òð¸õ äóõîâíûõ õðèñòèàíñêèõ ãðóïï: ìîëîêàíå, ïðûãóíû è
— êíèãè, îáùåíèå, ïåñíè, ïðàçäíèêè, ïðîðîêè
by Andrei Conovaloff
In-Progress: (Updated: February 26 , 2015) Comments, corrections welcome — Administrator @ Molokane. org
After a century of misuse, the Russian term molokan(1) unfortunately has several very different confused meanings —
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.
The purpose of this page is to explain how and why the misnomers of "Molokan" were created, transformed and misused; and to present an empirical classification system for the 3 Spiritual Christian groups —
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.
* "Sect" and "sectarian" as derived from the Latin secare, meaning "to cut or cut off."
Pronunciation Guide and Relative Distribution
These 3 Spiritual Christian groups are easily identified by their characteristic liturgies used during prayer-worship services.
1. All Maksimisty are Dukhizhizniki, but not all Dukhizhizniki are Maksimisty.
2. 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.
5. 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.
Ýòè òðè ãðóïïû äóõîâíûõ õðèñòèàí ìîæíî ëåãêî îïðåäåëèòü ïî èõ ðàçëè÷íèì õàðàêòåðèñòèêàì.
1. Âñå ìàêñèìèñòû – äóõèæèçíèêè, íî íå âñå äóõèæèçíèêè ìàêñèìèñòû.
2. Áîëüøèíñòâî âçÿòî èç ðóññêèõ íàðîäíûõ ïåñåí è çàèìñòâîâàíî îò íåìåöêèõ ïðîòåñòàíòîâ.
3. Âî âðåìÿ îáåäà íà ñâàäüáàõ, ïîõîðîíàõ, êñòèíàõ è ïðàçäíèêàõ.
Estos 3 grupos cristianos espirituales son fácilmente identificados por sus liturgias característicos usados durante los servicios de oración de adoración.
1. Todos los Maksimisty son Dukhizhizniki, pero no todos son Dukhizhizniki Maksimisty.
2. La mayoría fueron tomadas de canciones populares rusas y tomadas de los protestantes alemanes.
3. No durante el servicio, pero a menudo durante las comidas en las bodas, funerales, dedicación niño, días de fiesta.
4. 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.
1. Her Maksimist bir Dukhizhizniki olan; bazı Dukhizhizniki Maksimisty olan.
2, En çok Rus halk şarkıları uyarlanan ve Alman Protestanlar ödünç.
3. Değil hizmeti sırasında, ama çoğu zaman düğün, cenaze, çocuk özveri ve dini yemekler sırasında..
5. Açık Canon, sürekli vahiy ile modifiye edilebilir bir kutsal metin.
This Taxonomy answers 2 questions :
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.
A simple historical classification system (presented below) defines confused groups of non-Doukhobor 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. 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 did not object. It stubbornly persists today, which confuses the histories of diverse faiths which are not Molokan.
Who are Spiritual Christian — Milk-drinkers?
Dukhovnye khristiane—molokane (Äóõîâíûå õðèñòèàíå-ìîëîêàíå : Spiritual Christian Milk-drinkers) is a registered religion with an international organization and headquarters in south Russia. Members of this organization are officially internationally recognized as "Molokans."
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 from Russia, not Orthodox.
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 solnsta dukh i zhizn' in addition to the Russian Bible. The congregations that use this book are loosely networked transformed faiths not totally in koinonia (unity, fellowship, brotherhood, partnership, full communion : åäèíñòâî, áðàòñòâî, òîâàðèùåñòâî, ïîëíîå îáùåíèå) with Molokane or Pryguny.*** 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 are published in their holy book: Kniga solnste, dukh i zhin' (Book of the Sun, Spirit and Life, 1928). Oral and notebook prophecies of at least 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. Several separate congregations may have meeting halls near each other. Intermarriage among Dukhizhizniki is scrutinized; brides 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 prohibits (or scorns) inter-faith and public exchanges, those in the Northern Caucasus typically participate in events organized by regional government.(8) The most zealous practicing diaspora Dukhizhizniki today have internalized their historic oppression from the 1800s, and express group behavior similar to a selfish herd and an "introversionist sect."(9)
Pryguny or Skakuny (founded about 1833 in South Ukraine, but not named until about 1856 in the Caucasus) are historically a somewhat intermediary weak evolutionary link between Molokane and Dukhizhizniki. The Pryguny were formed by zealous millennialists from a variety of faiths in Tavria Governate (including some Molokane, mostly by intermarriage). The origin of this multi-hybrid amalgamated faith cluster is much less documented than other Spiritual Christians, because it was illegal and hid. Reports various described congregants in Russian as skakuny and pryguny, and in English as jumpers, leapers, noisy-nose-breathers, bouncers and dancers. Most migrated to the Southern Caucasus after 1840 with other Spiritual Christian faiths as colonizers, where they grew in numbers and fractionated while continually incorporating new beliefs, songs and rituals from other faiths, mostly from Anabaptists 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 original Molokan holidays (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.
Using the 1997 Johnstone definitions for sect and cult, Molokane and Pryguny are sects, and Dukhizhiznik congregations are many cults. Analysis with other classifications systems in-progress.
None of these 3 groups have missionaries, or paid religious positions or staff. All work voluntarily. In the F.S.U., 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, Rowland 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 coloreds to become wealthy, therefore zealous adherents refuse to volunteer to perform community service manual labor.
