Taxonomy of 3 Spiritual Christian groups:
Molokane, Pryguny and Dukh-i-zhizniki
books, communion, songs, holidays and prophets

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In-Progress: (Updated 18 August 2013) Comments, corrections welcome Administrator @ Molokane. org

After a century of misuse, the Russian term molokan(1) unfortunately has several very different confused meanings
  • the original correct term for the single actual Spiritual Christian Molokan faith,
  • a somewhat widely used incorrect term for nearly all Spiritual Christian faiths (non-Orthodox, sectarians*) that migrated to North America, and
  • sometimes incorrectly used for any dissident peasant in Russia.(2)
The terms dukhovnye khristiane, Spiritual Christians or sectarians* should be used when generally referring to the non-Orthodox, non-Jewish, non-Muslim and similar faiths in Old Russia whose ancestral ethnicity may be a mixture of Russian, Tatar, Ukrainian, Armenian, Mordvin, Chuvash, Finn, German, etc. The term Molokan should be used only for members of the registered Molokan faith.
The purpose of this page is to explain how and why the incorrect misnomer of Molokan was created, transformed and misused; and to present an empirical classification system for the 3 Spiritual Christian groups (1) Molokane (founded 1765), (2) Pryguny (1833) and (3) Dukh-i-zhizniki (1928).  Please use these terms in respect, as a standard. Other Spiritual Christian (non-Orthodox, sectarian*) groups with origins in Old Russia that resettled in North America (Adventisty, Baptisti, Doukhobory, Evangeliki, Pyatidesyatniki, Subbotniki, Svobodniki, etc.) are not the focus of this taxonomy, though they are also sometimes mislabeled as "Molokan" along with other faiths.

* "Sect" and "sectarian" as derived from the Latin secare, meaning "to cut or cut off."
Russian / English (Italic)





enPR mä-lō-kän'
IPA mɑ.loʊ.kɑn'

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

These 3 Spiritual Christian groups are easily identified by their characteristic liturgies.

Dukh i zhizn' Christ's God's Yes




* Most adapted from Russian folk songs and borrowed from German Anabaptists
** After services at weddings, funerals, child dedication, holidays.

  1. Introduction
  2. Spiritual Christian Groups
  3. Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians in 1902, 1904, 1907
  4. Is Molokan one faith, many faiths, an ethnic group, or a non-Russian nationality?
  5. Three Faiths
  6. New Label : Dukh-i-zhizniki
  7. Analogies
  8. Molokan Label Falsified For Many Reasons
  9. Name Confusion
  10. Web sites by and about Spiritual Christians
  11. Classification
  12. Other Classification Systems

1. Introduction

This Taxonomy attempts to answer the question : Why do thousands of people around the world who are not Molokan by faith, many despising Molokane and non-members, oddly also claim the same label?

This Taxonomy presents a simple historically-based classification system to define the confused groups, many who for a century have wrongfully claimed to ALL be "Molokans."

Dukhovnye khristianemolokane ( - : Spiritual Christian Molokans) is a registered religion with an international organization and headquarters in Russia. Members of this organization are officially internationally recognized as Molokans (Molokane).

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Phone: 8-86550-22640 (youth news, events, history) (archive, journals, songs) (news, history, blog)
. (genealog , congregations)

  (Vest' : News)

Union of Spiritual Christian Molokan Congregation (photo, maps)
67 Shkol'naya street
Kochubeevskoe town
Kochubeevskii district
Stavropol'skii territory
Russian Federation

Molokane (founded ~1765) are the oldest and most organized of these 3 Spiritual Christian groups. Molokane have a central hierarchy, published contacts on the Internet, meetings, conventions, buildings, interfaith representation, and a long a history of publications.

In contrast, the Prygun (founded ~1833), Dukh-i-izhiznik (founded ~1928) and many other non-Orthodox sectarian faiths that mislabeled themselves, or are mislabeled by others, as "Molokans" are fragmented evolved varieties of non-Molokan faiths. They have no uniform liturgy, no central office, no public phone number, no official representatives or organization, no official website or centralized world-wide network, and no current general publications. 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, even if they they personally know you, or are required by law. About the best contact an outsider can get is from one or a few individuals, who may only speak unofficially and/or in secret. An outsider may be immediately turned away, treated like an intruder at a private meeting for members only. They have little inter-faith tradition or charity, or public communication among congregations. The most zealous diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki express group behavior similar to a selfish herd and an "introversionist sect." (Wilson, Bryan R. Religious Sects: A Sociological Study, 1970, pages 120-122.)

