non-Molokane as Molokane.

Did she do this on purpose? If so, what was the purpose? This question could be answered, at least in part, with research in-progress. Readers with inquiring minds, stay tuned, and/or submit your theories.

As a Russian-speaking social scientist, Dr. Young should have recognized that these immigrants were not Molokane. Some were Maksimisty who were insisting that all congregations only adhere to their rituals and new holy book, which some intended to to replace the New Testament. Others were Davidisty, Klunikinisty, Sionisty, etc.

On pages listed in footnote 1, page 35, she describes "revelations" and "prophets" which do not exist in the Molokan faith as positions of elders at the altar table (prestol). Her false label transfer from Prygun to Molokan appears on page 34:
.. Molokans "jump" and "speak in tongues." This religious ecstasy has won for the Molokans the name of "Jumpers", which designation they accept." ..
She did not recognize, or refused to recognize, that her subjects were a new faith based on a new holy book, a faith now accurately called Dukhizhiznik. She appears to ignore the fact that petitioners during W.W.I. identified themselves as Pryguny, as did those who approved printing the Kniga solntse, dukhi i zhizn'.

Drs. Young were professionally noted for being affiliated with the new School of Social Administration developed by the University of Chicago from the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, where he was one of the first instructors and she was among the first graduate students. Dean of the Chicago School, Robert E. Park, who wrote the preface to her book, was nationally recognized as the "father of human ecology." Dr. Erle Young's 1922 Ph.D. thesis is: "The Use of Case Method in Training Social Workers." Together they pioneered social research about urban juvenile delinquency.

While appearing credible due to affiliations and credentials, her research had major flaws. Perhaps her focus on juvenile delinquency was so narrow that it limited a broader perspective, or the subjects varied too much for her to comprehend how many different faiths were in her sample population, or only a few interacted with her in a formal manner so as not to reveal their diverse faiths. No matter what the reason(s), her work then, like that of all scientists, is subject to scrutiny and improvement.

From 1925 to 1932, she produced 8 publications about Pryguny and Dukhizhizniki — 2 thesis (1925, 1928), 4 papers (1927, 1929, 2 in 1930), and a book (1932). Examples of her unpublished research was included as lessons in her sociology textbook and in several lectures. She planned to update her 1932 book in the 1950s, but lost her source notes in a fire.

37 years after Young published her 1932 book, in 1969, J.K. Berokoff continued to infect the next generations of Dukhizhizniki, scholars and journalists with the false "Molokan" label.


Upon learning English, many who lived in their ethnic enclave in Los Angeles became afraid and ashamed to be known by their actual faiths imported from Russia — Pryguny or “Jumpers” in English; Sionisty, Subbotniki and Noviy israili about which local Jews protested in court, or by any other term except the false “Molokan” label, though their religions were not Molokan and the most zealous despised Molokane. Unfortunately their preferred correct general term "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians" faded from popular usage by W.W.II, perhaps sounding too common or American for those who chose to live in America. Maybe it was too long; but not shortened to B.S.C. In contrast, the most zealous Russian-born Maksimisty who believed they will return to Mt. Ararat before the Apocalypse, planned to leave soon, also tended to call themselves Pryguny, believed they were "chosen" and were not concerned with establishing themselves in America nor hiding their faiths and ritual books.

Upon arrival in America, most Spiritual Christians remained in the city, or returned to urban life after most of the American land deals failed. (Speeks' report about Hawaii, page 29, is wrong. See above : Demens.) While Maksimisty failed to return to Mt. Ararat, most Klubnikinisty failed to find a land of refuge, and Novyi izrail' failed to move to Israel. By default the promised land for the majority transformed into a kingdom in the city — a Mother colony in the Flats and Boyle Heights — a melting pot of many nationalities and races.

The Southern California metropolis greatly aided these poor immigrant peasants with mild climate, a huge year-round food supply, free meeting rooms, easy access to abundant utilities (water, gas, electric, sewage), free translation services, free medical care, free child day care with baths, free city/county burials, free county court marriages, free education, free supervised playgrounds until dusk, free youth clubs, free supervised sports for youth, free classes for adults by Russian-speaking teachers (English, general education, citizenship, cooking, sewing, shop skills), free job training and placement, free advice (legal, colonization), low-cost convenient public transportation, urban entertainment, local police and fire services, much higher wages than rural life; and a choice of many Protestant faiths and city temptations. They found economic and religious freedom in their urban enclave irresistible when compared to rural alternatives.

After the Molokan Settlement Association failed in Hawai'i in early 1906, most Molokane resettled in San Francisco and most Pryguny-etc. in Los Angeles and Mexico. The minority of Pryguny in San Francisco had no Maksimisty in 1928, rejected the Dukh i zhizn' and kept their original “Holy Jumper” identity until merging with the Molokane when their building was sold in the 1960s. The only absolutist was their Prygun presbyter Alexei John Dobrinen, who insisted on being buried only with Pryguny in East Los Angeles, while his wife (Anastasia) and kids were buried with ne nashi Russian sectarians in Colma.

In Los Angeles, upon learning English, most of the Americanized younger Pryguny-etc. were taught to say they were “Molokan” or "Protestant," while the most aggressive Maksimisty and associated charismatic zealots reported to the press they were Pryguny and Holy Jumpers, and they eventually changed the faith of all congregations in Los Angeles to Dukhizhiznik. Dissenters left the faiths, were pushed out, or were marginalized (allowed to attend if "paid" members, to observe, do as told, but not speak out).

The last active public reporting by Dukhizhizniki in Southern California that they were "Russian Molokan Christian Holy Spiritual Jumpers" was in September 1964 when 2000 gathered in San Pedro to send off 32 people on a ship to Australia. The less zealous majority who remained intensified their identity camouflage and issued a press release on October 2, 1964, stating they were not leaving America.

Reasons for the pre-1930 Prygun-etc. cover-up continued by Dukhizhizniki are extensive:
  • Sensational press about and hatred for radical American Pentecostals also called Holy Jumpers in California before 1904 (a policeman threatened to bomb a meeting, disturbing peace, arranged spiritual marriages, bigamy, unwanted, queer, demonstrations, etc.)
  • Questioning their Christian identity and beliefs in the midst of the hotbed of Pentecostal revival in Los Angeles (mass tent meetings, active evangelism nearby and in media), and differentiating from apostolic dancers, and "Pentecostal Dancers...".
  • Zealous Maksimist prophets and leaders (religious street maneuvers, marching to Los Angeles City Hall, evacuating to mountains for the apocalypse, disharmony; and failed resurrections, exorcisms, and farm colonies).
  • Public investigations, embarrassing news and arrests of Pryguny-etc. (court hearings for disturbing peace, funeral nudity, juvenile gang arrests, work and street gang fights, selling brides, juvenile prostitution, not registering births or deaths, unregistered marriages, not registering for military, selling liquor without license, Jews demanding deportation of these judiazing impostors in court, etc.).
  • 1907 April, in Los Angeles P(F). M. Shubin, during his son's wedding, reported "… that they have believed in the gift of tongues … the leadership of (Maksim) Rudomyotkin to this day … that he will return and lead them to the promised land … they have recently received word from Russia that a prophet had a vision that this leader will soon return to them … They cannot buy more communal land (in Mexico?) because they are going back to Russia." The journalist also mistakes these Maksimisty for starovery in his next paragraph. Later, Shubin denounced Rudomyotkin and remained a Prygun by faith until death in 1932.
  • 1909 failed suicide by sweethearts forbidden by the girl's father to marry. Alexis Kottoff 23 shot Anna Sossoeff 16 and himself. Both nearly died in hospital. He was imprisoned 5 years. Zealous father Alex Sossoeff was in debt and needed his daughter to work for him, and not marry a "freethinking" Molokan, educated from a different faith.
  • Immigrants from Russian not appearing nationalistic:

— 1903 Anarchist Exclusion Act,
— 1903-1907 Naturalization Act of 1906,
— 1907-1911 Dillingham Commission,
— 1913 California Alien Land Act,
— 1914-1920 Ukrainian Canadian internment,
Immigration Act of 1917,
Espionage Act of 1917,
Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917,
— 1917-1919 Committee on Public Information,
Immigration Act of 1918,
— 1918 Slacker Raids,
Sedition Act of 1918,
Overman Committee (1918-1919),
— 1919 California Criminal Syndicalism Act,
— 1919 California Flag Law,
— 1919–1920 First Red Scare,
— 1919–1920 Palmer Raids,
— 1920 19th Amendment,
— 1920-1933 Prohibition,
— 1920 2nd California Alien Land Act,
— 1921 Emergency Quota Act,
Immigration Act of 1924,
— 1924 death of P.V. Verigin, chairman CCUB (community Doukhbors)
— 1926-1950 "Red Squad" of Los Angeles Police Department,
— 1947–1991 Cold War).
  • Pacifists were attacked in 1917 by hyperpatriot (uber-patriot, ultranationalistic) journalists at The Los Angeles Times, and government investigators, who believed the Bible supported war.
  • They were confused with Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W., "Wobblies") founded in 1905, who adapted holy jumper /roller songs and promotion methods as protest songs. In November 1919, Pryguny in Arizona seeking to buy land near Casa Grande were physically forced out town by a gang of angry locals who claimed these Russians were "Wobblies" for refusing to register for the draft, resulting in an investigation by the Pima county attorney.
  • They could be confused with controversial Spiritualists who advertised seances and sessions in Los Angeles in the early 1900s.
  • Contact with Spiritual Christian svobodniki (literally: "free men" but translated as “Freedomites" in the news) who petitioned to resettle in the US (1902) and Hawaii (1906), and return to Russia (1957) and were were mistaken to be Dukhobortsy. In the 1920s journalists called them "Sons of Freedom", or "Sons", perhaps for being somewhat similar to earlier European political freedom protestors of the same label.
  • Contact with Community Dukhobortsy, C.C.U.B. (Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood), to join communes in Hawaii (1898, 1906), California (Los Angeles 1908, Santa Barbara 1910, Oregon 1923, Mexico 1923-1938), who were mistaken to be nudists, terrorists, arsonists, and “Sons of Freedom.”
  • Other Americans who ridiculed the Russian immigrants for long beards (“bewhiskered,” “whisker street”), peasant clothes, poverty, illiteracy, truancy, alcoholism, youth gangs, and divided them into “ancients” and “moderns.”
  • Americanizing process. The Bethlehem Institutions specialized in transforming foreigners and illiterate peasants into educated, law-abiding, self-sufficient, Christian citizens. The Spiritual Christians were a major government assimilation(19) project for decades. Neighboring Russian Jews who arrived earlier were abandoning Judaism for Americanism, intermarrying, buying houses, establishing businesses, becoming non-kosher. The Molokane, Subbotniki and Armenian Pryguny rapidly intergrated and assimilated.(19) Many girls were hired as maids by integrated(19) wealthy Russians, many in or near Pasadena.
  • Confusion over the location of the prophetic “South” or "East." 
    • The majority of Maksimisty who stayed near Mt. Ararat claim those who left to America had abandoned their prophetic promised land and apocalypse. Maksimisty gathered in Los Angeles planned to return to their villages near Mt. Ararat up to 1945, then resolved to remain in the city as Dukhizhizniki, definitely not as Pryguny or Molokane.
    • In Tavria, Spiritual Christians had contact with a faction of German protestants who were following their German prophesy to go "south" to Mt. Zion (Jerusalem) for an 1836 Apocalypse, inspired by Jung-Stilling's fictional religious fantasies about refuge in the Far East. Many who were sick or tired, settled near Odessa. When some of these Germans got as far south as the Caucasus, they were not allowed visas to continue out of Russia, so they declared Mt. Ararat to be the location for the 2nd coming of Christ. M.G. Rudomyotkin apparently adopted this German prophesy for his Zion. A more documented and discussed "Great Trek" (pakhod) occurred among varieties of Mennonites in 1880-1882 to Turkestan, Central Asia, to meet Christ in 1889.(23)
    • Descendants of Maskimisty who immigrated to Arizona after 1911, revived their prophesy to go “south” and first chose Mexico in the 1920s, then chose the Southern Hemisphere in the 1960s, but others divided between Australia and South America. A few spoke of Israel to align with Biblical Zionists.
    • Denials in 1939 and 1945 by the Turkish government for Dukhizhizniki to return to Kars province and rejoin those who never left the territory of Mt. Ararat, the MGR prophetic promised land. Most remaining in Kars province relocated to the Northern Caucasus in 1962. About 2010, a prophecy to return to Kars caused some to return to their former homes in Turkey from Stavropol, Russia.
    • During the Cold War, Dukhizhiznik prophets in Arizona and Southern California concurred that “south” for them was the southern hemisphere where nuclear fallout was least likely during the feared WWIII apocalypse.
      • Attempts since the 1950s to establish colonies in South America (Uruguay and Brazil) by various groups from Southern California, perhaps to live near Russian colonists already there (New Israelites, Mennonites, Starovery, Subbotniki), secure permanent conscientious objector status, and/or form a rural colony.
      • 1960s mass migration by diaspora to Australia, but not to one location, resulting in a wider geographic dispersion than in the U.S., and dividing into about 10 congregations. Many returned to the U.S. or assimilated.(19)
      • Baja California, Mexico pakhod site rented by Staryi Romanovskii sobranie (Blue Top, Clela Ave.), Montebello.
  • Deadbeat faith — Organizations and individuals repeatedly refused to pay debts, and commit fraud and theft, unless arrested. Many professed Christians revel their ugly "deadbeat faith" when it is personally financially advantageous to bully and steal from other members and charity funds.
    • 1905 — The Mexico Guadalupe colony neglected to assure a full 7% commission to de Blumenthal for arranging their land purchase from Donald Barker, an attorney. In 1909, I.G. Samarin sued the seller for half the commission of $3425 in Superior Court. (First Prygun court case, research in-progress.)
    • 1906 — 110 people went to Hawaii, many expecting to get rich quick by flipping homestead land with little effort. They found wages lower than in California cities and refused to join the Molokan Settlement Association, led by John Kurbatoff, or work as a team; and defaulted on their agreement to purchase land for $5.69/acre. Financiers lost $20,000. Government lost most of a year trying to accommodate their changing demands.
    • 1945 — After World War II, Dukhizhiznik conscientious objectors (COs) refused to pay the $17,024 balance, about half, of their Civilian Public Service (CPS) camp bill, scamming 3 peace churches. (Research complete, to be posted.)
    • 1974 — The LA-UMCA refused to pay $20 for janitorial service ($4/hour for 5 hours) causing the Recreation Committee to quit in 1974, and the Board never honestly reporting to members. Social programs diminished thereafter.
    • 1976 — The Molokan Agricultural Colony (MAC) refused to refund shares to disgruntled Alex A.W. Kotoff family after they departed from the Mato Grosso, Brazil, commune. Kotoff sued MAC (Efseaffs) in court to get refunded. (To be posted.)
    • 2002 — The Heritage Club refused to pay for administrative costs (less than 2%) to protect and deliver a $1.8 million donation from the Estate of Dr. John A. Shubin, yet obeyed Morrie Adnoff's order to secretly give $600,000 (30%) in hush-money bribes to delusional greedy members to protect his business image and lucrative city rubbish contracts worth many millions to himself, and those who supported him. Significantly, the only mediation hearing occurred on the morning of September 11, 2001 in the midst of a news marathon now known as "9-11." No accounting was reported to their membership. The deadbeat Heritage Club perpetrated the largest charity fraud and scam in Dukhizhiznik history. (Research complete, to be posted.)
    • 2004 — The Dukhizhiznik HH-UMCA (Hacienda Heights, CA) supported a theft of $900+ from the Arizona sobranie bank account, and theft of property (meeting hall, cemetery, about 2 acres) by publishing false names in their 2004 and 2008 directories thus reporting them as legitimate presbyters and members of their Dukhizhiznik faiths. The phoney members then stole $300,000 in cash by isolating their senile presbyter, John J. Conovaloff from his wife and children. (Research complete, to be posted.)
The simple, non-threatening and unique term “Molokan” was simply ideal to distinguish the majority Spiritual Christians (Pryguny, Klubnikinisty, Maksimisty, etc.) in Los Angeles from Russian Bolshevik immigrants, Russian Jews, American Pentecostal “holy jumpers,” and to hide their actual faiths. Only a few families were actually Molokane in Los Angeles, and either lacked a presbyter and/or were too few to establish a congregation, and any effort to form a Molokan congregation was attacked by those promoting the Kniga solntse, dukh i zhizn'. Upon immigration some joined other Russian-speaking Protestant churches in Los Angeles, like the Presbyterians downtown, Russian Baptists in The Flat(s) and Russian Evangelic Christians in Boyle Heights.