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 and many Pryguny). Their new ritual holy books (which transformed through 4 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, many 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 united to "re-form" their own version of a Prygun faith by (1) rejecting the divinity of the book Kniga solnsta 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 their abandoned Americanized Molokan (Christ's) holidays. Their self-conversion was severely scorned by zealous diaspora Dukhizhizniki as heresy, which deterred forming much wanted congregations in Southern California. They did this with no personal knowledge of Pryguny in the Soviet Union.
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 about one-fourth of their total populations. See: Reasons for migration, Dukhizhizniki in America.
The first migration wave was large and quick. In 1899 about 7,400 (1/3) of the most zealous and persecuted Dukhobortsy (spirit-wrestlers, Doukhobors) 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-Doukhobor Spiritual Christians, to Los Angeles, California, where less than half 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 Doukhobors to Canada.
During these migrations to North America, all Spiritual Christians were called "Russian Quakers" in the press, and sometimes Mennonites. Sometimes Spiritual Christian Doukhobors were called Molokans, and sometimes Spiritual Christian Molokans 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 many 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.
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 Doukhobors. 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 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 a 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, nor fanatic religious cults.
The false single simple label probably allowed the advisers and agents:
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 were 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.
Unfortunately today, many of the most zealous and vocally aggressive Dukhizhizniki stubbornly falsely retain a belief that they are Molokane, even boasting they are the "true" authentic version of Molokane. How did this happen? First marketing, then fear and shame.
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 —
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 rituals ordered in the 1600s.
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, 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 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 (çàìîëîêàíèë : 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 Doukhobors 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, 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 not exist until after 1833, 28 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 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). He was anxious to bring them all to Southern California, invested years of effort and a lot of money, and he whitewashed them, apparently for their own protection.
He was most impressed with the Molokane who came first. They were more educated and better dressed than the other sects. He was probably afraid the most zealous 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 coloreds 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 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 WASP 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, one tycoon (Huntington?) offered 30,000 acres near Los Angeles, which was rejected, perhaps by zealots.
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 Doukhobor settlements in Canada, scouted Hawaii, wrote letters, published articles, contacted the President, and spent 1000s of hours meeting and traveling with them. No matter what he did, many were not satisfied and fought among themselves. After about 15 years Demens and his colleagues gave up trying to help these Spiritual Christians from Russia. The Spiritual Christians eventually erased Demens from their oral history, which is now being restored here.
In the mid-1920s, sociology student Pauline V. Young (1886-1977) who graduated from the University of Chicago and had worked for several social service agencies, moved to Los Angeles with her husband, sociologist Dr. Erle F. Young, also from the University Chicago. They were Jewish. 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. 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 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 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 continued for the rest of the century, up to this day.
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, Zionisty 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 Jan 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 (ïîñòîÿííèå : constant, steadfast, unchanged) 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."(XX) 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.(XX)
Of all the faiths who call themselves Molokane, only the official international Molokan organization youth host a Molokan website — SDKM.ru. To date, only 3 other web sites in Russia are hosted by Molokane, while this one (molokane.org) is the only website in English with extensive content about Molokans around the world. Many temporary web sites were started by 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 Christians — Molokan(e), Prygun(y) and Dukhizhiznik(i). In respect, and for honesty in journalism and scholarship, please use these 3 simple terms as a standard.
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 liturgy — songs, holidays, books and rituals.
In the Americas, they are also easily identified by location.
a – Open canon, can be modified by continuous revelation, in application similar to Latter Day Saint canons.
b – Most adapted from Russian folk songs and borrowed from German Protestants.
c – During meals at weddings, funerals, child dedication, holidays.
d – All Maksimisty are Dukhizhizniki, but not all Dukhizhizniki are Maksimisty.
This taxonomy uses the transliterated original labels from Russian (shown in italics) because the historic Russian terms have 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 (ìîëèòâåíûé äîì / äîì ìîëèòâû : prayer house, prayer hall, assembly hall, gospel hall) or obschii dom (îáùèé äîì : community hall, assembly) for a sobranie (ñîáðàíèå : meeting, gathering, assembly); similar to Gospel Hall brethren. Currently in Ivanovka, Azerbaijan, the term tserkva (öåðêâà : church) is being used during interviews with young reporters who typically do not know their Russian historical terminology.In Old Russia (before 1900) these three faith groups, and the Doukhobors* and others, historically called themselves Dukhhovnye khristiane (Äóõîâíûå õðèñòèàíå : Spiritual Christians). Similar to European Protestants, these groups opposed about 90% of Russian Orthodox Church (ROC, Pravoslanoi, Ïðàâîñëàâ íîé — “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 : åðåñåé), sektanty (cåêòàíòû : sectarians), sekty (cåêòû : 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 Doukhobors 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, ðàñêî́ëíèêè) — 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 probably described themselves by many terms in Russia in 1900 and upon immigration when they first met other faiths (tribes, bands), such as:
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 (Zion) are opposites in Prygun and Dukhizhizniki history. Some diaspora Dukhizhizniki in Los Angeles define Zion 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, 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.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.
Newspapers rarely specified which religious group or nationality they were reporting about as "the Russians," "the Russian colony," "the Russian community," "Russian Village," "Russian-town," "little Russia," "Russian Flats," 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 exclusively 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 Postoyannye, 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"
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, 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 (Ðóäîì¸òêèí) 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 solnstse 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 this new 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 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 a brain disorder.