Click to ENLARGEThe relatively few non-Molokan Spiritual Christians who migrated to North America, compared to those who stayed in Russia, took the Russian name of the Molokan faith for a variety of reasons, mainly:
  • to falsely claim that their various faiths were given religious freedom by the Tsar in 1805;
  • to claim to be the Molokane named by Lev Tolstoy in his internationally published petitions to the Tsar, to either give religious freedom to sectarians or allow them to emigrate; and
  • to hide their various secret faiths, to avoid discrimination and deportation.
Now they are free to have a meaningful unique descriptive name: Dukh-i-zhizniki, since 2007.

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) or other terms; but the Russian Orthodox Church, government, historians and journalists called them sektanti  and described them by various alleged characteristic heresies (eresi) and traits strigol'niki (shearers, cutters), khlysty (whips), dukhobortsy (spirit/ spirits/ soul-wrestlers/ strugglers/ fighters/ champions/ warriors), pryguny (jumpers), skakuny (skippers, leapers), molokane (milk-drinkers), Maksimisty (followers of Maksim), Ilin'sty (followers of Ilin'), Popovtsy (followers of Popov), kvarkeri (Quakers), mormoni (Mormons) etc. 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 counters 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 policies for governing them.

In Old Russia, the term molokan often generally referred to any dissident:
  • The term zamolokanil ( : 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 struggling a struggle against the Church under the name of "Molokans." (Popoff, Eli A., "Stories from Doukhobor History, Part 8," Iskra, issue #2067, June 1, 2013, page 13.)
In 1805 the Spiritual Christian Molokane were given religious freedom in a decree (order, Russian: ukaz) Petition to the Tsar Aleksander Pavlovich, July 12, 1805. Other Spiritual Christian faiths were not named in this decree. Freedoms for Subbotniki were given in a separate decree, and Dukhobory and Molokane got separate degrees for settlement territory. There is no comprehensive study of  Further research is needed to document decrees for other sectarian faiths.

The Spiritual Christian Pryguny-Skakuny (Jumpers-Leapers), a different heresy faith labeled in the mod-1850s about 80 years after the Molokan label appeared, whose members often lived near and recruited other Spiritual Christians and other faiths, probably also wanted this same freedom of religion for themselves and 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."

It was common for exiled sectarians, even 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. (See Breyfogle's 1998 PhD thesis, pages 271+) The 1897 Russian census counted Pryguny as a separate group. Many times Pryguny testified to the government and reporters that they were not Molokane. Some Dukh-i-zhizniki today hate Molokane for reporting that their Prygun ancestors impersonated Molokane, and some diaspora hate this Taxonomy you are now reading because it reveals their secret identity and gives them a meaningful label.

The "ethnic Molokan" misnomer arose again in the United States immediately upon immigration beginning in mid-1904 among a few thousand mixed Russian dukhovnye khristiane, mostly Pryguny, Klubnikinisty, Maksimisty, with minor clusters of Molokane, Subbotniki, Stundisti, Zionisty and Novie Israeli, and others, who were all falsely collectively presented as Molokane  not by their separate actual Spiritual Christian faiths, nor by their collective label: "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians." The easy-to-pronounce, single Russian word (Molokan) was mainly used by outsiders to simplify the process of reporting about them, and selling them all as one group of cheap White labor and ideal colonist settlers to get them out of Los Angeles or to divert them from entering the city in large groups.

Upon learning English, many who lived in the immigrant slum-ghetto in Los Angeles became afraid and ashamed to be known by their actual Russian faiths such as Pryguny or Jumpers in English, Zionisty 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 the correct general term Spiritual Christian faded from popular usage, perhaps sounding too "American" by WWII when the most zealous Russian-born believed a return to Ararat was still possible.

Before arriving in America, the leaders of the Spiritual Christian immigrants borrowed a term used in Russia by neighboring German Anabaptists and Spiritual Christian Community Doukhobors "Brotherhood" to present themselves in America as the "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians." Soon the Pryguny with others differentiated themselves as the "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christian Jumpers." The most zealous Spiritual Christian prophets, and those aspiring to remain in America, feared that their faiths must be concealed from non-believers as in Russia, so they took advantage of journalists' and land agents mistakes to camouflage their identity using the new English word "Molokan" in place of Maksimist, Zionist, Novie Israel, Prygun, Jumper, Holy Jumper, etc.