A neutral sounding simple label was essential for both the religious zealots (ancients), and Americanized (moderns) who quickly learned English. The moderns could get education and good jobs by appearing American. Ancients' oral history demands hiding their secret faiths from non-believers and the government, hence most falsely reported they were “milk-drinkers,” “Molokans,” pacifists, Protestants, etc. anything that appears respectable in English except Pryguny, Holy Jumpers, Spirit Jumpers, Maksimisty, Sionisty, New Israelites, etc.

Pryguny never claim to be Maksimisty. Maksimsity sometimes claim to be Pryguny. In a semantically abusive compromise, zealots ganged up on their enemy and claimed to be the "True Molokans," or simply "Molokans." Because Dukhizhizniki had little contact with, or opposition from, actual Molokane organized 400 miles away in Northern California, they did as they pleased in Southern California as fractionated unregulated congregations.

Having arrived at the American promised land, Spiritual Christians were free to join any faith in America, which most did. Some camouflaged their Russian heritage by legally changing their Russian surnames, or Americanizing them.

Andrews — Androff, Veronin
Baker — Butchinoff
Bolder — Bolderoff
Brewer — Pivovaroff
Cherney — Chernikoff
Chick — Chickenoff, Chickinoff
Conway — Konovaloff
Corney — Corneyff
Domane — Domansky
Durain — Urane
Eagles — Arinin, Orloff
Egnatu — Egnatoff
Eleen — Elinov
Fettis — Fettesoff, Fettisoff
Golf — Goulokin
Jackson — ________?
Johnson — Varonin
Kalp — Kalpakoff
Kariff — Bogdanoff
Karp — Carpoff
Kash — Kashirsky
Kazy — Kasimoff ?
Kissell — Kisseloff, Kesseloff
Klubnik — Klubnikin
________? — Kochergen
Kott — Kotoff
Emerald — Kriakin
Krase — Krasilnikoff
Cousins — Kuznetsoff
Hall — Hallivichoff, Golovachev
Martin — Fetesoff
Maxwell — Mackshanoff
Lashin — Laschenco
Liege — Ledieav?
Leigh — ________?
Martin — Slivkoff
Melnick — Melnikoff
Mosser — Moiseve
Niles — Gvozdiff
Pluss — Plujnkoff
Preston — Popoff
Remmy — Rudometkin
Riley — Galitzen
Ruddy — Rudometkin
Saber — Tikhunov
Samoff — Semenisheff
Seaking — Syapin
Somers — Somaduroff
Stubin — Stupin, Steuben
Tolmage — ______?
Sharon — Chernabieff
Thatch — _______?
Thomas/Tolmas — Tolmasoff
Young — _______?
Wolf — Volkoff
Wren — Uren
—— Count = 56 ——

Many Americanized Spiritual Christian youth did not like to kiss old people or the same sex, the long services in Russian (a foreign language to them), hard backless benches, old-world traditions and clothes, and/or be forced to jump; and, homophobics hated same-sex holy-kissing (brother/sister kiss).

By the 1940s, most all U.S. descendants of Pryguny outside of Northern California who remained in the faith transformed into Dukhizhizniki with varying degrees of acceptance of their “new ritual” (novyi obryad). About 90% of Pryguny descendants in the U.S. rejected the new Dukhizhiznik faith to join organized American faiths, many joining or attending in groups. After learning about Protestant Christianity in America, many doubted that their ancestors were Christian. (Can you be Molokan and Christian at the same time?) Some were ostracized for questioning the elders about beliefs and rituals, a process which continues more than 100 years after immigration.

After 100 years, the “Molokan” brand-jacking continues to confuse the people it intended to protect from deportation and shelter from discrimination. Though a majority of diaspora Dukhizhizniki appreciate aspects of their Russian cultural heritage, most do not know that real Molokane accept the divorced and intermarried, that Molokane celebrate the Birth of Christ (Christmas), Molokane do not demand peasant Russian dress for worship or beards on men, parting hair in middle, and other typical characteristics of diaspora Dukhizhizniki. After a century, most diaspora descendants live scattered in cities, melted into America, and do not know their history or relatives, or care to know.

Zealous Dukhizhizniki continue to shun, insult and chase out non-conformists of their rituals, effectively reducing their membership, and either causing new congregations to form or ostracizing members forever. Some of the most zealous Dukhizhizniki believe Molokane are their historic enemy, and dogmatically scorn Molokane, Pryguny, Subbotniki and Americanized members as heretics, yet insist in print to the government and to each other that they are “Molokans,” even the “True Molokans.”

In Russia their enemy was the Orthodox government and Church. During the first 2 decades in America their enemy was the government and other faiths, until they were denied returning to Turkey. After 1940, the American-born Dukhizhizniki took command and identified new enemies within their own faiths and families. Today the worst enemy of these self-professed ethnic “Molokans” are other self-professed ethnic “Molokans.” Dukhizhiznizki still retain the Old Russian Orthodox law that apostasy and proselytizing are crimes worse than murder, and theft is not a crime. Diaspora prophet and pundit, Fred Vasilich Slivkoff, since the 1960s often quipped: “We fled Russia to escape prosecutions of the Orthodox Church, came to America and invented our own 'Orthodox Church'!” Slivkoff refers to strict unwritten rules about behavior, dress, rituals, language, etc. Since the 1990s, a Los Angeles elder singer and historian James John Samarin quotes Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

In contrast, to the above two comments about their new tribal Orthodoxy, the late "Big Church" elder, Alex Shubin, summarized: "Dukhizhizniki Molokans are the most democratic people in the world. Every one does as he damn pleases!"

A clash of animositites among Dukhizhizniki resulted in a variety of independent congregations and individuals, including this free-speech website.

To get a privilege

As was done in Old Russia, changing religious identity to get a privilege was done in America. The following 3 incidents further illustrate the name confusion problem.

No photo on driver's license — A court ruling in 1984 in California legally allowed Benjamin Stackler, not of Spiritual Christian descent, who testified that he was a member of a Molokan church of one member (himself), to not show his photo on his driver's license, using a 1964 Dukhizhiznik precedent (by Ivan Shubin). The truth is that all Molokane have photos on their passports and documents with no religious code against photographs. This is like a chicken that can't quack telling everyone it is a duck, and everyone, including the government, believing it is a duck, not questioning why it does not look, walk or quack like a duck. The same holds for Dukhizhizniki who are not Molokane or Pryguny but falsely tell everyone they are, register their organizations with false terms, and falsely title their publications and property signs. Even though a court ruled Stackler was "Molokan," the American Dukhizhizniki would not have allowed him to join their congregations because he was ne nash (not ours), nor would they bury him. Who is he? Он чей?

Remove our names — In August 1997 the Pivovaroff brothers, Morris (California USA) and Jim (South Australia), attended the first Molokan Youth Conference, held in Tambov, Russia. With them were 3 younger family members (Morris M. Morris Pivovaroff Jr, Micheal John Mendrin, Steven James Shubin) — 5 Dukhizhizniki. When their names were posted on the event attendance roster on the Internet, read by many lurking diaspora Dukhizhizniki, their relatives were immediately chastised in both countries before they returned home, because their names were shown on a web page with Molokane and the name of the Tambov Orthodox priest. The Pivovaroff group left the conference early and did not get to tour the oldest Orthodox church in Tambov, so they did not meet the priest. But, because all news was posted on one web page, they were "unclean" by association. For months the brothers were in a frenzy calling my parents in Arizona, demanding that their names be removed. I did not know about their fits during the 3 months I was in Russia, getting married and collecting data. In Tambov they said they will come to our Prygun wedding, but never contacted us. It was excruciating for the Pivovaroff brothers, as if they were facing excommunication or worse. The original Molokan Home Page website was hosted by a college professor, which I could not edit until I returned to Arizona 5-6 months after the conference, though I could add news by e-mail from a Tambov university. Molokane in San Francisco who attended the same conference were bewildered. Why would someone claim to be a Molokan brother, attend their event in good faith, take pictures with them, sing with them, pray with them, eat with them, then demand shouting that they were not there? At the same time the Pivovaroff's believed in the Dukh i zhizn' and stated that all "Molokan" congregations who use the Dukh i zhizn' in services must be Maksimsity (actually Dukhizhizniki).

Molokan wedding — 15 years later, on July 15, 2012, elder Morris M. Pivovaroff spoke in the San Francisco Molokan prayer hall during services. (He was shocked I was there, doing archival research.) Like a chameleon, he again changed his identity. He stated every reason he could think of that he was a "Molokan" (We are all one big Molokan brotherhood. My heritage village was named Semyonovka, after Semyon Uklein who founded our Molokan faith. My grandfather attended the 100th Molokan Jubilee for Religious Freedom in Voronstovka in 1905. He also attended the 150th celebration in San Francisco. I attended the 1992 Molokan international convention in Russia, at which he refused to speak on camera. My family attended the 1997 Molokan youth conference in Tambov. I attended weddings and funerals in your church. People here attended my wedding in Kerman. You prayed for my sick relatives.) During lunch after sobranie, when asked by the Molokan presbyter Kapsof: "Who is Rudomyotkin? How can he claim to be king of the spirits?" M.M. Pivovaroff quickly stated: "I am not saying anything." After lunch, Pivovaroff met with the Molokan komitet to petition that his youngest daughter and her American fiance be allowed to join the Molokan faith and be married in San Francisco. On October 7, Ona and Brian Rose alone joined the Molokan faith, with no relatives on either side attending to participate in their ceremony. (I happened to be there again doing archival research.) None attended their shower. And only immediate family and a few friends attended the wedding held in May 2013, far fewer than would have attended a nashi wedding in a nashi location. Per Pivovaroffs' recent testimony, I restored their names to the 1997 roster, and ask if all congregations are of the same faith, why didn't the couple get married in Kerman?

There are many such examples. The above are 3 which I witnessed, and I am sure many readers have other examples which few will talk about. Fear of recording their actual history is ingrained among most zealous Spiritual Christians which misleads many who try to understand them, including their progeny.