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:
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 probably insisted upon. By naive habit and wide misuse, the definition broadened to include nearly all non-Orthodox immigrants from Russia — 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 Doukhobors 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 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 a mixture of nationalities 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 Doukhobor.
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 Russian colony never starting. The tycoon Huntington railroad and land family 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.
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 Prygun-etc. songbook: Ïѣñåííèêú (Pesennik), Ïî ñîãëîñiþ Ïðûãóíñêîé Äóõîâíîé Áðàòñòèì (Po soglasiyu Prygunskoi Dukhovnoi Bratstim : By agreement with the Jumper Spiritual Brotherhood).
In 1917, V. I. Holopoff, one of the pioneer Molokan 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." That year, 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. ("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 transformed into what became opposing and competing Dukhizhiznik faiths, which lacked a label for over 75 years.
The meeker 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,” projecting 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.
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 congregation did not preserve their sign or label after this front building was demolished about 2000, because it was not earthquake safe.
The Russian term Prygun remained on the first old cemetery sign (blow, 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.
At the newer Slauson Ave cemetery, the Prygun label only appears in public view in Russian on one sign (above right), but omitted in the English translation. 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 Jumper together is like saying dog-cat or banana-apple. Which do you really mean?
4. Is Molokan one faith, many faiths, an ethnic group, or a non-Russian nationality?
After a century of misuse in North America, the Russian term “molokan” has unfortunately lost it's original meaning regarding the original sectarians who accepted that label, 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, because you don't know the difference.
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 about 1980, the most popular definition narrowed to mean only the Dukhizhiznik faiths (Definition 3). These mistakes were transferred from the U.S. to the Soviet Union where the most zealous expanded it to label themselves a non-Russian nationality (Definition 5).
The misuses 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.
6 Definitions used for the term "Molokan"
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
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” (íàøè : 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,
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 1985
Ìîëîêàí Directory, though about half are
neither practicing Dukhizhizniki
nor Molokane by
affiliated with the "Molokan" label should be several
times larger than that estimate, in the year 2000,
perhaps 60,000+. for the population in the Former Soviet
Union, multiply by
Because zealots protested that ne nashi (outsiders)
were listed in the 1980
Ìîëîêàí 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 launched at the
opening of the Resident Center, Federoff briefly
confided 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 : íå÷èñòûå) 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 claimed they, by tradition, did not
believe in "membership" or worldly lists. In their
family tradition the Book of Life is a spiritual list
known only to God. Due to the competing hostilities, and
fears that government will intervene among the variety
of Dukhizhiznik faiths, it is probably
impossible to ever 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.
This seemingly silly question was discovered by Mike M.
while attending a U.M.C.A. summer camp in the Sierra-Nevada
Mountains. About 1974, 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.
It was a fascinating repeatable social experiment. Walk up to any 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.
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 as we backed away. How could they disagree about being Christian, and why?
Mike found a litmus-test
in which the Dukhizhiznik population
self-classified into 2 groups — practicing and social.
Which group was correct? They both were. Each had a
different point of view.
Today the "Podsakoff paradox" can be explained using
this Taxonomy. Practicing Dukhizhizniki,
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, ni nash friends, etc), typically
believe that "Molokans" (meaning Dukhizhizniki)
are not typical American Christians, and probably a
non-Christian sect or cult. Both groups mixed at the
U.M.C.A. in the 1970s. They did not clash because the
U.M.C.A. was self-forbidden ground for the most zealous
Dukhizhizniki, and the Christian faction, many of
them Y.R.C.A.-ers, was the majority.
In the 1980s, the more zealous practicing Dukhizhizniki
began forcing their social brethren away from the
U.M.C.A., and eventually purged their newly acquired
territory and grammar school of perceived heretics.
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 ni nash and at school for being
Russian. He questions the hypocrisy of his
father's heritage faith, and mean Christians anywhere. Between
two worlds and outside both, by Rasputin's love
child, ExChristian.net (7/22/2009), 42 comments. (Backup
copy.) Such abuses are more common than he knows.
mistaken use of the term "Molokan" for an ethnic group
or nationality must stop and be restored to the
original term (dukhovnye
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.
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.
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 some Dukhizhizniki, they will never all assemble in one meeting nor unanimously agree in a large group. Occasionally members of 2 different congregations met with me together. The 3 most zealous Maksimist congregations in Stavropol'skii krai avoided contact with me as is their policy with non-members of their congregation. The Dukhizhiznik label appears to be the best fit for their lexicon. (Send comments to <Adminstrator @ Molokane.org>) 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 : íàøè) or “believers [in the Dukh i zhizn']” (veruschy : âåðóøû) when Molokane or Pryguny were nearby.
The inside-outside (us-them) distinction is typical among many peoples around the world. For 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 Zionisty. 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, diaspora 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 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 Christian 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.
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 Pryguny. Anyway, they say the Molokane are like the Ford Model-T, but never modernized — are postoyannye (constant, 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, ... ) 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" («Òóðêåñòàí», 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 Wikipedia.org, 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
Similarly by substituting a few words in the description of ultra-Orthodox Haredi, a fair description for Dukhizhizniki is generated:
Dukhizhizniki areDukhizhizniki 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 (Wikipedia.org), 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 MolokansAn 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.