In contrast to those in Los Angeles, Pryguny who moved to San Francisco maintained their original Russian religious identity as "Holy Jumpers" with no shame into the 1960s when their meeting hall was sold, and they merged with Molokane. And in San Francisco, all the non-Orthodox Russian congregations on Potrero Hill joined in purchasing their shared Russian Sectarian Cemetery, in Colma, properly named to show that they were all not Orthodox faiths.

After 1928, the most zealous Spiritual Christians in Southern California and Arizona, not Molokane, insisted that all their faiths and the faiths of other Spiritual Christians must be converted to Dukh-i-zhizniki (people who use the ritual book: Kniga solnste, dukh i zhizn'). The new book created a family of somewhat similar religions haphazardly formalized in America. They had no simple one-word name for their secret faiths, nor wanted one. They gathered in separate assemblies and could never agree to unite or submit to any secular (temporal)* hierarchy. [* Definition #3. Of or relating to the material world, as opposed to spiritual.] In retrospect, they could have called themselves something like "Spirit and Lifers" in English and peacefully divided from the Molokane and Pryguny. Instead, they insisted on dominating all congregations of Pryguny in which Molokane, if any, were a minority.

The most zealous Dukh-i-zhizniki in America exported the "Molokan" misnomer by sending their ritual books to the Soviet Union and Turkey beginning in the 1930s where many Maksimisty adapted the Dukh-i-zhiznik ritual books, and inferred from the American book that they were a non-Russian nationality(3) of Molokane, though definitely not of what they believe is the "false" Molokan faith. Scholars, like Klibanov and Young, who used the Kniga solnste, dukh i zhizn' as a reference confused the various faiths along with most all who cited these and other scholars. In the 1900s, only two scholars in America accurately labeled the separate faiths among immigrants from Old Russia Sokoloff (1918) and Speek (1921). All scholars missed the fact that users of the Kniga solnste, dukh i zhizn' formed a new faith based on their new book, though scholars sometimes used the term Maksimisty which they learned from Pryguny who differentiated themselves from Dukh-i-zhizniki.

In the 1950s, the Prygun congregations were mostly exterminated in Southern California and Arizona by Dukh-i-zhizniki but continued in the Soviet Union, Mexico, San Francisco and Turkey. In the US, Pryguny who immigrated from Iran (Persia) to Los Angeles were harassed by dominant Dukh-i-zhizniki, unless they converted to a Dukh-i-zhiznik faith. In 1957 in Los Angeles, Pryguny from Iran held their Rozhestvo holiday at the Young Russian Christian Association (YRCA) clubhouse (Ditman Ave at I-5 Freeway), whose young members unsuccessfully tried to advocate for their acceptance. By the mid-1960s, Prygun congregations survived only in the Soviet Union.

In 1991 Molokane in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) reestablished as a registered faith. Some Prygun congregations in the FSU registered with the Molokane to gain official status, but Dukh-i-zhizniki did not. By 2000, about 90% of the descendants of Spiritual Christians around the world had abandoned practicing their heritage faiths. In 2005, not one Dukh-i-zhiznik attended the 200th Anniversary of Religious Freedom communal meeting in Stavropol' province, Russian Federation, hosted by the Molokane.

In 2007 most Dukh-i-zhiznik 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 them. 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, Subbotnik, or Dukhobor, rather as Dukh-i-zhiznik. No other identity label was suggested, nor has been submitted.

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 when used, will always need an awkward and confusing explanation, presented as a compound term: Original Molokan, Jumper-Molokan, Molokan-Jumper, Charismatic Molokan, Molokan-Prygun, Constant-Molokan, Maksimist-Molokan, Molokan-Molokan. The 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. 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 Former Soviet Union (FSU) to build meeting halls.

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 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.

Of all the faiths who call themselves Molokane, only the official international Molokan organization youth host a Molokan website Many temporary websites were started by Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 webpages, many about Dukh-i-zhiniki who claim to be Molokane.