9. Name Confusion

Molokane have been confused with Mennonites, Mormons, Quakers, Hungarians, Dukhobortsy, Svobodniki, Sons of Freedom, Old Ritualists, Pryguny and a new religion formalized in the U.S.— Dukhizhizniki — for many reasons.
  • Terms used to describe the heterodox (non-Orthodox, dissidents, heretics, sectarians) varied by time, user and geography. At different times and places in the Russian Empire, the same non-Orthodox were called khlysty, shalaputy, kvakery and/or molokane. All of these terms were used to identify and describe the same dissidents, as synonyms.
  • The term Mormon was used about 1869 in Samara oblast to describe hybrid Russian sectarians influenced by God's People (Luidi Bozhe, khlysty) who practiced polygamy. The term Molokan was used to generally label nearby sectarians, hence molokan-mormoni.
  • During immigration to North America, most reporters were confused about labeling Spiritual Christians. In Old Russia, the term kvakeri (Quakers) was used to describe all sectarians because they were suspected of being infected by European Quakers, Protestants. The term “Russian Quakers” was used in the press to announce the arrival of each non-Orthodox group from Russia — Mennonity (1880s), Dukhobortsy (1899); and in 1904 Molokane, Pryguny, and Subbotniki. Sometimes the Spiritual Christians were mislabeled — Pryguny called Dukhhobortsy, Doukhobors called Molokans or Dunkers, Subbotniki called Molokans, Molokans called Old Believers, etc.
  • The two most widespread and long-term errors were first primarily spread by newspapers, then adopted by the zealous faiths as semantic camouflage:
    • calling “Sons of Freedom” by the group they left — Dukhobortsy;
    • calling Pryguny and Dukhizhizniki Molokans, because that label had a more popular and respected history.
  • During immigration, agents, mainly Demens, presented all Spiritual Christians in Los Angeles as Molokane, because:
    • the first group to arrive, or planning to arrive, may have been wealthy Molokane, but followed by many poor Pryguny, Maksimisty; and other sects;
    • Tolstoy's petition letters, published world-wide, listed Molokane not Pryguny nor other sectarians;
    • to differentiate them from American “Holy Jumpers” who were hated in California; and,
    • to differentiate them from a protesting faction dissenting from Dukhobortsy who were also trying to come to California from Canada.
  • At least 10 land agents are identified in the press as representing the "Molokans." The immigrants were a hot commodity to get out of the overcrowded slums, to sell land to, and for cheap White labor.
  • In January 1905 during immigration, The Los Angeles Times explains 3 labels — they are known as the “Molokane,” “They are sometimes spoken of as “Russian Quakers.” Their proper designation is the “Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians” — and they eat kosher but are “not Jews.” Afterward, newspapers mixed the labels and spellings for Pryguny (Prigooni, Priguni, Prugoni, Jumpers, Holy Jumpers, ...) and Molokane (see transliterations above), often in the same article; and in books.
  • In Los Angeles the term Pryguny was typically used in the media for Maksimisty and Sionisty to distinguish the most noisy zealous jumpers from the quieter more civil Spiritual Christians trying to integrate.(19)
  • On 20 February 1906, The Honolulu Evening Bulletin reported immigration planning concerns: “Don't Want To Mix Molokans Of Different Religions At Kapaa.” The reporters figured out that the "Molokans" presented in Hawaii were not a single religious group; they were several religions. No one reported which were the real Molokane? A week later, their host plantation owner Spalding mistakenly said they were Hungarians. In Hawaii, Pryguny and Molokane held separate prayer services, and 3 conflicting leaders were mentioned. The Hawaiian papers never reported much detail about these different religions or sects, but did say that some were "religious fanatics, and some "jumped."
  • On 21 April 1907, a long article in the Los Angeles Herald reported the "Milk Drinkers" or Molokanes" are not like the "Holly Jumpers," and Fillip N. (sic) Shubin says they believe their leader Maxim Rudomedkin (sic) will return from the dead "...and lead them to the promised land, and for this reason the local leaders of the colony, which now numbers 2000, cannot decide on an offer of land made them, as they have recently received word from Russia that a prophet has had a vision that this leader will soon return to them, although he would now be over 150 years old." Some Maksimisty (not Molokane) believe in the resurrection of Maksim G. Rudomyotkin.
  • Spiritual Christian conscientious objectors changed their identity each generation:
    • In 1917, during WWI, a notarized resolution and petition listed 259 “Russian Sectarians, Spiritual Christians - Jumpers” in Los Angeles who registered as required by law for the draft.
    • In 1941, the next generation in Los Angeles changed their official label to “Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian Jumpers” and “Molokan” or “Molochan” in short.
    • By 2000, Dukhizhizniki are only self-presented with the single term “Molokan” on the former "The Molokan C.O. and the Molokan Library Web Site" (, taken offline 2012) listed by the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, and in nearly all news articles and obituaries posted by the diaspora.
  • In 1917 while in jail in Arizona protesting draft registration, their translator John Kulikoff argued with a reporter that they are “Holy-Jumpers” not “Molokans,” but the press did not learn.
  • In November 1917, author/activist/screen writer Upton Sinclair published The Profits of Religion: An Essay in Economic Interpretation, with a chapter about Holy Rolling and Holy Jumpers. He just moved to Monrovia, California, and was famous for his 1906 expose of immigrant exploitation, The Jungle, which shocked the public and changed food laws. In California he ran for U.S. Representative (1920), U.S. Senate (1922) and California Governor (1932). In 1923 he was arrested in San Pedro for reading the U.S. Bill of Rights at a public rally.
  • In 1918, University of Southern California (U.S.C.) graduate student Lillian Sokoloff, a Home Teacher at Utah Street School, estimated by survey that 94% of non-Orthodox faiths from Russian (Spiritual Christians, sectarians) in Los Angeles were Pryguny, a statistic ignored to this day, and by every scholar who cited her paper.
  • Though Pauline Young's 1932 book is clearly about Pryguny by title (English and Russian), she intentionally changed the name of the religion, and censored and omitted many events, probably to present them as potentially good American citizens, not to be deported. Young uses the term “Molokan” 890 times, while quoting from 24 pages of the Dukh i zhizn', occasionally stating they call themselves Pryguny. Even though she cites Sokoloff (1918) and Speek (1921), the classification terms in these reports are ignored. Young failed to recognized that Pryguny changed their faith to Dukhizhiznik during the course of her research. After her book was published, Young testified to the U.S. immigration service that ethnic Molokans will make good citizens.(cite)
  • The original documented American label «Братскiй Союзъ Духовныхъ Прыгуновъ» (Bratskii Suiz Dukhhovnykh Prygunov : Fraternal Union of Spiritual Jumpers) was abandoned in favor of labels including the words Христиан (Khristian : Christian) and Молокан (Molokan). Many variations appeared, all shortened to the Russian term Molokan, rather than the English term "Milk-drinker," a form of code-switching.
  • During World War II, more than 740 “Russian Molokans” enlisted in the military, though the minority of about 172 (23%) were Molokane from San Francisco, 77% were Pryguny and Dukhizhizniki. Compare to 76 recorded for Civilian Pubic Service, of which only 1 was Molokan from San Francisco. 13 were CO absolutists who chose jail, 1 was Molokan, but 3 of those later enlisted, leaving 10 absolutists total. In the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, only one, Pete A. Wren, is shown as “Young Russian Christian Spiritual Jumpers [Molokan]”.
    • The 76 professed COs did not pay half of their camp fees. To avoid jail, they cheated and scammed the National Service Board of Conscientious Objectors. (Deadbeat faith, unpaid debt : $17,024)
  • In 1957, Nick Allen Klubnikin appealed his draft status in the U.S. 9th District Court of Appeals as a “member of a sect called Molokan Spiritual Jumpers” (227 F.2d 87 (1955), Case No. 14628)
  • On September 25, 2001, the U.S. Selective Service System received a letter from a Los Angeles Dukhizhiznik asking to be recognized as “Russian Molokan Christian Spiritual Jumpers” (page 13), which is the only single use of the term “Jumpers” in “The Young Molokan and Military Service,” compared to use of “Molokan” 41 times. (Letter taken off-line in 2012)
  • In 1964, The Los Angeles Times reported a 6-word description, “Russian Molokan Christian Holy Spiritual Jumpers” called “Molokans” moving to Australia. 2,000 prayed at the dock for the 32 who left.
  • In Berokoff's 1969 book Molokans in America the title and text incorrectly state "Molokan(s)" 435 times, and he scrambles the labels — Brotherhood, Spiritual Christian, Prygun, Jumper, Dukhovnye, Postoyannie, etc. Only once at the end (page 203) when quizzed by a Russian professor about the difference between Molokans in Los Angeles and San Francisco, does Berokoff clarify: "7. The title of our church body in Russian is: Dukhovnaye Christiani Pryguny." Actually his faith was Dukhizhiznik.
  • In 1998, Los Angeles Dukhizhiznik presbyter (presviter) George Samarin, great-grandson of I.G. Samarin, and brother of Dr. William Samarin, questioned an article published in Christian History: ”... how was it possible for others to be 'the first' to speak in tongues in Los Angeles in 1906?“ Though Samarin had a good library of Spiritual Christian history, he apparently believed his “Molokan faith” was so unique that only they could have delivered the Holy Spirit to America.
  • Sect has a bad connotation in English. Most do not know the historic Russian religious term sektanti, (sectarian) simply means “an ethnic Russian, who is not Orthodox,” or a “heretic” to the Orthodox Church.
  • The short label Molokane (milk-drinkers, молокане) is unique and respectable in America when translated, unlike Pryguny, and is easier to pronounce, and more polite (less harsh) to say in public in the early 1900s. It is not accurate when referring to Dukhizhizniki, a completely different faith.
  • No descriptive term for Dukhizhizniki existed, or was wanted until a world directory was proposed. Diaspora Dukhizhizniki believe they must hide their faith, though it was partially described many times in the literature and in the courts. Though some devout Maksimisty are not afraid to self-identify among Spiritual Christians, they rarely use or explain that term (Maksimist) with outsiders (ne nashi) and non-believers.
  • Western scholars, not entirely familiar with Eastern Orthodox religious history, extrapolate what they understand about the Catholic-Protestant split upon the Russian Orthodox-sectarian split, as Orthodox-Protestant, ignoring major difference between Russian Spiritual Christians and European Protestants. See: Nielsen, Donald A. Sects, Churches and Economic Transformations in Russia and Western Europe, International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Summer, 1989), pages 493-522.
  • Relatively little was published in English about Spiritual Christians compared to Protestants, though the Eastern Protestantism is about as diverse as Western Protestantism. More scholarly articles are appearing due to the recent efforts of a post-perestroika generation of scholars — Drs. Breyfogle, Clay, Inikova, Nikitina, Petrov (Molokan), Werth, Zhuk and others.
  • The nationalistic, ethnocentric Russian news still confuses and scrambles the Orthodox sektanty within the sektanty, with foreign faiths, and with Orthodox heretic Staroobryady.

10. Web sites by and about Spiritual Christians

Reader beware! Many websites, most temporary, were started in the United States by Dukhizhizniki falsely identified as Molokane. Research about Spiritual Christians on the Internet is in-progress.

Authentic Spiritual Christian Molokan information is extensively posted on 4 websites in Russia and this one ( in the U.S.:
  • Духовные христиане-молокане ( — "Spiritual Christian Molokans" was launched in 1997 from Tambov city by Sergei Petrov, whose ancestors lived there. Assisted by Viktor Tikunov (presviter Svobodka, Tula) and others, Petrov has been scanning and posting every text and audio file he can get for this extensive project in-progress. Find 100s of original journals, articles (back to 1906), books (back to 1805), audio songs and sermons from around the world, information about other Spiritual Christian faiths, references and a guestbook — the most extensive Molokan library online.

  • Духовные христиане-молокане ( (offline 6 months, Dec. 2012- Jul. 2013) — Launched in 2007, this is the official Molokan youth website of the international organization Союз духовных христиан — молокан (СДХМ) (Union of Spiritual Christian Molokans — USCM), Kochubeevskoe, Stavropol' province, Russian Federation. Registration required for accessing forum and extensive library of documents. Indexing their journals for English readers is in progress at Vest' (News).

  • По Следам Молоканства ( — "In the footsteps of Molokanism" was launched in September 2007 from Moscow by Viktor Tikunov, presviter Sloboka sobraniya, Tula oblast. His news blog covers topics about the history of Spiritual Christians, primarily Molokane, some on Dukhobortsy, songs, books, and spiritual explanations.

  • Генеалогия молокан (молокане.рф) — "Molokan Genealogy" was launched in April 2011 by a team led by German Strelnikov (Facebook). How to translate. On February 3, 2009, he started a continuing extensive thread on Генеалогический форум ВГД (The genealogy forum: "All Russia Family Tree") : Молоканство : история, переселения, переписи, съезды и другое (Molokanism : history, migration, census, conventions, and more). He also started or posted on at least 9 other topics which I listed on Spiritual Christian Genealogy Resources.

Spiritual Christian Dukhizhizniki
  • (in Russian) — This mislabeled "Molokan" domain name is the only Russian-language web site specifically about and for Dukhizhizniki, M.G Rudomyotkin, and their precursor Prygun and Khlyst faiths. Launched in 200_ by Vasili Vasilich Konovalov, Pyatigorsk, Stavropol'skii krai, Russian Federation. V.V. Konovalov is a second-cousin to me, about 50 years old, and admires the late Arizona Dukhizhiznik prophet Wm.Wm. Prohoroff. He never attended Molokan services, but did attend Prygyn meetings in Pyatigorsk, where I first met him and his father in 1992, and his family at their Dukhizhiznik home meetings where they only pray with a Dukh i zhizn' on the table, no Bible. After he wed, he only attends Dukhizhiznik meetings in the south Stavropol area. He is a friend of Pyotr and Olya Shubin who moved to Australia, from Russia. He presents material and photos he gathered on a trip to visit Dukhizhizniki in Armenia.

    Since 2007, the site has been funded and aided by diaspora Dukhizhizniki in Queensland province, Australia, with some input from U.S. Dukhizhizniki who fund him as their research agent. The site sells and trades copies of documents and videos about Rudomyotkin, Pryguny and Khlysty, with general opinions on historic accuracy and value from a Dukhizhiznik perspective. Comments include : "not a researcher, lack objectivity, romantic, naive, nothing special, nothing concrete, unflattering, Soviet ideology, gossip, myths, not interesting, mediocre, difficult to digest, dumped into a pile, almost impossible, perverted, miserable, terrible, not even close, far from truth, anti-sectarian, dirt, solid dirt, complete rip-off, nothing original, psychological drama," etc. The comments are mainly critical of official Russian documentation, favoring "independent evaluation" and not those which deviate from how some want their Dukhizhiznik history to be gloriously written.

  • The Molokan Network ( — A monitored bulletin board, discussion group launched by Jeremy Lediaev, and friends, from the Kerman area, Central California. Contains years of youth social and religious threads about diaspora Dukhizhiznik events and issues. Most content is public, registrations is required to post. Now administered from Los Angeles by Tim Slavin.