Instead, there is a host of separate assemblies
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?
The 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 shall 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 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, 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.
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, RF), 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 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.
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 (ni 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.
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 (äóõîâíûå õðèñòèàíå : Spiritual Christians).
If the diaspora in Los Angeles county, who only falsely call themselves Molokans, only stay in East Los Angeles county, never attend services in San Francisco or 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. Molokan label forged by 2 people — Demens and Young — for different reasons
All the different Spiritual Christian faiths in Los Angeles that immigrated from Russia were soon 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 10-15 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' 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 came to Los Angeles from Russia as "Molokans." The false label stuck.
He did it to dispel fear and doubt. He whitewashed them all for promotion as one huge group of the most desirable White Protestant immigrants, neither anarchists nor fanatics. Actually, they were neither one faith group nor all desirable, and many were fanatics.
Demens was perfect for this sales task. He was Russian-born, educated, multilingual, well-traveled, well-read, successful in business, politically active, a writer, semi-retired, his grown kids were starting college, his wife was active in women's clubs, he was the local pundit for Russian news in the papers. Though born and christened Orthodox, his humanitarianism was Tolstoyan. He knew Russian and American culture, and what to avoid to guide them safely; and he was most eager to help.
He had first-hand experience with discrimination, racism and nationalism on 2 continents. He fled St. Petersburg, Russia, where hatred for outsiders, dissidents and foreign faiths was common. In the U.S., he first settled in the Confederate South, then co-built a railroad through central Florida, in the Deep South where nationalism and bigotry towards outsiders and Blacks (Negroes) and was most intense. Lynchings were most common. He knew that American Whites hated coloreds and foreigners, especially immigrants from south-eastern Europe. By 1885 he avoided the escalating Spanish-American War activity in Florida, cashed out his business and moved his young family to a citrus farm in west San Bernadino County, and established businesses in Los Angeles and nearby. He actively promoted life in booming Southern California with Progressivism.
He probably realized that White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) would be confused to hear the truth, that these immigrants were mixed dukhovnye khristiane from Russia, mostly Pryguny, Klubnikinisty, Maksimisty, with minor groups of Molokane, Subbotniki, Stundisti, Zionisty and Noviy israili, 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 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.
As they arrived, he lied and/or "stretched the truth" to help them arrive and stay amongst the fear that the city would be swarmed with more poor peasants, doubling the city population, with not enough food or places to live. He created a positive altruistic rumor that they were all safe "Molokans", not Doukhobor fanatics, not Russian Bolsheviks, and he had to quickly arrange contingency plans for receiving them and diverting most to other locations. The unconfirmed word "Molokan" facilitated making sense of a complicated scary situation, with ethnic tension. He needed to protect his immigrants as a group and dispel their perceived threat, and a potential panic. He undoubtedly knew that journalists would propagate the one-word easy-to-pronounce rumor and his definition.
Beginning in 1905, Demens greatly simplified the process by promoting them all as ONE group of new law-abiding citizens, 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," but he sincerely wanted to help them. Unfortunately there was more sizzle and little steak; mainly bones, gristle and fat.
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, personally knew about bigotry, 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, no matter what he did, many of the Spiritual Christians were not satisfied, fought among themselves, and eventually erased him from their oral history. After about 15 years Demens and his colleagues gave up trying to help these Spiritual Christians from Russia. But their simple marketing logo ("Molokan") remained.
In 1898 when he learned Doukhobors were leaving Russia, he invited them to Southern California while sugar tycoons tried to invite them to Hawaii, but plans were already made for settlement in central Canada beginning in 1899. He was very disappointed that Doukhobors 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 employed immigrants from Russia at his citrus farm in Alta Loma (40 miles east of LA), and in The Flat(s) at his lumber yard and commercial laundry. He also counseled them for jobs elsewhere and for land colonization. To prepare for a reported mass immigration of many tens of thousands of peasants from Russia, he organized a Russian-speaking welcoming committee and networked with government (including President Teddy Roosevelt), charities, and tycoons who owned banks, land and railroads (including I.W. Hellman, Senator W.A. Clark and H.E. Huntington).
He met other educated Russians in the Los Angeles area who shared concerns about aiding their immigrating countrymen (including de Blumenthals and Cherbak), and they all worked with the Rev. Dr. Dana Bartlett and the Bethlehem Institutes.
In mid January 1900 at his house in Los Angeles, Demens hosted a scouting party for the zealots 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 homestead land in the Dakotas.
In April 1900, news reported that Canada was making arrangements for 10,000 "Mollicans" to follow the Doukhobors to Canada — 35% more than the 7,411 Doukhobors who already arrived. (By 1930, more than 8800 Dukhoborsty arrived.) That same year, zealot Svobodniki who split from Doukhobors were denied to mass migrate to California, though many moved to the U.S. as individuals and some lived in Los Angeles. Later a colony of independent Doukhobors (edinolichniki) formed at Manteca in the San Joaquin Valley.
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. Samain and F.M. Shubin) planned to join Doukhobors in Canada (Berokoff, page 19), the second group of "independent" scouts (Agaltsoffs, Holopoff, Slivkoff) were probably personally invited to Los Angeles by Demens, though his name is absent from Berokoff's history.(Berokoff, page 20)
In 1901 disgruntled Svobodniki in Canada began to protest against the newly elected Canadian administration, and in 1902 they organized a well publicized march of 2000 (including many 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.