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 Dukh-i-zhiznik(i). In respect, and for honesty in journalism and scholarship, please use these 3 simple terms as a standard.
  1. Proper transliteration from Russian ( - ) into English : Molokan (singular) - Molokane (plural). Many spelling variations and typographical errors occur in English print (47 counted): Holokano, Malacan, Malakane, Malakani, Malakany, Malakanys, Mallakus, Malikoffs,Malokan, Molakani, Molakanes, Molakanis, Molicans, Moliken, Molkanes, Molkans, Mollakane, Mollakin, Mollican, Mollikan, Molliken, Molloccan, Molocan, Molochan,* Molochani,* Molokai (Hawai'ian island), Molokaian, Molokana, Molokanas, Molokanen, Molokanes, Molokani, Molokanis, Molokanist, Molokano,  Molokany, Molokanye, Moloken, Mo lokhan, Molokhans, Molokone, Molokons, Moloknes, Molowakan, Mookans,Mullican, Mullikens ...   Other languages have variant spellings Turkish : Malakan, Malakanlar (plural); Spanish (Mexico) Molakanos (plural), French : Les Moloque, German : Der Molokanen,
    * The variant "Moloch(s)" was used to accuse Dukh-i-zhizniki near Los Angeles of Satanic Child Abuse in 1985.

  2. "Confusion as to the nature of ethnicity often results from the lack of an adequate typology of ethnic groups and identities." Definitions And Dimensions Of Ethnicity, The Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples, by Wsevolod W. Isajiw, on Multicultural Canada. Here we go a step further to fully examine the definition confusion and untangle it, providing comprehensive explanation of these definitions.

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

2.  Spiritual Christian Groups

Over 250 ethno-religious congregations of Spiritual Christians around the world today that are too often mis-labeled as "Molokan" are actually of 3 different religious groups 2 denominations of Molokane and Pryguny; and a diverse denominational family of Dukh-i-zhizniki. The mistake sometimes is 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 easily identified by location.

Dukh i zhizn' Christ's God's Yes




* Most adapted from Russian folk songs and borrowed from German Protestants. 
** After services at weddings, funerals, child dedication, holidays.

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, as common in English, which are 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. Because their faith was illegal, most were not allowed to have separate prayer buildings, a notable exception was in Blagoveschensk where Molokane dominated the economy and politics. They usually met in the largest houses or, when possible, a molitvenyi dom ( / : prayer house, prayer hall, assembly hall, gospel hall) or obschii dom ( : community hall, assembly) for a sobranie ( : meeting, gathering, assembly); similar to Gospel Hall brethren. Currently in Ivanovka, Azerbaijan, the term tserkva ( : church) is being used during interviews with young reporters who typically do not know their Russian historical terminology. The most significant semantic translation shift in the U.S. is that the Russian term Molokan is never translated in a title or legal document as Milk-Drinker, but Prygun is translated as Jumper on many legal documents, while never using the Russian term. Since these faiths originated in Russia, the transliterated Russian terms should be used exclusively to preserve their original Russian meanings, especially when the English meaning and usage deviates from the Russian.
In Old Russia (before 1900) these three faith groups, and the Doukhobors* and others, historically called themselves Dukhhovnye khristiane ( : Spiritual Christians). Similar to European Protestants, these groups opposed about 90% of Russian Orthodox Church (ROC, Pravoslanoi, 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 : ), sektanty (c : sectarians), sekty (c : 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.

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 examples: Luidi Bozhe (God's People, People of God) versus Khlysty (Whips, Flagellants, self-castigators), or Dukhobortsy* (fighters or strugglers against the spirit, versus wrestlers with the spirit, spirit-wrestlers).

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, ́) Starovery (Old Believers), or 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).

After the failure of the Molokan Settlement Association in Hawaii, "Molokans" were ridiculed as "Adullamites," a "primitive Christianity" and "worthless," among many.