  • Molokan Underground ( — A monitored bulletin board, discussion group administered by Dukhizhiznik youth in East Los Angeles County, California. Registration is more limited than the Molokan Network, allowing only people known to the administrators to be practiscing Dukhizhizniki. Some content is public, screened registration is required to post. As of January 18, 2013 : "Our members have made a total of 40,898 posts in 18,698 threads.We currently have 350 members registered."

  • Facebook.: Molokan Outfits

  • Molokans Northwest ( — Launched in February 2015 representing 3 of 5-6 Dukhizhiznik unidentified congregations in Oregon. Contact names listed : James M. Berokoff , Gabriel A. Federoff, George G. Sessoyeff, and John G. Sessoyeff. Their actual faiths are reveled by holy days. This is the first website to represent Dukhizhiznik congregations, though limited.(7)

  • (In-progress)
More about Dukhizhiznik websites ... (in-progress) ...

Spiritual Christian Dukhobory (spirit-wrestlers) — A comprehensive list of 40+ Doukhobor-created web sites with links to 100+ related web sites is maintained by attorney, genealogist, historian Jonathan Kalmakoff, founder of the "Doukhobor Genealogy Website." Since before Dukhobortsy arrived, the Canadian press has persistently mislabeled all Spiritual Christian groups in Canada with the Doukhobor or other false labels, even non-Russian groups, sometimes calling them Molokans. These mistakes originating in Canada have been repeated around the world.

11. Classification


Molokane, Pryguny, and Dukhizhizniki can easily be differentiated by their use of songs for worship. All melodies are memorized and sung without instruments.

Molokane sing and read only from the Russian Bible. Diaspora occasionally read from an English Bible for non-Russian-speakers. Molokane do not use a songbook or prayerbook during worship, nor are these books on their altar table (престол : prestol). Molokane may sing borrowed songs after prayer service on occasion, but most typically during weddings, funerals, and meals. A notated songbook was composed in the Far East in the early 1900s by a talented Molokan sent to study musical notation in Europe, but never widely used.

Pryguny borrowed songs from neighboring faiths and adapted folk songs for spiritual jumping and spiritual whirling and dancing. Pryguny share many traits with Methodist Jumpers organized in Wales in the mid-1700s — borrowing pagan folk songs, loud singing, raising hands, spiritual dancing and jumping — similar to some charismatic Pentecostals. Charismatic Christianity appears to have been transmitted from Europe to Spiritual Christians by German sectarians resettled in South Ukraine in the early 1800s and earlier by various Europeans who worked in Russia. About 2005, the first exclusively Prygun songbook and prayer book were published in Stavropol'skii krai, Russian Federation, with no Dukhizhiznik songs. Song 181 (Sionskii pessennik, Los Angeles) describes the Prygun holidays.

Dukhizhizniki are transformed Pryguny who sing and read from many books: the Russian Bible with Apocrypha, Dukh i zhizn' (intended to replace/augment the New Testament) and their own prayer books and song books. They are the only family of faiths in the world which uses the Kniga solnste, dukh i zhizn'. They display much more jumping, prophesy, and shout-singing than their predecessor Pryguny. Their song books evolved through several editions which collectively show over 1200 songs and verses, retaining many songs from Molokane and Pryguny, many borrowed while in Russia from German Protestants, some composed in America and Australia with Western folk melodies. Though the published collection is large, the repertoire actively sung is about one-fourth, with most congregations unable to sing more than 100 songs, less than 8% of the published repertoire. Many congregations in the F.S.U. prefer songs composed by diaspora Dukhizhizniki, especially fast songs with mystical words and new Western Gospel melodies conducive to jumping.

These 3 Spiritual Christian groups are easily identified by their characteristic liturgies used during prayer-worship services.

Dukh i zhizn' Christ's God's Yes






1. All Maksimisty are Dukhizhizniki, but not all Dukhizhizniki are Maksimisty.
Most adapted from Russian folk songs and borrowed from German Protestants.
3. Not during service, sometimes afterward, mostly during meals at weddings, funerals, child dedication, holidays.
4. Open canon, a sacred text that can be modified by continuous revelation.
About 200 prophets since 1900, but only 4 major prophets in their Dukh i zhizn' (holy book). Each congregation has 1 or more prophets. Over 100 prophesies are recorded around the world in secret notebooks shared with the most trusted networks of members.

Within each faith group the styles and melodies vary by geographic territory due to generations of isolation among congregations. For example, Molokane in Central Russia (Tambov) use less polyphonic protyazhnaya (протяжная : long-drawn-out) songs than in the Caucasus. Those in Arzerbaijan adapted sounds more similar to Muslem chants than Old Russian folksongs heard in Tambov. In the US, Dukhizhiznik melodies for the same song can differ between Los Angeles County and Central California. When about 50 families of Dukhizhizniki were imported from Armenia to Australia and the U.S.A. after perestoika, their songs and styles clashed so much that the Armenians formed their own congregation in Australia, and in the U.S.A. many cannot sing with them.


Molokane, Pryguny, and Dukhizhizniki can most easily be differentiated by their religious holidays.

2010-2020 Spiritual Christian Molokan Holiday Calendar in Russian (left) and English. (From Vest', 2009 Vol. 6, page 4)
Click to ENLARGE Click to ENLARGE

Click for MOREA. Molokane10-11 holidays depending on congregation. The original religion of Dukhhovnye khristiane-molokane (Russian for: Spiritual Christian Molokans, Духовные христиане-молокане) as organized by Simeon Uklein (many believe the religion preceded him), which separated from Ikonoborsty (image-wrestlers, iconoclasts) in the 1760s (some relabeled Dukhobortsy, “spirit-wrestlers”, in 1785).

Molokane were named for their heresy of drinking milk during the Great Fast (Lent) and splitting from the Orthodox faith. Though the Church created the label as an insult, these Spiritual Christians embraced it with their own definition from the Bible (1 Peter 2:2).

Molokane in Kars Oblast (now Turkey) fasted and held services for three days before each holiday — Thursday, Friday, Saturday — making each holiday a four-day event, with a feast on Sunday. The practce was continued by those who returned to Russia in the 1920s, and continues today. The scope of this three-day holiday-fast among all Molokane in all regions today is not yet known.

The only international Molokan organization is the Souiz dukhovnykh khristiane—molokan (Russian for “Union of Spiritual Christian Molokans” (USCM), Союз духовных христиан—молокан (СДХМ), website:, founded in Moscow in 1990, and transferred about 1994 to Kochubeevskoe, Stavropol' territory (krai), Russian Federation, after a plea to relocate to the Northern Caucasus to serve the thousands of refugees from the Caucasus. Today many still object to the transfer because to be effective in Russia a “Center” must be in Moscow. In 2007, the SDKM had about 45 dues-paying member congregations in the Russian Federation, and one in San Francisco, California — First Russian Christian Molokan Church : Molokanskii molitvanyi dom (Russian: Molokan prayer house/hall, Молоканcкий молитваный дом). People of all faiths are welcome to attend.

American Molokane celebrate 8 holidays. Molokane welcome visitors, photography, and conversion; have open communion; and celebrated 200 years of religious freedom in 2005. Molokane differ somewhat between congregations but agree they are all one unified religion, and rarely split over liturgy. One “Old-Constant” congregation (Russian: staro-postoyannie, старопостоянние) still uses the Old Slavonic Bible and language for reading and singing; and claims the others have fallen away from their original Old Russian religious language. Molokane are somewhat critical, yet tolerant of Pryguny and Dukhizhizniki for adapting non-Biblical versed songs during their services borrowed from other faiths. Molokane have little contact with the zealous and contradictory prophesies of the Dukhizhizniki who use the label Molokan for themselves while avoiding, often condemning, authentic Molokane. About 224 congregations counted world-wide since 1950.
  • Sukhie Baptisty — Russian for “Dry Baptists,” Сухие Баптисты. Molokane who somewhat merged with the All-Russian Union of Evangelical Christians (ARUEC), organized by Ivan Prokhanov, which split from the Russian Baptist Union, but refused water baptism, preferring their traditional baptism by the Holy Spirit. It is estimated that about half of the early ARUEC members were of Molokan descent, like Prokhanov's parents. Many were called “dry-Baptists” by relatives and friends. At least one congregation counted in 2007, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, but more exist.

  • Detei Khrista — Russian for “Children of Christ”, Детей Христа; also called Mokrye Molokane (Russian for “Wet Molokans,” Мокрые Молокане.) A congregation which split from the Mikhailovsk (Shpakovskii) congregation, Stavropol' territory, Russian Federation, in the early 2000s. Their service is nearly identical to Molokan, but added water Baptism for any age, hence the nickname “wet Molokans” by relatives and friends. The founding presviter Ivan.V. Schetinkin, is brother of the SDKM senior presviter, Timofei Vasilich. One congregation counted in 2007, Mikhailovsk (Shpakovskii region), Stavropol territory, Russian Federation (R.F.).

  • Molokan-Adventisty, SubbotnikiMolokane and Pryguny converted by traveling German Adventist missionaries in 1906, who resided in and near the village of Russkie-Borisy village, now Azerbaijan. They became a hybrid by abandoning the Molokan holidays to exclusively celebrate the Old Testament holidays. After conversion many migrated to Yaroslavskaya village Krasnodarskii krai during Collectivization, and after 2000 to the U.S.A. Beginning in 2001, over 200 who eventually migrated to the Seattle, Washington, area founded the Центр духовного просвещения (Russian Center for Spiritual Enrichment of S.D.A.) in Bellevue, Washington. Services are in Russian. Annual youth festivals have been held since 2008 hosting Russian-speaking youth of all faiths. 4 meeting sites, counted in 2011 — 3 for regular services near Seattle, Washington U.S.A., plus a site for Torah Study for Russian Jews and guests at sundown on Fridays.

B. Pryguny, Dukhovnye 10 holidays. Pryguny is Russian for “Jumpers” or “Leapers.” The full Russian label is dukhovnye khristiane-pryguny, духовные христиане-прыгуны, Spiritual Christian Jumpers. Today in Russia most call those in the same congregation who do not jump — dukhovnye (Russian for Spirituals, духовные), and those who jump — pryguny. In this taxonomy, the term Pryguny is used to categorically distinguish these congregations from Molokane and Dukhizhizniki. Historically, other descriptive terms were used, translated as Bouncers, Dancers, Prancers, Noisy-nose-breathers, Molokan-Whips, etc.

Pryguny are a hybrid, with origins and membership from Molokane, German Anabaptists, subbotniki (Sabbatarians : субботники), Russian Orthodox, Lyudi bozhii (People of God : Люди Божий), Novyi izrail' (New Israel : Новый Израйль), Skoptsy (Castrates : Скопцы), Shaloputy (Шалопуты), and other sectarians. (Zhuk, Sergei I. Russia's Lost Reformation: Peasants, Millennialism, and Radical Sects in Southern Russia and Ukraine, 1830-1917. (2004) page 126.)

Before the label “prygun,”these Spiritual Christians belittled original Molokane by saying we are dukhovnye and they are postoyannie (Russian : постоянние, constant, steadfast, unchanged, original, genuine, authentic). This term is either used as an insult by non-Molokan faiths who want the Molokan label, or it is converted semantically as a defensive modifier by Molokane to clarify that their faith is the "unchanged original.'

In all the world, only in Iutsa town, Stavropol' territory (krai), does a Molokan assembly hall display a sign using the word postoyannie. The sign was placed by my wife's grandfather, Vasili Antonovich Serguiev, who immigrated from Turkey to Rostov in the 1920s, then to Stavropol in the 1950s and became presviter. Up to that time the Iutsa Molokane had no identity conflict with a smaller congregation of Pryguny who met in a house. In the 1960s large numbers of Dukhizhizniki, who falsely called themselves Molokane, arrived from Turkey and were resettled in neighboring towns, and one Prygun presbyter, originally from Tbilisi, which divided the Prygun congregation. To differentiate the 2 Prygun congregations from the Molokan in Iutsa, and from all the Dukhizhizniki in neighboring towns, this sign was probably placed in the 1960s (to be determined). In American marketing lingo, the sign announces; "famous original formula, accept no substitutes."

After 1992, visiting Dukhizhiznik women from California (who arrived in Moscow with the Heritage Club) were seeking their relatives, which they called "our people," found the Prygun congregations in Iutsa, and gave them each a huge donation, enough to build and expand their prayer halls. The women missed Prygun congregations in other towns and had not close Dukhizhiznik relatives in Russia.

I have visited nearly all congregations in Russia, and only found one other sign, on the main assembly in Kochubeevskoe, which identifies it as a Molokan prayer hall. (Photos of signs to be posted.)

Molokane-Subbotniki, who refused to worship on Sunday, were labeled “Saturday Molokans” in the Russian Empire Census of 1897, while the original believers remained “Sunday Molokans” (voskerseniki : воскресеники). Some Sunday Molokans, who in 1817 begin migrating to Tavria guberniia (now South Ukraine), adapted features from other Russian Spiritual Chirstians and from German Protestants (Russians' Secret) — a focus on the Apocalypse, prophesy, songs and mind altering spiritual acts like fasting (postnichestvo : постничество), ecstatic dances (radenie : радение), jumping, skipping, walking in the spirit / in joy (khozhdenie v dukhe : хожденин в духе), and actions (deistviia : действия).

The label pryguny first appeared in Russian print about 1854 (according to Dr. Breyfogle), though earlier reports described jumping, dancing, leaping, and rapid breathing. Many Saturday Molokane, mostly Subbotniki, in the Former Soviet Union merged with Adventists, and no longer use the label Molokan, yet associate with Molokan and Prygun friends and relatives. The 1897 Russian census counted Pryguny separate from Molokane in Transcaucasia; and we know they celebrate different holidays

Prygun Holiday Calendars

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The 1874 hand-drawn calendar (above left) shows the Prygun holidays. This historic calendar was photographed in 1992 at the The State Museum of the History of Religion, St. Petersburg, Russia, by Molokan presbyter Edward J. Samarin, Freemont CA. The 2000-2009 calendar (above right) is from the Inozemstvo Dukhovnye congregation, Stavropol territory, RF; and is followed by all Prygun congregations.