Demens became very concerned that factions of Spiritual Christians in Canada were misguided by their advisers and complained to their guides and to 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.
In December 1902, P.V. Verigin arrived in Canada. In 1903, the first of many nude protests by zealous goli svobodniki (nude free men) began in Canada. By 1918 Verigin announced that what immigrated as Dukhoborsty to Canada, were divided into 3 distinct major groups, and he tried to asked for police protection against the "nudes" which was ignored.
By Spring 1904 the first group of non-Doukhobor 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." No other label was used, not Molokan, not Prygun, not Sionist, not Davidist, not Israil, not Maksimist, etc.
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 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 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 Doukhobors 5 years earlier, still wanted cheap White labor, and most likely invited Demens to Hawaii in fall 1905.
To assure support from government, Demens contacted President T. 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" before them.
Notice 3 large groups settling in the West 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 Protestant faiths that were spelled something like : M-o-n-, whatever.
In July 1905, I.G. Samarin and de Blumenthal began negotiations to buy communal land in Baja California Norte, Mexico, which guaranteed military exception. The contract identified them as "Russian colonizers." They signed the contract in September 1905, 10 days before Demens first scouted Hawaii.
In September 1905, Demens visited Hawaii, and returned to Los Angeles to help negotiate a contract with the immigrants and a plantation on Kauai Island. In November 1905 Demens escorted F.M Shubin and M. Slivkoff (2 kinds of Pryguny) to Hawaii and back, praised the immigrants only as "Molokans"; and negotiated their contract with the Governor, the immigration commissioner, and plantation owner's representatives. The groups that went to Hawaii were led by a real Molokan, John Kurbatoff.
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.
In January 1906, Demens reported all "Molokanes" will move to Hawaii, abandoning Southern California, but others doubted those with good jobs will leave. 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 sign up, 16%) went on the first boat to Hawaii, of which about 34 (one-third, 31%) of the 110 were real Molokane. The majority stayed in Los Angeles, where zealots were anxious to earn money and return to Mt. Ararat. Shubin returned from Texas disappointed, then extensively scouted Mexico, and resided in Los Angeles until he died in 1933.
Both colonization groups (obschiny) in Hawaii and Mexico argued upon arrival, congregations from Russia 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., but those who immigrated directly to Mexico were stuck with no passport. Some who crossed the border illegally were arrested.
The situation in Hawaii offered more land but a year's wait was needed to process homesteads in Washington D.C., which confused most immigrants who already got fast easy charity in booming metropolitan Los Angeles. In Hawaii they 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 (land now worth $ billions). Since F.M. Shubin did not return with them, M.S. Slivkoff was the only "Moses" for these 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. and divided, forming 3 groups.
In Hawaii on the day of arrival, the mother of a baby who died during the trip wanted to go back. It was hot, humid and windy. Bugs were everywhere. Their camp shacks were trashed by Japanese workers ordered to vacate. Familiar vegetables for borshch were not available. 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 "Molokans" 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 some were worth hiring.
Within 6 months all returned to California from Hawaii — most Molokane staying in San Francisco, and the rest (mostly varieties of Pryguny) 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. Many professed Maksim Rudomyotkin is their leader, which would become the focus of graduate student Pauline Young's masters thesis 20 years later.
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 (mostly Pryguny) were diverted to Mexico, a fourth (mostly Molokane) to Northern California, a few returned home to Russia, and the largest fraction (mixed Spiritual Christians, few Molokane)were content with the LA slums — their new poly-ethnic enclave.
Demens and associates probably directed more zealous communalists to land agents. For those wanting to stay in the city, Demens assured work for men in his lumber yard and mill shop, and for women in his nearby laundry; or guided them to other jobs. Many girls were placed as maids and house-cleaners in mansions, some in Pasadena. Schools and parks took care of the kids and babies, dawn to dusk, to while both parents worked.
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 Angles. In 1910 the last attempt to arrange an offer from Huntington for
Readers could expect that 2000 immigrants will vanish as quickly as they arrived, which did not somewhat happen until the bride-selling scandal began in 1911.
When the Hawaii colony failed, Mexico ceased to attract, and no other locations were chosen, the best Demens and associates could do was help them get jobs in the city and integrate.(19) After 1908 the Flat(s) were cleared of shanty slums and new homes constructed which wage earners could afford to rent or buy. Many moved south of the Flat(s) closer to Demens' businesses to live in cheap dirt-floor shantys along Fickett street, south of Whittier Blvd (then Stevenson Blvd) to 8th street. This area became Karakala.
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.
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 they were comfortably isolated in a foreign county. Demens, and associates de Blumenthals and Cherbak, tried very hard to help the immigrants for about a decade, but these immigrants were too diverse, resistant, some probably stubborn, and most efforts failed.
In 1910, 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. It was damaged by fire, and relocated to a larger lot a half block south of 1st Street on Boyle, where it remains today. At the end of a 1910 nationally publicized effort to provide a safe haven for all Spiritual Christians in North America in a huge colony in Central California failed, In 1911 a much more publicized bride-selling scandal erupted and lasted for almost 3 years, which scared many zealots from the city with apparently no guidance from Bartlett or Demens. From 1911 to 1915, the "Molokan" label became nationally associated with "bride-selling." In 1912, the first registered marriage occurred, while the most zealous continued to not register up to 1920.
About 1911, Cherbak moved to San Francisco Bay Area to work with Molokane and other Russians there while his family stayed on his farm next to Demens, de Blumenthals returned to Chicago, and Demens took a trip to Russia. 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 did to help these immigrants failed.
In 1914 the Bethlehem Institutions were closed by a new city charity commission for mismanagement, while the population of Spiritual Christians had shifted across the L.A. River, in the 9th ward, where the major congregations separated, each establishing their own meeting halls and stores, and different social services opened to provide aide.
By 1915 printing a holy ritual book engaged some of the zealots, a process that created about 4 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 1925-1926 with an analysis of the holy book(s) by Pauline Young.
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 "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.
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 Jumpers (Pryguny) from Russia in Los Angeles, but erroneously used the term "Molokan(s)" 1000+ times in print.
Her goals apparently were to assure they were not an anarchist political sect nor a religious cult; 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 assimilation and integration,(19) and to gather data for her husband's social science research on juvenile delinquency. Her work was thorough in some ways and shallow to non existent in others.
Though Young occasionally identifying them as Pryguny, even in the title of her book, she used the term Molokan(s) nearly exclusively in all of her publications and presentations about them; as did all scholars citing her publications. No evidence can be found that anyone ever questioned her reports or labeling, until here and now (year 2010). In 1969 I discussed the completeness of her thesis with a sociology professor at UCLA who knew the work; and though he agreed with me that it had "holes" and more research should be done, we did not discuss any specific errors or deficiencies.
Beginning in 1910 more housing, employment and social services became available in the Flat(s) (9th ward), which promoted migration eastward across the Los Angeles River, out of Bethlehem (8 ward). Congregations that had to meet together 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.
On the other hand, city life confronted Pryguny 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 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 appears to have gotten his Ph.D. in 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 US, 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 Doukhobor population was about 12,000. 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 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, Doukhobors 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 Doukhobors, causing P.V. Verigin to ask for a restraining order, which was ignored. The protestors were falsely called Doukhobors who were sometimes called Molokans.
After 1920, most of the distant rural colonies formed by Spiritual Christians, who fled or avoided, their Los Angeles enclave, failed mostly due to the post W.W.I. recession. Perhaps 2000 returned to Los Angeles where overcrowding, poverty, juvenile delinquency and truancy, crime, alcoholism, domestic violence, and other strife significantly increased in the Flat(s) area. This huge population increase occurred just after the 1919 California Red 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. These "Russians" were undoubtedly scrutinized for any anti-American behavior.
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 came to Los Angeles, and 10 years after most all had arrived from Russia. Most had been integrating and assimilating(19) for 15 years, and about 2000 poor failed colonists just arrived, which nearly doubled the Spiritual Christian population to more than 4,000 in the city.
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 population from Russia, concentrated in East Los Angeles (today called Boyle Heights), and continued in 1924 by student Wicliffe Stack ("Social Values of 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, her husband needed data on this cohort of juvenile delinquents, and the government had identified them as a social problem. 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, nearly every alien nationality in Los Angeles was scientifically documented.
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, they called Dukh i zhizn'.
Young finished her master thesis in 1925, 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. He was teaching at the University of Chicago where he promoted social mapping and data analysis, and at U.S.C. would soon became the national analyzer of data about urban juvenile delinquents, to which his wife would contribute 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 likely 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
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 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 (apparently on purpose, perhaps for convenience) calls them Molokans (at least 1500 times) in all her publications, lectures and news reports. She never met Molokane. Her mislabeling extensively spread the misnomer initiated by Demens 2 decades earlier, and continues up to this taxonomy. 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.
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). She used the "Molokan" terms to identify her subjects 44.5 times more than the Prygun terms (890/20 = 44.5), 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.
She mentions Postoyannye only once, referencing disinformation in the 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) Her ignoring the term suggests she did not understand it.
* 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 and were confirmed into a Dukhizhiznik faith. She did no know that Molokane in Los Angeles had no prayer hall or presbyter, which caused most to assimilate(19) while a minority tolerated Dukhizhiznik services, most of those joining the "Big Church."She 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) increases "Spirit and Life" terms to 58, 2.9 times (58/20=2.9) the Prygun terms. Of the 3 prophets/elders, Rudomyotkin is mentioned nearly twice as often as Klubnikin and Shubin combined (20/11=1.8).
Young uses the general broader term cluster of "brotherhood" and "sect" 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+376]/890 = .709).
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.
Closer examination, or a historical revision, shows that her subjects are Spiritual Christian Pryguny, as stated in her title, who use the book Dukh i zhizn', as described in the book. 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 sources. She does not understand that Postoyannye is a slang term used to dis Molokane, a different faith based in San Francisco. The data shows that Young overwhelmingly falsely presented Dukhizhizniki as Molokane.
Did she do this on purpose? If so, what was the purpose? These 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.
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 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 without a name, now known as Dukhizhiznik.
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. Dr. Erle Young's 1922 Ph.D. thesis is: "The Use of Case Method in Training Social Workers." Together they pioneered social research in urban juvenile delinquency. Perhaps her focus on juvenile delinquency limited a broader perspective.
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" labels.
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 — such as Pryguny or “Jumpers” in English, Sionisty 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. 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.