Pryguny divide their holidays into “God's holidays” and “Christ's holidays” (Russian: Prazdniki Gospodni i Khristovy, Праздники Господни и Христовы). Christ's holidays were retained from their Molokan origin from acceptable Orthodox holidays. God's holidays were probably added by Subbotniki who joined Pryguny and insisted on adding their own Old Testament holidays.

Song 181 of the American Dukhizhiznik Songbook of Zion (Sionzkii pesennik : Сионский песенник) documents these Prygun holidays. This diaspora songbook appears in about 10 progressive versions, after the second version each new book listed lyrics primarily composed and sung by the diaspora Dukhizhizniki, but deleting very few as the versions grew. Most lyrics have fallen from common use. The lower numbered songs are the oldest, hence this was definitely a Prygun song.

Песнь 181 Song 181

Верою Бога величаем,
    Праздники годовые почитаем.
Богом нашим на горе даны,
    Моисеем с Синая переданы.
We glorify God by faith,
    Honoring the annual Holidays.
On the mountain they were given by our God,    To
    Moses transferred from Sinai.

Пять слов он заключил,
    Народу Божию поручил.
Господь сильней десницей,
    Утвердил в лето три седмицы.
Five words he concluded,
    Designated them to God's people.
And God with a strong hand,
    Approved three weeks in the summer.

Первая Пасха святая,
    Агнцем в законе взятая.
Вторая Пятидесятница Богом дана,
    Святой Дух нам подала.
The first one is holy Easter [Paskha],
    A sacrifice by Law (OT*) is taken.
The second given by God is Pentecost,
    It gave us the Holy Spirit.

Третья Скинопигия** [кущей] святая,
    Народу Божию датая.
Три седмицы почитаем,
    Тем мы Бога величаем;
The third is the holy Feast of Tabernacles [Kushchei],
    Given to God's people.
For three weeks we worship,
    That's how we glorify God;

Захария дождем благословляет,
    Славою Божию награждает;
День святой очищенье,
    Сотворим душам посещенье.
Zechariah gave blessing with rain,
    Rewarding the words of God;
The Holy Day of Atonement,
    Lets us make the soul [Holy Spirit] visit.

Пять праздников закон дал,
    Еще пять Христос предал:
Все мы десять почитаем,
    Тем мы Троицу величаем;
Five Holidays were given by the Law (OT, God's)
    Five more were given by Christ:
We honor all ten
    And we celebrate Pentecost [Troitsa];

Молитвы — жертвы приносим,
    У Бога благословенья просим;
Он нас не оставит,
    Во всем на истину наставит.
We brought prayers and sacrifices (offerings),
    We ask for God's blessing;
He will not leave us,
    And guide us to the righteous path.
Праздники Богу жертвы — хвала,
    Писание нам силу подала.
Богу слава и держава,
    Во веки веков. Аминь.
God's holidays are praised with offerings
    The Scriptures gave us strength.
God is the glory and power,
    Unto the ages of ages. Amen.
   * OT : Old Testament, Law of Moses
** Скинопигия (Greek: σκηνοπηγία = skenopegia) : "the pitching of the tent" (John 7:2)

Several Dukhovnye-Prygun congregations migrated to America, but by the 1950s were forced, along with Molokane and the United Molokan Christian Association (U.M.C.A., a Sunday school and youth social center), to either join a Dukhizhiznik faith group, join the 2 Molokan congregations (San Francisco, or Sheridan), or leave to other faiths. By 2007, as many as 90% appeared to have left the Prygun faith in the diaspora. In the Former Soviet Union, several Dukhovnye-Prygun congregations are members of the registered U.S.C.M. (to gain the privilege of official recognition) and have good relations with Molokane. Most welcome visitors, photography, conversion, but mostly retain closed communion. About 30 Pryguny congregations counted world-wide since 1950.
  • Subbotniki-Molokane — See for extensive history and maps. Original Subbotniki did not call themselves Dukhovnye Khristiane, but many Dukhovnye Khristiane (Spiritual Christians) merged with Subbotniki and chose Saturday for their sabbath, and Subbotniki joined Molokane by intermarriage. Many were counted “Saturday Molokans” (subbotniki-molokane) in the Russian Empire Census of 1897. Many Subbotniki have migrated to the Portland, Oregon, area, whose youth affiliate with the Molokan-Adventisty youth in Washington. A large group emerged about 1920 in Russki Borisi village, Azerbaijan, led by presviter Rybkin, whose congregation split, half remaining Dukhovnye-Prygun, the other half Subbotnik, performing identical services on different days, but joining for holidays. Some descendants of this Subbotnik congregation converted to Adventist upon resettlement in Russia where they have a meeting hall in the Kapelnitsa suburb, Inozemtsvo, Stavropol province, RF. 2 congregations, Russia (Stavropol province), U.S.A. (Portland).

  • Young Russian Christian Association (YRCA), YRCA-ers, “Jack Greeners” — Assimilated(19) American descendants of Spiritual Christians in Los Angeles who in their youth were members of the YRCA clubhouse. Many maintain affiliation with each other. It began as a "home mission" in Boyle Heights sponsored by 3 women missionaries to serve the immigrant poor. Older kids got Bible lessons, younger ones learned to read and speak English, like a pre-school. In the second year, the women solicited student volunteers from the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA) to help teach. Mostly local Russian youth attended events held nearly everyday of the week, and at different times, for different ages. Soon the Russians named and claimed the organization as their Young Christian Association, then inserted "Russian" into the title. The most dedicated of the volunteers, Jack Ted Green, first taught Bible class on Tuesday night, then focused most of his missionary work on these urban youth. After he graduated college, his living expenses were donated mainly by his Grace Brethren Church, family and friends, so he could minister to these ghetto kids. The growing YRCA clubhouse moved to occupy the vacated dilapidated wooden Buchenak Dukhizhiznik meeting hall in the Flats, and later bought a vacated American church in East L.A. Weekly attendance grew to over 200 regulars in 20 years with social events, camps, clubs, sports, library, donations to immigrants from Russia in Mexico, singing on local radio and Brethren churches, counseling and the Anchor newsletter. At their peak, nearly 20,000 visitors came during the year. In the early 1940s, when several of the YRCA-ers enrolled in BIOLA (tuition free), the struggling UMCA invited them to teach Sunday school, which they did in English. In 20 years the YRCA-ers boosted the UMCA to become the 3rd largest Sunday school in California and 10th in the nation. Zealot Dukhizhizniki in Los Angeles believed the YRCA competed with their “Young Church” (molodoe sobranie), nicknamed Chulok sobranie, while others supported their wholesome activities. In the 1960s the Chuloshniki pushed their heretic "Jack Greeners" out of the UMCA and the YRCA East LA building was sold, with funds donated to member missionary Dave C. Shinen for his work in Alaska. Some members reorganized as GIVE, to support missionaries in the U.S. of Dukhizhiznik descent. In the 1970s a YRCA Montebello Community Church was incorporated, but failed after 4 leaders/ministers were tried. In 1979 many YRCA-ers formed and joined a new businessmen social organization, The Heritage Club. Many maintain membership in Dukhizhiznik congregations, but attend when mandatory, like a family funeral or kitchen duty. In 2002 the Heritage Club secretly paid a $600,000 bribe using charity donations to silence sensational news about their club. History in-progress. One clubhouse dissolved in 1960s, East Los Angeles, California U.S.A., somewhat reemerged as the Heritage Club.

  • Re-Formed — 6 holidays. Former Dukhizhizniki who founded a new congregaton in Oregon in the 1970s. Attacked for abandoning the ritual book Dukh i zhizn', using English translated services and songs (Russian is not banned), yet maintain Dukhizhizniki holidays plus Rozhestvo (Birth of Christ, Christmas). The existence of this congregation divided American Dukhizhizniki into praises and scorners. Newsletter Bessednik (discontinued), scorned as the Bestidnik ("without shame") and "enchilada church" (for once serving Mexican food) by zealous Dukhizhizniki. Website registered May 25, 2010 (offline mid-2012). Most welcome visitors, photography, conversion, and are the first congregation of Pryguny to host a web site, temporarily. One congregation counted in 2007, Woodburn, Oregon, USA.

3. Dukhizhizniki5-6 holidays. Dukhizhizniki is a Russian term for “people who use the book Dukh i zhizn',” or "Spirit-and-Lifers." They are descendants of various zealous Spiritual Christian faiths who transformed to new faiths using the holy ritual book Dukh i zhizn' (short for Book of the Sun, Spirit and Life; Kniga solntse, dukh i zhizn'; Книга солнце, дух и жизнь).

Dukhizhizniki evolved from a mixture of non-Molokan Spiritual Christian congregations (Prygun, Sionist, Klubnikinist, Maksimisty, Novyi israil, etc.) mainly from what is now Central Armenia, among followers of the Prygun presviter Maksim G. Rudomyotkin, also called Maksimisty, who instructed them to abandon half of their Prygun holidays — the holidays shared with Molokane (Christ's holidays) — because they were adapted from Orthodoxy, to keep only the Old Testament holidays (God's holidays) adapted from Subbotniki, and to shun Molokane and Subbotniki — forming a new sect. Followers of prophet Efim G. Klubnikin joined in Los Angeles along with other zealous faiths.

Dukhizhizniki solidified after 1928 when these diverse congregations in the U.S. allowed the book Dukh i zhizn' to be placed on their their altar tables (prestol), as a Third Testament to the Bible, and used it for worship and rituals. The editors of the 1928 edition signed as Братскiй Союзъ Духовныхъ Прыгуновъ (Bratskii Soiuz Dukhovykh Prygunov : Fraternal Union of Spiritual Jumpers), but in the introductory pages the misnomer Molokan is used. The book was undoubtedly a spiritual victory by the Maksimisty to have their prophet dominate the book with 66% of the pages, and impose their rituals on all congregations.

Some called themselves “Zionists” and/or “New Israel”, though they did not share communion with New Israel nor did they migrate to Palestine as did many Subbotniki. Molokane and Pryguny commonly call them Maksimisty (Russian for: “followers of Maksim G. Rudomyotkin”, maksimisty, максимисты), but not all Dukhizhizniki are Maksimisty. Rudomyotkin was registered in a Suzdal monastery as a prygun, where his death was documented by Nikolai Ilyin in 1877, yet disputed by some followers who believe he rose to heaven like Jesus Christ.

The precursors to the Dukhizhiznik faith were transported to Los Angeles beginning in 1904, and begun to solidify in 1915 when a few Maksimisty who moved to the state of Arizona published in Los Angeles some of Rudomyotkin's notes in the Russian language in the book: Утренняя звезда (Utrennyaya zvezda : Morning Star), then published a Prayerbook (Russian: Molitvennik, Молитвенникъ), and a songbook. They ignored the prayer books used by Molokane organized after 1906 in San Francisco. In the Former Soviet Union the Dukhizhiznik books are often collectively called obryadniki (обрядники : ritual, ceremony books).

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1928 Russian
1976 English
1983 English

After 7(?) revisions, the final and current version of the Dukh i zhizn' was published in 1928 (758 pages) in Los Angeles by «Братскiй Союзъ Духовныхъ Прыгуновъ» (Bratskii Suiz Dukhhovnykh Prygunov : Fraternal Union of Spiritual Jumpers), not by "Molokans." About 66% of the pages are credited to Rudomyotkin, with debate, plus sections by 3 prophets (Klubnikin, Sokolov, Yesseivich), and a short history by I. G. Samarin. About 60 pages of controversial text previously published was omitted.

Another 60 pages by M.P. Pivovaroff were not included which enraged him such that he published his own prophetic writings, purchased several cases of the new book, and inserted his missing chapter, fabricating a second version in 1928. The book was disputed during every revision and printed version.

The Dukh i zhizn' was placed “by the Holy Spirit” by the Prygun prophet Afanasy T. Beziaev (Bezayeff, Bezaieff), not by a democratic vote of members, on all Prygun altar tables in the U.S., except the Selimsky congregation in Arizona, and the Holy Jumper congregation in San Francisco. The book was allowed in the Guadalupe, Mexico, prayer house as a reference, not on the table. The two Molokan congregations in America (San Freancisco and Sheridan) were not approached or refused the book. Pressure to adopt the "new ritual" of Rudomyotkin took decades.

Before a failed migration back to the base of Mount Ararat in 1939, diaspora elders declared no need to translate their books into English. To continue the Dukhizhiznik faith in America, translations were needed to retain the youth. In 1944 John K. Berokoff in Los Angeles, conlcuded that migration to Russia is unlikely and began to re-publish the Arizona prayerbook translated in 1915 for Americans in Arizona, and his own translations.

In 1947, a 3rd edition was edited and published by molodoe sobranie (the youth assembly), changing pages 747 to 758. (Research in-progress.)

In 1965-66, John Wm. Volkov, while a graduate student in Slavic languages at the University of California Berkeley (U.C.B.), translated the entire book himself with some help from elder Russian Jews and other immigrants regarding mystery words. In the summer of 1966 in Los Angeles, after Wednesday Night assembly, John Volkov, driven by Andrei A. Shubin, arrived at the LA-UMCA after everyone left but 3 board members and me, Andrei Conovaloff. Volkov hand-delivered a typed carbon copy of a sample first section of his translation to LA-UMCA president Paul Lukianov, vice-president Mike Planin, and former president Alex Tolmas, with instructions to publish the book and donate all proceeds to the UMCA general fund. He said they could pass it around to anyone to proofread. That summer I was given a sample copy to take to Arizona elders to proofread, which I delivered to Alex L. Conovaloff. All groups apparently refused and/or were afraid to publish it. The project stagnated for more than a decade.

I met John Volkov several times when he visited my maternal grandmother's house in Boyle Heights. He said that the book title as printed on the cover in 1928 was inverted, and that the proper translated title is Book of the Sun, Spirit and Life, but in the triangular diagram, the words "Spirit and Life" appeared on top. This changed the commonly used short title, as published in 1915, from Дух и жизнь (Dukh i zhizn' ) to Книга солнце, дух и жизнь (Kniga solntse, dukh i zhizn' ).