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 — the “Mother colony” in the Flats — 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 medical care, free child day care with baths, free county burials, free county court marriages, free education, free supervised playgrounds, free clubs, free supervised sports, free classes for adults by Russian-speaking teachers (English, general education, citizenship, cooking, sewing), free job training and placement, free advice (legal, colonization), low-cost convenient public transportation, urban entertainment, police and fire services, and 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 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 people 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:
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, Zionisty, 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.
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 to return 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. 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 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
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? Îí ÷åé?
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). Later, brother Jim returned to Russia to steal papers and strands of M.G. Rudomyotkin's hair from the St. Petersburg religious archive, artifacts which he believed spiritually belonged to his faith, and was arrested.
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. 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, 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 Believers, Pryguny and a new religion formalized in the U.S.— Dukhizhizniki — for many reasons.
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 (molokane.org) in the U.S.:
Spiritual Christian Dukhizhizniki
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 Doukhobors 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.
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, occasionally reading from an English Bible in the U.S. for non-Russian-speakers. Molokane do not use a songbook or prayerbook during worship, nor are these books on their altar table (ïðåñòîë : prestol ). Molokane may sing borrowed songs after prayer service on occasions such as weddings, funerals, and during 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 Dukh-i zhiznik songs. Song 181 (Sionskii pessennik) 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 the New Testament) and their own prayer books and song books. They are the only faith in the world which uses the Dukh i zhizn'. They display much more jumping, prophesy, and shout-singing than their predecessor Pryguny. Dukhizhniki song books evolved through several editions which collectively show over 1200 songs and verses, retaining many songs from the 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. Many congregations prefer songs composed by diaspora Dukhizhizniki, especially fast songs with mystical words and Western melodies conducive to jumping.
a – Open canon, can be modified by continuous revelation, in application similar to Latter Day Saint canons.
b – Most adapted from Russian folk songs and borrowed from German Protestants.
c – During meals at weddings, funerals, child dedication, holidays.
d – All Maksimisty are Dukhizhizniki, but not all Dukhizhizniki are Maksimisty.
Molokane, Pryguny, and Dukhizhizniki can most easily be differentiated by their religious holidays.
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 (ïðîòÿæíàÿ : 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 US after perestoika, their songs and styles clashed so much that the Armenians formed their own congregation in Australia, and in the U.S. many cannot sing with them.
2010-2020 Spiritual Christian Molokan Holiday Calendar in Russian (left) and English. (From Vest', 2009 Vol. 6, page 4)
A. Molokane — 10-11 holidays depending on congregation. The original religion of Dukhhovnye khristiane-molokane (Russian for: Spiritual Christian Molokans, Äóõîâíûå õðèñòèàíå-ìîëîêàíå) as organized by Simeon Uklein (many believe the religion preceded him), which separated from Ikonoborsty (image-wrestlers, iconoclasts) in the 1760s (some relabeled Doukhobors, “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), Ñîþç äóõîâíûõ õðèñòèàí—ìîëîêàí (ÑÄÕÌ), website: SDHM.ru), 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 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, Ìîëîêàícêèé ìîëèòâàíûé äîì). 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, ñòàðîïîñòîÿííèå) 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.
B. Pryguny, Dukhovnye — 10 holidays. Pryguny is Russian for “Jumpers” or “Leapers.” The full Russian label is dukhovnye khristiane-pryguny, äóõîâíûå õðèñòèàíå-ïðûãóíû, Spiritual Christian Jumpers. Today in Russia most call those in the same congregation who do not jump — dukhovnye (Russian for Spirituals, äóõîâíûå), 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 : ñóááîòíèêè), Russian Orthodox, Lyudi bozhii (People of God : Ëþäè Áîæèé), Novyi izrail' (New Israel : Íîâûé Èçðàéëü), Skoptsy (Castrates : Ñêîïöû), Shaloputy (Øàëîïóòû), 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 : ïîñòîÿííèå, 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 used as a modifier by Molokane to clarify that their faith is the 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 says; "famous original formula, accept no substitutes."
After 1992, visiting Dukhizhiznik women from California 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 : âîñêðåñåíèêè). 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 : ïîñòíè÷åñòâî), ecstatic dances (radenie : ðàäåíèå), jumping, skipping, walking in the spirit / in joy (khozhdenie v dukhe : õîæäåíèí â äóõå), and actions (deistviia : äåéñòâèÿ).
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 the Transcaucasus. While in monastery confinement in Suzdal, Maksim G. Rudomyokin (Rudometkin) was registered as prygun, and Shvetov was registered as molokan. (Sign text on 2 lines: "Íà÷àëüíèê ñåêòîâ ìîëîêàí Ñåì¸í Øâåòîâ 1835-1844 ãã. Íà÷àëüíèê ñåêòîâ êàâêàçñêèé ïðèãóíîâ Ìàêñèì Ðóäîì¸òêèí 1860-1877 ãã".)
Pryguny divide their holidays into “God's holidays” and “Christ's holidays” (Russian: Prazdniki Gospodni i Khristovy, Ïðàçäíèêè Ãîñïîäíè è Õðèñòîâû). 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 : Ñèîíñêèé ïåñåííèê) 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.
** Ñêèíîïèãèÿ (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 (UMCA, 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 USCM (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.
3. Dukhizhizniki — 5-6 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' ; Êíèãà ñîëíöå, äóõ è æèçíü).
Dukhizhizniki evolved from a few Prygun congregations, 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 Prygun 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 Áðàòñêié Ñîþçú Äóõîâíûõú Ïðûãóíîâú (Bratskii Soiuz Dukhovykh Prygunov : Fraternal Union of Spiritual Jumpers), but in the introductory pages the misnomer Molokan is used.