Volkov was respected by few Dukhizhiznik elders. He was unmarried, college graduate, an alcoholic, and at times homeless. The late presbyter Harry Shubin often bought him to speak at the Wednesday night youth assembly at the UMCA, always drunk. He had no permanent address or phone number that I could find in 1980. He was a friend of my late uncle Andy A. Shubin who told me none of Volkov's relatives knew where he was or if he died. If anyone knows, please reply.

Though very few read Russian, the book was symbolically bought and given as a wedding gift, an icon of their faith. While getting married in 1972, George G. Shubin was told that he was lucky to get one of the last copies from the UMCA inventory. He studied editing and publishing at East Los Angeles Community College and edited the U.M.C.A. newsletter, and volunteered to organize a reprinting. With the help of his buddy John Kornoff, they assisted the elder publisher Paul I. Samarin to reprint the original 1928 edition agian. They added a much needed 8-page index at the end and kept a 1-page insert Samrain added in 1958 to explain the various versions. The 1975 edition has 766 pages, x copies published. Their names did not appear. Credit was given to Samarin.

After this project, G. Shubin voiced a common complaint: Why not an English version? The typical answers were: the meanings would change if translated, Russian was their holy language, and it must be interpreted "in the spirit" in the original form. Daniel H.Shubin heard George's complaint and revealed the existence of the Volkov translation. G. Shubin insisted that it must be printed, and formed a volunteer committee with J. Kornoff and Daniel Shubin to finally produced first English version of the Book of the Sun, Spirit and Life, despite intense objections from zealots. In 1976 all objections dissolved due to competition from Australia.

Independently in 1976, the first complete translation was published in South Australia (2 editions) by James M. Pivovaroff with an untitled red cover and 11 gold stars (photo above). It included the 1928 M.P. Pivovaroff insert. J. Pivovaroff did not use (or know?) about the Volkov translation, and said he consulted Russian-born immigrants in Australia for help with translating and proofreading his translation using language similar to the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. Critics in America who claim that he could not possibly have done it himself, allege that he paid ne nashi (outsiders) to do his translating, and they emphasize the word ne nashi as a pejorative implying it was translated by "pork-eaters" and "non-believers", therefore it is an unclean, non-spiritual book. The existence of a competing book motivated a critical mass of Dukhizhizniki in Los Angeles County to approve the Volkov translation for publication.

D.H.Shubin solicited funds and wanted to publish the complete unedited pre-1928 transcripts, but the majority insisted that only the 1928-edition should be done "as is", page for page, no changes. But changes were made anyway. The Russian versions had about 63 footnotes, very few referring to the Bible; and Pivovaroff's translations had no footnotes. To Christianize the English version, D. Shubin decided that Biblical footnotes should be added, and enlisted at least one assistant to locate words and phrases in the text which could be linked to anything in the Bible, as footnotes. The more references to the Bible the better, to present the English version as coming from the word of God, to counter critics. They added thousands of footnotes, on nearly every page, up to 11 per page. Dr. William J. Samarin examined a few pages and commented that many Biblical references were missed, and some footnotes made no sense. The footnoting was amateur. (Statistical analyses of footnotes in-progress.)

When all footnotes were pasted into the page-by-page Volkov manuscript, G. Shubin and J. Kornoff arranged for typesetting, proofing and publication in 1983, x copies, 768 pages. The 8-page index added in 1975 was reduced to 2 pages and moved to the front, and some of the Klubnikin drawings were changed. All copies became property of the UMCA, which was controlled by Dukhizhizniki.

During the project, G. Shubin had a first chance to study the book, which shocked him and his wife so much that they abandoned the Dukhizhiznik faiths, then moved to Oregon to raise a family, where they joined a congregation for which he became the newsletter editor. Kornoff remained in Los Angeles area, and unfortunately died in 19__. D.H. Shubin expanded his influence by publishing more books and web pages supporting his versions of Dukhizhiznik history, most notable is Guide to the [Book of the Sun,]Spirit and Life with Supplements, 1999, 253 pages.

Only the Russian versions are used by Dukhizhizniki for singing. Occasionally the English versions are read when giving speeches, depending on the congregation, Russian literacy of speaker and guests present. Some claim the Dukh i zhizn' can only be understood in Russian by a few chosen with the gift of the Holy Spirit because many unknown mystical words appear in it. (Research in-progress.)

Diaspora Dukhizhizniki apparently outwardly claimed the religious label Molokan for many reasons, including:
  • to avoid being confused with indigenous American Pentecostal “Holy Jumpers” who were being bullied;
  • to camouflage their embarrassing religion because Pryguny were investigated, reported in the news, and some arrested for illegal activity (bride-selling; not registering births, marriages or deaths; disturbing the peace with loud ecstatic jumping to exhaustion; unusually long public funerals; declaring the end of the world has arrived and fleeing to the mountains; semi-nude children in public; refusing to allow children to attend school; exorcisms; failed resurrections; etc.);
  • to obey a prophesy by Afanasy Tim. Bezayiff in his later years (1920s, 1930s? Does anyone know?) in reaction to the scandals to hide their faith from the world, non-believers and the government;
  • a false belief that the Molokan faith perished in Russia and in San Francisco, hence the label was free for false use without opposition;
  • a failed attempts to follow their prophesy back to the base of Mount Ararat in 1939; and
  • to appease Molokan and Prygun families to join their “true” faith by using a fabricated hybrid neutral label.
By the 1940s, an effort to unify all denominations in the U.S. created a new five-word nonsense phrase label: “Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian Jumpers,” which was shortened to “Molokan,” a complete camouflage.

The largest cemetery in the U.S. operated by Dukhizhizniki (Commerce CA) posts the label “Spiritual Jumper” only in Russian, not in English. (See image above.) The signs on the gate and street display “Russian Molokan Christian,” as does an internal sign in Russian and English, but the Russian words are not completely translated, hiding the embarrasing Prygun identity from Americans and diaspora who cannot read Russian. The original historic label “Spiritual Christian” is also notably absent in English.

Variety of Dukhizhizniki

A wide spectrum of diverse Dukhizhizniki exist around the world. Congregations are divided internally and between congregations and remain irreversibly divided, by geography, by the extent of use and acceptance of the Dukh i zhizn', various old Russian rituals and traditions, and after a dominate elder dies. All efforts to unify Spiritual Christians in the Americas into apocalyptic agricultural colonies failed. In 1933, the effort to unify all in Los Angeles into the “Big Church” failed mainly due to objections by Maksimisty against the komitet (Russian “the committee,” board of directors), their Prygun holidays and Molokan members.

By the 1950s, all Prygun congregations in the U.S.A. (not Mexico) were officially, though not intrinsically, converted to Dukhizhiznik. In 1950 many immigrant Pryguny who arrived in Los Angeles from Iran (Persia) were rejected by locally established zealot Dukhizhizniki, who believed they converted all congregations to their faiths, until the immigrants placed the Dukh i zhizn' on their table and abandoned half of their holidays. This was a major surprise to the immigrants who were initially misled that they were being hosted by Spiritual Christian Molokane. Until the immigrants were fully converted, American Dukhizhizniki who attended the "Persian" Prygyn services were severely reprimanded for attending a heresy faith, even if only suspected of attending.

In his autobiography The Memiors of Paul John Orloff (2008, self published, 568 pages) the elder singer documented how he was falsely accused and extensively harassed for allegedly attending a "Persian" Prygun holiday in 1961. In "The Story of Why I avoided Big Church Since Sept. 14, 1965" (pages 427-456), Orloff (dob-dod) detailed the sequence of actions against him for allegedly attending a "Persian" Rozhestvo service (Birth of Christ, Christmas). This false accusation was easy to verify because witnesses could testify that Orloff actually attended a Dukhizhiznik pomenki (memorial service) that same day in Porterville, Central California, about 170 miles away. His accusers repeatedly refused to check the facts, talk with witnesses and intensified their bullying until Orloff's left to join another congregation (Akhtinskii, Samarin's, Percy St). For more than 50 years the "Big Church" board and prestol have refused to review this case and never apologized. (If they ever do, I'll post the date.)

In the 19080s Dukhizhiznik relatives of founders of the “Re-Formed” congregation in Orgeon (above) were harassed. The elder lead singer John Alex Efseaff was removed from his position because his son Phillip co-founded an English Prygun congregation, not using the Dukh i zhizn', and co-published the Bessednik (sic) newsletter in the 1980s which critically examined Dukhizhiznik history. The sin of the elder Efseaff was not publicly ostracizing his son.

Ironically the oral history of these Spiritual Christians emphasizes religious freedom as a main reason for fleeing to America, yet many do not tolerate freedom of religion or speech. They have bullied people based on allegations and actions of relatives.

Dukhizhizniki around the world have divided for many reasons (not in rank order):
  • geography (migrated to California in 1904-1912 or not, village of ancestors, proximity to Mt. Ararat)
  • eating communal (obschaya pisha : обжая пиша), or with individual dishes, spoons, forks)
  • use of technology (photograph; telephone; display / TV / computer (displei : дисплей / yekron : экрон)
  • Russian language (fluency, southern dialect preferred / demanded); use of Old Russian Slavonic language, or not)
  • appearance-dress,
    • men (white or colored, rope belt knot left or right), hair style (parted in middle "like open Bible" or Jesus, length), beard style and size (long, bushy preferred; 100 years ago hair was long, now short)
    • women (white or colored; bonnet (chepchik : чепчик))
  • married into "right" family (spiritual blood-line of clan, or not)
  • intermarriage of kids and relatives into right" family (spiritual blood-line of clan, or not)
  • how many children (5+ preferred)
  • practice spiritual jumping and prophesy, or not
  • extent and quality of singing, number of verses/song memorized, loudness (shout singing now in vogue)
  • use of the Maksimist identity greeting (Parginal, Assuringal, Yuzgoris! : Паргинал, Ассурингал, Юзгорис!)
  • associations (affiliations, attendance and recognition at other congregations/faiths, etc.)
  • formal/ higher education, none preferred
  • attend other assemblies, faith meetings (faith types are clustered, some off-limits)
  • emphasis of the authors of the Kniga solnsta dukh i zhizn' (Maksimisty versus Davidisty versus others)
  • literal interpretation of Bible and Dukh i zhin' preferred to allegorical.
  • veneration of M.G. Rudomyotkin (“King of the Spirits”, never died, Saint in prayer and song, rose to heaven, etc.)
  • personal wealth (more the better among all branches); Rudomyotktin instructs path to wealth by hiring many Arabs
  • military enlistment (tolerated or not)
  • taking oaths, affirmations, or not
  • joining the collective farm (kolkhoz), or not
  • ritual variations (prayers, songs, funerals, holidays, etc.)
  • home and prayer house size, decor and location (in village, city), etc.
  • occupation (rural farmer-preferred; if urban self-employed blue-collar, driver preferred)
  • anticipation or prophesy of nuclear holocaust, Apocalypse, New World Order, etc.
  • ancestral nationality mix (Armenian, Cossack, Chuvash, Finn, Mordva, Russian, German, Ukrainian, etc.)
  • picture on driver's license, or not (when allowed)
In 1909 during the Pashka holiday in Los Angeles, Alex Kottoff 23 and Lana Sissoeff 18 attempted suicide because Lana's father forbid her marriage to Alex. From 1911 through the 1920s Prygun traditional parental control of free-unregistered marriage became a legal scandal in Los Angeles and near Glendale, Arizona. In contrast the San Francisco Molokane more quickly complied with American laws to register marriages, and allowed mixed marriages. For a century, diaspora Dukhizhizniki controlled their families actions with punishments and rewards, ostracism and inheritance, for who they befriended and married.

In Los Angeles Maksimist and Prygun-etc. families maintained their tradition of a customary "bride price" (kalym : Калым) to compensate for their loss of a working daughter, and the expense of her wedding. In Russia the typical amount was 2 dairy cows, and in the U.S.A. it was $200-$500. In December 1911, Elsi Novikoff 17, fell in love with an American boy, though her father had already agreed to marry her to a Prygun boy for the highest price yet of $500 because she was very pretty and was earning money for her family. She worked as a maid, and her wealthy employer advocated for her, hiring an attorney to defend her case in court. The story was national news and the investigation exposed more cases reported for neary 3 years. The court case correlates with mass hasty migrations of families to scattered rural colonies for a decade, until the depression after W.W.I. 

To maintain their old world parental controls (marriage, education, dress, language) many Spiritual Christian families fled in groups to other states (Arizona, Washington, Utah, New Mexico), a few went back home to Russia, some reporting religious persecution in Los Angeles as their major reason for leaving to form remote farm colonies. Very fortunate for the Pryguny in Los Angeles, presiding Judge Curtis Wilbur was also on the board of directors of the Bethlehem Institutions and intimately knew these immigrants from many court cases and the work of Dr. Rev. Bartlett. The Spiritual Christians got off easy after agreeing to register all previous marriages and re-do the weddings which the Judge offered to perform for no fee.

In Arizona in 1920, 2 presbyters (presvitery) were to be arrested for the same crime. Mike P. Pivovaroff spent a night in jail, and Foma ("Homer") S. Bogdanoff turned himself in the next day before their trials. They were each fined $300 (nearly a year's wages each, bail paid by congregants) and ordered to re-do all marriages legally. Within a few years most all the hastily formed farm colonies failed, and most Spiritual Christians decided to tollerate American laws and returned to their kingdom in urban Los Angeles.

In the 1930s after being denied mass emigration back to Russia, Dukhizhizniki exported their newly organized faith to the Soviet Union. The ritual books (Dukh i zhizn', with prayer and song books) were mailed to Rostov (U.S.S.R.), Armenia (S.S.R.) and Kars (Turkey), where all Maksimist and some Prygun congregations adopted them and transformed their faiths to somewhat conform with instructions from America.

Dukhizhizniki now in the the North Caucasus, Russian Federation, arrived in two waves — in 1962 from Turkey during a massive resettlement, and 1987-1990s from Armenia during perestroika. They are fractionated and sometimes claim to be the “true” Molokane but avoid and scorn the orgnaized Molokane, S.D.K.M. The most zealous congregations in the Former Soviet Union (F.S.U.) reject all diaspora Dukhizhizniki for abandoning their motherland, the prophesy to stay near Mout Ararat, other prophesies and communal traditions; living in cities; using yekrany (экраны : display screens, T.V., movies, computers). In opposition, many Dukhizhizniki in the diaspora reject those in the F.S.U. for enlisting in the Soviet military (eating non-kosher-like), and because their grandparents did not obey their Klubnikinist prophesy to leave Russia, the zealous diaspora calls them "Jerusalem," essentially ne nashi.

Since perestoika, about 50 Dukhizhiznik families were imported from Armenia, half to the U.S. and half to Australia, primarily to enhance the local congregations with Russian-speaking co-religionists. The immigrants found that their songs, rituals and a new holiday were not fully accepted. Those in Australia formed their own congregation. Those in the U.S. clustered among a few congregations which showed the most acceptance and need for Russian-speakers.

Dukhizhizniki rarely seek new affiliations with Molokane or Pryguny. Though 100s of Dukhizhizniki work in Moscow, they do not hold prayer meetings and never attend Molokan services, even when personally invited by Molokane. When intermarriage occurs between these 3 denominations the couple must decide which to join, if any. Occasionally a Molokan marries a Dukhizhiznik and joins the mate's congregation, only after conversion and scrutiny. No Dukhizhiznik congregation joined the S.D.K.M. by 2007, or attended the 200th Anniversary in 2005, though some attended the diaspora 150th Anniversary held in San Francisco in 1955, and many attended the 100th Anniversary held in 1905 in Vorontsovka, Tiflis governate (1844 Vorontsovka, 1935 Kalinino / Kalinin, 1992 Tashir, Armenia).

Confusing to outsiders and to themselves, many Dukhizhizniki today self-claim to be “true” Molokans by faith. Few welcome visitors, photography, or conversion; and most have closed communion. About 86 Dukhizhiznik congregations, many are small, counted world-wide since 1950.
  • First Armenian Pentecostal ChurchArmenians who joined the Pryguny in Kars Oblast, migrated with them to California, used the book Dukh i zhizn', lived and intermarried in the Los Angeles “Flats” ghetto, are buried in the Dukhizhiznik cemeteries, but now use the label Pentecostal. Now most are unknown or shunned by all Dukhizhnik congregations in California though located near most of the congregations in East Los Angeles County. Ironically, the Demos Shakarian clan, which split and founded the The Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International, is somewhat honored because they credited the Prygun prophet Klubnikin in their published history(24), yet are rejected for joining the “666” false faiths. Most welcome visitors, photography, and conversion. One congregation counted in 2007, La Habra Heights, California, USA.

12. Other Classification Systems

See Two Classification Systems for Spiritual Christian Molokane, Pryguny, and others, and Brandjacking the Doukhobors and Molokans. English version In-Progress

Религиозные течения и секты. Справочник (Directory of religious denominations and sectarians)

Discontinued Labels
Though many labels have been used for the varieties of Spiritual Christians, most are now extinct or the labels no longer commonly used, for example: Knowers-Seers, True Spiritual Christians, Zionists, Akinfevs, Water Molokans, Sunday Molokans, Don group, Krylovs, Molokan-Sabbatarians (Molokan-Subbotniki), Saturday Molokans, Communalists, Noisy-nose-breathers, Bouncers, Molokan-Baptists, Molokan-Fasters, Clean, Stundist-Molokans, Evangelicals, Molokan-Presbyterians, New Molokans, Evangelical Christians, Springers (German translation of Pryguny) Shtundo-Evangelicals, New Israel, Tolstoyan, Nemolaky (non-prayers, non-worshipers)...

  1. Hastings, James, “Men of God,” Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. 8., 1916, page 546.
  2. ortho + doxa = right-correct-true-straight-proper + teaching-worship-doctrine-thinking-faith-belief-opinion-glory (Question and Answer : “Orthodox” Revisited - Part 2, The Orthodox Presbyterian Church.)

The chart below shows a simple holiday taxonomy of Spiritual Christian Molokane, Pryguny and Dukhizhizniki.

Holiday (Christ's, God's)1 Group
Russian, Поруссий*
(*character set = Windows-1251)
1 Bible reference
(more can be found)
Original, Constants,
Steadfast, Postoyannie
(in America)
Blagoveschenie, Благовещение
Luke 1:28-31



Palm Sunday  

(Palm Sunday)

Easter, Passover
 Paskha, Пасха
Leviticus 23:5-10
(Passion Week, Easter)
Ascension Day**
Voznesenie, Вознесение
Mark 16:1-8; Acts 1:9
Pentecost***, Trinity
Piatidesiatnitsa, Пятидесятница
Troitsa, Троица
Acts 2, Leviticus 23:16-23
Preobrazhenie, Преображение
Mathew 17:1-9
(Memorial, Blowing of) Trumpets***
Trubnyi, Трубный
Pamiat Trub, Памят Труб
Leviticus 23:23-25  
Fast Day of Atonement***
Post Sudnyi Den', Пост Судный День
Leviticus 16:29-34  
Festival of Shelters/Booths*** 4
Feast of Tabernacles
Kuschei, Kuscha, Кущей, Куща
Leviticus 23:33-44  
Harvest Festival4
Urozhai, zhatva : Урожай, жатва
Leviticus 23:33-44
(3-Day Fast, Thanksgiving4)
Birth of Christ, Christmas
Rozhdestvo Khrista, Рождество Христа
Luke 2:1-20
(Christmas Eve Youth Program,
Christmas Day Service
Kreschenie, Крещение
Luke 3:21-22
Seventh (Week)
Sed'moi, Седьмой
From prophesy
in Armenia


Annunciation — March 25, announcement by angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary of the incarnation of Christ.
Ascension Day — 40th day after Easter, for the bodily passing of Christ from earth to heaven.
Transfiguration — August 6, festival for the supernatural change in the appearance of Christ on the mountain.
Epiphany — January 6, for the coming of the 3 gentile wise men, Magi, to Jesus at Bethlehem, and baptism.
***  See Interpretation of American Jumper Holidays (with Jewish comparison)
Information is from many sources
The oldest is an 1874 Spiritual Christian (Molokan) calendar found in the Russian State Historical Archive (RGIA, St. Petersburg) by Edward J. Samarin in summer 1992 and published in Molokan NEWS (1993, San Francisco CA).

In 1997, I photocopied a holiday table typed by the head speaker (Besednik) of the Dukhovnye congregation in Inozemstvo, Stavropol'skii territory, Russia (near Piatigorsk). His table showed their holidays for the entire decade of the 1990s. His congregation resettled from Azerbaijan in the mid-1990s. The use of these holidays was confirmed by elders of the Piatigorsk Dukhovnye, who left Kars in the 1920s, whose elder prophet Botiev added that there are two categories of holidays — Christ's and God's — and that every holiday is important, but the Molokane and Dukhizhizniki each reject half of our holidays.

For comparison see Holidays and Rituals of Doukhobors in the Caucasus, by Svetlana A. Inikova, Russian Academy of Sciences, and Calendar of Doukhobor Holidays in the Caucasus, compiled by Jonathan J. Kalpakoff.

The first Molokane kept the major Orthodox Christian holidays, which some now call Christ's Holidays. Also in the beginning many judiazers (Sabbatarians. Russian: Subbotniki) joined the Molokane (See Miluikov) and the Old Testament God's Holidays were added. I suspect that early Molokane were allowed to chose their sabbath day (Saturday or Sunday), and which holidays to follow (all or some). In the 1700s a large group of Sabbatarians in Saratov led by Dolmatov joined and many original Molokane refused the compromise causing a split — probably into Constants (Sunday Molokane), Sabbatarians (Saturday Molokane), and Dukhovnye. (See Miluikov). In 1833, many of the Dukhovnye became Pryguny in the Milky Waters area (See Hoover & Petrov, chap. 12: “Salt and Light”; also Berokoff, chap 5). In the 1860s in the Caucasus, one leader among the several Prygun groups, M.G. Rudomyotkin, removed Christ's Holidays for his followers (See Berokoff, Addenda XXX), who were labeled Maksimisty in the 1920s (See Lane). During the 1910s in America, the American Pryguny, who dominated all but two American Constant congregations, began to insist that "Maksim's rituals" (new rituals : novie obriad) be adopted (See Berokoff, chap 3) and removed Christ's Holidays, which caused concern, and jealousy, among youth who felt deprived of American Christian celebrations like Christmas. Before WWII, the UMCA sponsored youth activities during Christmas (carol singing, gift stockings) and Easter (candy baskets). This practice was mostly officially stopped by newer elected officers before the UMCA relocated to East Los Angeles, about 1950. In the mid-1950s, the Dukhovnye Pryguny who immigrated from Persia (Iran) were told by the dominant American Dukhizhizniki to abandon Christ's Holidays or be labeled “non-Molokan” (See Berokoff, chap. 8), even though the American Constant Molokane obeyed these holidays. With no freedom of religion allowed by Maksimisty, all Prygun congegations in America became Dukhizhizniki.

Most descendants of Pyguny in America (and those who moved to Australia ) who claim to be ethnic and religious Molokans practice the Dukhizhiznik faith. In America, some dominant members of the Dukhizhizniki claimed to be the “center of Molokansim” while ignoring the real Molokane. Also confusing is that congegations and individulas who use the book Dukhi zhizn' are not in agreement. They differ widely on interpretation and focus. Some believe Rudomyotkin did not die, but rose into heaven, some say on a white horse. Some sing songs to praise Rudomiotkin, others avoid such songs. Some Dukhizhizniki primarily follow Klubnikin, or David Esseich, not Rudomyotkin. Some are ashamed of, or hate the book, yet tollerate it to be socially accepted, to keep their position in their congregation, and/or be accepted by other congregations. Some use the book in place of the Bible. Despite these differences, all Dukhizhizniki place the book Dukhi zhizn' on their altar table and follow the Old Testament holidays.

This major holiday was added by prophesy among Dukhizhiznik congregations in Armenia as a perpetual Pentecost. Every 7 weeks throughout the year, Armenian Dukhizhizniki conduct Sed'moi (Russian: Seventh), a spiritual fast and cleansing service which they started before WWII. This new holiday is practiced only in that region. Sed'moi became important during perestroika and the Karabakh war (late 1980s), as families (90%) were fleeing to safety in Russia. In the Caucasus, 7 is a symbolic lucky number. Sed'moi promotes intra-group cohesion, so the refugees and those 10% remaining in Armenia will rekindle their spiritual faith and identity more often than on their few traditional major holidays. There is some concern by a few of the several dozen recent Dukhizhizniki migrants from Armenia in America and Australia that they cannot perform this holiday with their new congregations. In Australia in 2006, recent immigrants from Armenia purchased their own building to hold their own traditional services, and may have included Sed'moi

Some Russian Molokane celebrate the Harvest Festival (3-day fast) in place of the Festival of Shelters for 8 days. The American Molokane adopted, or substituted, American Thanksgiving because it is a similar autumn harvest festival, but they schedule the feast to be on the Sunday before American Thanksgiving which occurs on Thursdays. In Central California, the Dukhizhiznik congregations near Kerman have celebrated a version of the harvest festival, calling it an offering for the crops. Formerly 2 congregations joined so each could perform the blessing for the other, but disagreement over how a presviter was removed has stopped their cooperation. For a history of the Harvest Festival and the Old Testament, see: Праздник Сбора Урожая или Праздник Кущей [ДБ34] (Christian Churches of God, Australia, who may be descendants of Molokane.).

5. Molokane in Russia, as all Russians and Eastern Orthodox, celebrate the Birth of Christ on January 7, according to the Julian calendar, but American Molokane adopted the American Christmas Day, December 25, to take advantage of the national holiday which had the advantage of showing they were American Christians.

The active diaspora Spiritual Christians who mainly learned spoken and recited Russian from elders, with minimal or no exposure to other forms of the language, preserved many characteristics of the oral dialects imported by their ancestors more than 100 years ago, before the Russian revolution, and the pre-1918 Russian alphabet.

Dialect (G > H) — Some Spiritual Christians whose ancestors spoke any of the 4 Southern Russian dialects, and confined their Russian-speaking to their homogeneous introverted communities, have retained the characteristic voiced velar fricative /ɣ/ (audio pronunciation) as sacred meta-communication for over a century. For them Prigun/Priguny must be reverently pronounced Prihun/Prihuny (Pree-HOON/Pree-hoo-NEE), as do all non-loan Russian words with /Г/ (/g/). Those indoctrinated for generations by the most zealous diaspora Dukhizhizniki evolved an over-stress (strongly voiced) in their pronunciation dialect; for example, где (gde : where) became хеде (HEH-de).

Within their meta-communication, Russian Standard pronunciations from the outside world (ne nashi) are scorned as disrespectful, sometimes heresy, which explains the over-stress, but their oral history has forgotten the reason. Diaspora Dukhobor oral history reported a belief, adapted from Church Slavonic, that God recognizes his chosen people who pronounce /Г/ (/g/) correctly. (cite Iskra) (Also: Doukhobor Russian, Wikipedia; Q43: Is 'Doukhobor Dialect' Defended? Spirit-Wrestlers blog.)

Dialect (M > N) — In Arizona, the Dukhizhiznik head singer Mike John Tolmachoff scolded anyone who did not pronounce words as he had learned. He insisted that the male name "Nikifor" and his ancestral village "Nikitino" must be pronounced "Mikifor" and "Mikitino." Russians recognize this shift from "M" to "N" as Ukrainian. Mikifor is a Polish variant, and a Russian variant spelling and popular form for Nikifor. M.J. Tolmachoff believed he spoke a sacred dialect. His clan is descended from the sister of M.G. Rudomyotkin (from Nikitino village), and some claimed to have inherited his "spiritual blood."