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, ìàêñèìèñòû), 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: Óòðåííÿÿ çâåçäà (Utrennyaya zvezda : Morning Star), then published a Prayerbook (Russian: Molitvennik, Ìîëèòâåííèêú), 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 (îáðÿäíèêè : ritual, ceremony books).
After 4(?) revisions, the final and current version of the Dukh i zhizn' was published in 1928 (758 pages) in Los Angeles by «Áðàòñêié Ñîþçú Äóõîâíûõú Ïðûãóíîâú» (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.
Not to be overruled, M. P. Pivovaroff purchased many copies and inserted his own 30-page section, pages 759-788, with his his signature at the end. This immediately created a 2nd edition/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 Äóõ è æèçíü (Dukh i zhizn' ) to Êíèãà ñîëíöå, äóõ è æèçíü (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 to pejoratively imply 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. 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. Shubin expanded his influence by publishing more books and web pages supporting his versions of Dukhizhiznik history.
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: (a) to avoid being confused with indigenous American Petecostal “Holy Jumpers” who were being bullied; (b) to camouflage their embarrasing 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 estatic 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.); (c) 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; (d) a false belief that the Molokan faith perished in Russia and in San Francisco, hence the label was free for false use without opposition; (e) a failed attempts to follow their prophesy back to the base of Mount Ararat in 1939; and (f) to appease Molokan and Prygun families to join their “true” faith by using a neutral label. By the 1940s, an effort to unify all denominations in the U.S. created a new five-word nonsense 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) and their Prygun holidays.
In the 1950s, immigrant Pryguny who arrived in Los Angeles from Iran (Persia) were rejected by locally established Dukhizhizniki until they placed the Dukh i zhizn' on their table and abandoned half of their holidays. American Dukhizhizniki who attended their "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 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.
Dukhizhizniki 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):
In Los Angeles Maksimist and Prygun-etc. families maintained their tradition of a customary "bride price" (kalym : Êàëûì) 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. 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.
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 (USSR), Armenia (SSR) 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, SDKM. The most zealous congregations in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) reject all diaspora Dukhizhizniki for abandoning their motherland, the prophesy to stay near Mout Ararat, other prophesies and communal traditions; living in cities; using ekrany (ýêðàíû : display screens, TV, movies, computers). In opposition, many Dukhizhizniki in the diaspora reject those in the FSU 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 SDKM 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.
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
Ðåëèãèîçíûå òå÷åíèÿ è ñåêòû. Ñïðàâî÷íèê (Directory of religious denominations and sectarians)
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)...
The chart below shows a simple holiday taxonomy of Spiritual Christian Molokane, Pryguny and Dukhizhizniki.
|Holiday (Christ's, God's)1||Group|
(*character set = Windows-1251)
|1 Bible reference
(more can be found)
(Passion Week, Easter)
|Mark 16:1-8; Acts 1:9||
|Acts 2, Leviticus 23:16-23||
|(Memorial, Blowing of) Trumpets***
Pamiat Trub, Ïàìÿò Òðóá
|Fast Day of Atonement***
Post Sudnyi Den', Ïîñò Ñóäíûé Äåíü
|Festival of Shelters/Booths*** 4
Feast of Tabernacles
Kuschei, Kuscha, Êóùåé, Êóùà
Urozhai, zhatva : Óðîæàé, æàòâà
(3-Day Fast, Thanksgiving4)
|Birth of Christ,
Rozhdestvo Khrista, Ðîæäåñòâî Õðèñòà
(Christmas Eve Youth Program,
Christmas Day Service5)
|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
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
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
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”;
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
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
to abandon Christ's Holidays or be labeled
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
|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
|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
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
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: Ïðàçäíèê
Ñáîðà Óðîæàÿ èëè Ïðàçäíèê Êóùåé [ÄÁ34] (Christian
Churches of God, Australia, who may be descendants of 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
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 /Ã/ (/g/). Those indoctrinated for generations by the most zealous diaspora Dukhizhizniki evolved an over-stress (strongly voiced) in their pronunciation dialect; for example, ãäå (gde : where) became õåäå (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 Doukhobor oral history reported a belief, adapted from Church Slavonic, that God recognizes his chosen people who pronounce /Ã/ (/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.
The last 2 examples above appear in the Lord's prayer, which has been updated, reinterpreted and retranslated over time.
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.
|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 USCC 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.
|10.||Popoff, Eli A., "Stories from Doukhobor
History, Part 8," Iskra, issue #2067, June 1,
2013, page 13.
Peasant Religion and Its Repression: The Christ-Faith
[Kristovshchina] and the Origin of the 'Flagellant'
Myth, 1666-1837." Ph.D dissertation, University of
|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
antiecclesiastical 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,
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,
to stay in Russia while Pryguny fled
with other zealous sects who also falsely assumed a
disguise as Molokane upon arrival.
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 Postoyannye was used once
in Young, P.V. Pilgrims of
Russian-town (1932), and 16 times in Berokoff,
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.
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.||äóõîáîðöû (Russian: dukhobortsty),
Duchobortzi, Dukhobor, Dukabar, Douk, Doukhobour,
Doukhobour, Doukhobor (most common English),