Dialect (Slavonic) — Diaspora Dukhizhizniki retained the pre-1918 Cyrillic alphabet, some archaic words and sacred Old Slavonic vocabulary in their liturgy. To the the most zealous, changing the words, or updating the Russian spelling or alphabet, is heresy.

Old = New

сихъ = этих
итить = идёт иже = который

сiи = это яко = как еси = ты есть

сѣй = этот очи = глаза

The last 2 examples above appear in the Lord's prayer, which has been updated, reinterpreted and retranslated over time.

Отче наш, иже еси на небеси ... Our Father, who art/is in heaven ...

Отче наш, еже си на небеси ... Our Father, who art/is in heaven ...

Отче наш, если ты есть на небе ... Our Father, if you are in heaven ...

Отче наш, сущий на небе ... Our Father, who is in heaven ...

No matter what version one memorizes, it will offend others who were indoctrinated differently.
"My deda [grandfather] told me it was this way!" "That's what I learned!

7. About 8 of 10 congregations in Los Angeles County have a volunteer representative on a cemetery committee, but the committee as an organization avoids contact with outsiders and representing the faith. Messages left at the cemetery office may be ignored. A 5-man board of directors at the U.M.C.A., Hacienda Heights, is also shy of meeting outsiders and has no public contact. Similarly, messages left at the school office by outsiders may not be answered.

The first website to represent Dukhizhiznik congregations, launched in February 2015, is limited to 3 of 5-6 unidentified Dukhizhiznik congregations in Oregon that joined to launch a simple website to list holydays (holidays) and promote their annual picnic. Mislabeled Molokans Northwest (, the website shows 4 contact names : James M. Berokoff , Gabriel A. Federoff (webmaster?), George G. Sessoyeff, and John G. Sessoyeff; but no contact addresses, phone numbers, or email, except a form to submit with sender's name and email return.(OR

8. Several distinct examples of a Russian-American dichotomy among Dukhizhizniki exist, where inter-faith and public group participation acceptable in Russia is forbidden among the diaspora.

No diaspora Dukhizhizniki (of 3 in attendance) would speak at the 1982 Inter-Groups Symposium, hosted by the U.S.C.C. Doukhobors for Molokans, Mennonites, Society of Friends (Quakers), and Doukhobors. (Details later.)

In 1992 and 2013 in Russia, Dukhizhizniki participated in jubilees hosted by the Stavropol Regional Museum of Fine Art, Novokumskoe Branch. And in 1995 they accepted an invitation to perform at the Smithsonian Folklore Festival in Washington DC, a 10-day event, all expenses paid.

In contrast in California, diaspora Dukhizhizniki perpetually harassed the U.M.C.A. choir that performed at the Smithsonian Folklore Festival in 1975 so much that the next invitation, arranged in 1995 to bring choirs from Russian and the U.S. together, was rejected in secret, with no announcement. Instead, Molokan choirs from Russia and California were substituted just in time to make all reservations. Dukhizhizniki in Russia were shocked and disappointed for decades. (Details later.)

9. For "introversionist sect" see Wilson, Bryan R. Religious Sects: A Sociological Study, 1970, pages 120-122.
When congregations in Southern California have been approached to meet an outsider or make a decision regarding foreign congregations, they either refer the task to the cemetery committee (which avoids response); or, to the "Persian" congregation (Los Angeles) or presviter John Kochergen (Fresno, CA), who are more willing to answer inquiries from "the world." This introverted behavior diverts possible attacks by their own zealots to others.


Popoff, Eli A., "Stories from Doukhobor History, Part 8," Iskra, issue #2067, June 1, 2013, page 13.

11. "Russian Peasant Religion and Its Repression: The Christ-Faith [Kristovshchina] and the Origin of the 'Flagellant' Myth, 1666-1837." Ph.D dissertation, University of Chicago, 1989.

12. "Pavel Grigor’evich Ryndziunskii, who discovered in the archives [St. Petersburg] a file on the “Tambov schismatics” dating to 1768–69, did not identify those schismatics as Dukhobors but instead designated them as the “Spiritual Christians” and “Tambov freethinkers” from whom the Dukhobors and Molokans later gradually diverged. He held that the anti-ecclesiastical movement in that area had yet to take any particular sectarian form and that it was still somewhat pliant in doctrinal terms."
— Inikova, S.E. "The Tambov Dukhobors in the 1760s," Russian Studies in History, vol. 46, no. 3, Winter 2007–8, page 10. Translated by Liv Bliss from the Russian text © 1997 “Vestnik Tambovskogo Universiteta.” “Tambovskie dukhobortsy v 60-e gody XVIII veka,” Vestnik Tambovskogo universiteta. Seriia: Gumanitarnye nauki, no. 1 (1997), pp. 39–53. Cited from P.G. Ryndziunskii, “Antitserkovnoe dvizhenie v Tambovskom krae v 60-e gody XVIII v.,” in Voprosy istorii religii i ateizma (Moscow, 1954), p. 159.
13. For more about the origins and evolution of Pryguny see Dr. Zhuk's book: Russia’s Lost Reformation: Peasants, Millennialism, and Radical Sects in Southern Russia and Ukraine, 1830-1917, pages 99-199.

For more about a prophesy for Apocalypse at Mount Ararat in 1836, stay tuned to this channel...

14. Breyfogle's 1998 PhD thesis, pages 271+

"... the Czar ... in 1904, issued his ukase insuring religious freedom to all, with the exception of the "Dancers" [Pryguny] and one or two other sects ... " ("The Molokanye of Russia Seek Asylum in America; .. Milk-Drinking Quakers ... Tolstoy Finally Secured Permission for Them to Emigrate," (2nd paragraph), New York Times, 19 May 1907.) These restrictions were modified in a later ukaz on April 30, 1905, causing Molokane to stay in Russia while Pryguny fled with other zealous sects who also falsely assumed a disguise as Molokane upon arrival.

16. Arel. D."Fixing Ethnicity in Identity Documents: The Rise and Fall of Passport Nationality in Russia," Watson Institute, Brown University, NCEEER, 2006, pages 5, 14.

17. The term Postoyannie occurs 3 times in Young's Pilgrims of Russian-town (1932), and 16 times in Berokoff's Molokans in America (1969).

18. Isajiw, Wsevolod W. Definitions And Dimensions Of Ethnicity, in Paul R. Magocsi (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples (University of Toronto Press, 1999), pages 413-418.

19. Integrate: To coexist in a culture without loosing native language or culture, not fully assimilating.
Assimilate: For immigrants to become indistinguishable from natives in language and culture.

20. духоборцы (Russian: dukhobortsy), Duchobortzi, Dukhobor, Dukabar, Douk, Doukhobour, Doukhobour, Doukhobor (most common English),

21. Report of Royal Commission on Matters Relating to the Sect of Doukhobors in the Province of British Columbia, 1912. pages 64+, Book IV: Objections, General Findings, Recommendations: Evidence denied most all objections except refusal to comply with laws for registration and education.

22. Jakobson, R. (1962) "Why 'mama' and 'papa'?" In Jakobson, R. Selected Writings, Vol. I: Phonological Studies, pp. 538–545. — Universal forms of babbling "baby talk .. enter into the general usage of adult society, and build a specific infantile layer in standard vocabulary. .. and thus follow the general line of any interlanguage ..." There are " 'cross-language parallels' in the structure of such terms throughout the world."

Nichols, J. (1999) "Why 'me' and 'thee'?" Historical Linguistics 1999: Selected Papers from the 14th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Vancouver, 9-13 August 1999, ed. Laurel J. Brinton, John Benjamins Publishing, 2001, pages 253-276. — The "mama" terms "... display strikingly cross-linquistic resemblances around the globe ... " and "... are generally regarded as universal-driven and phonosymbolic in their phonology..." (page 253). Map showing distribution of languages sampled on page 254. "Conclusions: ... phonosymbolism in personal pronouns and 'mama' — 'papa' vocabulary is more indirect and abstract than has generally been believed."(page 272)

Bancel, P.J. and A.M. de l'Etang. (2013) "Brave new words," New Perspectives on the Origins of Language, ed. C. Lefebvre, B. Comrie, H. Cohen (John Benjamins Publishing, Nov 15, 2013), pages 333-377. — "the global convergence of mama/papa words in world language cannot be due to chance" and "played a crucial role in the early appearance of articulate speech ..."

23. Materials at MLA on the Central Asia trek, c a. 1880. (updated 2006), Mennonite Library and Archives, Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas, USA. — Source document archive and bibliography at the library. Some of the articles and books are online.

Bartsch, Franz. Our Trek to Central Asia, 1907, trans. Elizabeth Peters and Gerhard Ens (Winnipeg, MB: CMBC and Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society, 1993) — "The reason for these memoirs ... is ... to prevent us from committing the same errors: of interpreting Scripture capriciously and arbitrarily in order to justify and re-enforce preconceived notions and opinions, and of accepting uncritically the emergence of self-appointed and self-aggrandizing leaders. Rather we are to test all teachings and all leadership through sober use of Scripture as the Word of God so that we will not fall prey to any kind of fanaticism."

Belk, F.R. The Great Trek of the Russian Mennonites to Central Asia 1880-1884, 1976, pages 43-227. — Published master's thesis. — Find in a library.

Janzen, Waldemar, "The Great Trek: Episode or Paradigm?" Mennonite Quarterly Review, v.51, April 1977, pages 127-139. — Lengthy review and analysis of theology missing in Belk's thesis (above). Ordered

Doerksen, Victor G.  In Search of a Mennonite Imagination, Journal of Mennonite Studies, Vol. 2, 1984, pages 104-112. — Lutheran pastor Clöter was "the principle source of stimulation" who developed the ideas of Bengel on the millennium. Jung-Stilling wrote "religious fiction." Both were interpreted by Epp as factual prophesy. The trek was fragmented, new leaders attacked.  Lutherans avoided it. Belk ignored Bartsch (in German).  New rituals were required.  "A sociological analysis of the movement ... as ... modern-day cults." ... a "fascinating merging of pacifism and millennialism." "... Christians were not to accept the rights and duties of citizenship at all." "The Great Trek: Episode or Paradigm?" "The group ... is looking for a 'gathering place' (Sammlungsort) not a 'place of refuge' (Bergungsort) [to escape from restrictive legislation]."

Dueck, A. J. Claas Epp and the Great Trek Reconsidered, Journal of Mennonite Studies, Vol. 3, 1985, pages 138-147. — Summary of previous publications and new considerations. Epp led the "Bride Community" "super saints" and claimed to be the Son of Christ and the prophet Elijah.

Huebert, Helmut. "Chapter 12. Journey to Central Asia (1880-1882)", in Events and People: Events in Russian Mennonite History and the People that Made Them Happen, 1999, pages 59-63. — In 1881 a huge trek (pakhod) was initiated by Claas Epp who believed he was following Jung-Stillings directions to form refuge colonies in Turkestan to wait for Christ to arrive on March 1, 1889. Believers stood all day in white robes, praying and fasting. Christ did not appear and the prophesy was adjusted. 2 full-page maps illustrate the locations. After Epp died in 1913, some of his followers believed he will return with Christ.

Unger, Walter. Mennonite Millennial Madness: A Case Study, Direction: A Mennonite Brethren Forum, Fall 1999, Vol. 28 No. 2, pages 201–217. — Historic review of failed apocalyptic prophecies 1528, 1530, 1533, 1836, 1889, 1891. As Son of Christ, Epp added himself to Trinity, forming a quadruple god-head. Contemporary prophecy teachers who read current events back into Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation are repeating Claas Epp’s error  (and that of legions before him).

Juhnke, James C. Rethinking the Great Trek, Mennonite Life, Fall 2007, Vol. 62 NO. 2 — Update of research published by Belk and Huebert (above), and others. A summary to document a "Great Trek Tour" in the Summer of 2007 by Mennonite historians with heritage tourists who retraced the trek of the 1880s. Professor Juhnke admits he "had not been doing a very good job of teaching this topic in Mennonite history classes at Bethel College over the past quarter century."

Petrov, Sergey. The Pursuit of Solyma: Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling's Letters as Part of His Spiritual Autobiography, in Historical Papers 2007, eds, B. Gobbett, B.L. Guenther, R. Rogers Healey: Canadian Society of Church history, 2007, pages 31-41. — Dr. Petrov, a descendant of Spiritual Christian Molokane, examines how Jung-Stilling's fictional novel and religious fantasy Das Heimweh (1794-1796) was mistakenly interpreted as truth, which alarmed him when fanaticism progressed to mass pilgrimages which he tried to stop.
24. From page 90: ... главный распространитель на кавказкъ секть "о духъ" или "пригунковъ" ... should be translated as "... chief spreader of the 'Spirituals' (literally: of the Spirit) or 'Jumpers' sect in the Caucasus ..."  The Russian word распространитель (ras-pro-stra-ni-tel' : spreader ) was mistranslated (pages 91, 109) as "preacher." Rudomyotkin was not arrested for preaching in private homes, which was tolerated though illegal, rather he was arrested for the seriously illegal act of widely preaching to non-believers, evangelizing and spreading (disseminating, broadcasting) his heresy in public to other villages and faiths. On page 109, the crime date 1858 is missing in translation.

For younger readers, "whitewash" is jargon similar in use to the current term "Photoshopped" and the earlier "air brushed" to describe how a photo or history is censored, changed, or made politically correct.

26. Immigration Act, 1906, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21; Hollihan, K. Tony. 'A brake upon the wheel': Frank Oliver and the Creation of the Immigration Act of 1906, Past Imperfect, v1 (1992), University of Alberta, pages 93-112.

Holiday Dates for American Molokane 2005, 2006, 2010-2020
Holiday Dates for American Dukhizhizniki 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007
Interpretation of American Dukhizhiznik Holidays (with Jewish comparison)

Spiritual Christians Around the World