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 Russian Spiritual Christian immigrants in Los Angeles probably described themselves by many terms in Russia in 1900 and upon immigration when they first met other faiths, such as:
  1. Baptisty (Baptists)
  2. Davidisty, (followers of David Evseich Bulgakov)
  3. Dukhoborstsy (Spirit-wrestlers)
  4. Evangelisty (Evangelicals)
  5. Iconobortsy (Iconoclasts)
  6. Ierusalim (Jerusalem)
  7. Klistovstchina, Khlysty (Whips, Flagellates), same as 10
  8. Klubnikinisty (followers of E.G. Klubnikin)
  9. Zhidovstvuyushchiye (Judaizers)
  10. Lyudi bozhii (People of God), same as 7
  11. Maksimisty (followers of M.G. Rudomyotkin), same as 17
  12. Molokane (Milk-drinkers)
  13. Novomolokane (New Molokans, Presbyterians)
  14. Novyi izrail' (New Israel)
  1. Obshchei (Communal)
  2. Pryguny (Jumpers)
  3. Rudomyokinisty (Rudomyokinites), same as 11
  4. Skakuny (Leapers), similar to 16
  5. Staroobradsty (Old Ritualists)
  6. Staroverie  (Old Believers) same as previous
  7. Stundisty (Stundists-Presbyterians)
  8. Syny svobodnye (Sons of Freedom)
  9. Svobodniki (Freedomites) same as previous
  10. Svobodnye Khristiane   (Free Christians)
  11. Subbotniki (Sabbatarians, Saturday People)
  12. Tolstoyan (followers of Lev N. Tolstoy)
  13. Vodiyanie (water baptizers)
  14. Zion, Zionisty (Zion, Zionists)
  15. etc.
To report or imply that all these different immigrating Russian groups (above) are collectively one group of "Molokans" is non-sense, obviously not correct, but has unfortunately happened too many times, and continues.

Some of these labels (1-28 above) have specific meanings used only among the most zealous Dukh-i-zhizniki, while the meaning and use of other terms has been forgotten or obscured in their oral tradition. For one example, #6 (Ierusalem) and #28 (Zion) are opposites. Some diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki 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), in contrast with Ierusalem, the 99% who stayed in Russia. In contrast, many Maksimisty in Russia believe that those who left for America abandoned "their" Holy Land near Mount Ararat. In short, each conflicting faith believes they are "saved" and/or "chosen" in their own way in their own territory.
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, like: Quakers*, Shakers*, Mormons*, Jews*, nudists*, the holiness movement (Zion City, House of David, Burning Bush), Spiritualists, or queer (abnormal) apostolic religions in North America nick-named: Holy Jumpers, Holy Rollers, Flying Rollers, Holy Kickers, Tangled Tonguers, Holy Ghosters, Angel Dancers, Jerkers, Ranters, etc. All theses terms were in misuse and often abused and popularized by journalists when Spiritual Christians began to arrive in California in mid-1904 from Russia.
*  Similarly, each of these terms are simple misnomers used by outsiders as short, easy to pronounce, one-word labels for a general collection of faiths, most of which they do not personally know or fully understand:
    Quakers Religious Society of Friends, divided into major splits
    Shakers United Society of Believers in Christs Second Appearing. Now extinct.
    Mormons more than 10 denominations
    Jews 100s of groups divided by laws, categories, languages, nations, and controversies
    Nudists zealot faction of immigrant Doukhobors who maintained an absolute belief in independence from government. They were sensationalized for nude protests, burnings and bombings, resulting in a split from other Doukhobors in Canada. In the 1940s many adopted the label "Sons of Freedom." Now extinct.
Russian-speaking immigrants living in an urban cluster 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, Russian Orthodox, or Russian non-Orthodox-non-Jewish (includes : Spiritual Christians, Evangelical Christians, Baptist, Shtundist, Presbyterian, ...). By nationality many were not ethnic Russians, rather people who emigrated from Russia who were not "Russian."

Newspapers rarely specified which religious group or nationality they were reporting about as "the Russians," "the Russian colony," "the Russian community," "Russian-town," "little Russia," "Russian Flats," etc. In the early 1900s, only two researchers tried to document the distinction between these different immigrants from Russia Sokoloff (1918) and Speek (1921).

Widespread confusion resulted 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" more than 400 times in her book and nearly exclusively uses that term in articles, lectures in class and public, and testimony to government agencies. She never visited real Molokane in San Francisco, nor does she distinguish the faiths, yet she cited both Sokoloff and Speek.

In parallel with Young, another USC graduate student documented the Orthodox Russians in Los Angeles, then became a professor at Occidental College (George Martin Day, George Martin. The Russians in Hollywood: A Study in Culture Conflict. University of Southern California Press, 1934, 101 pages).

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 segregated or map all these various Russian-born clusters, 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 Russians 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, even siblings, among various faiths and by assimilation path brother marries Russian Baptist, sister marries zealous Dukh-i-zhiznik, brother marries Prygun but attends "American" Christian church. To label all these descendants as "Molokan" is obviously not correct usage of the religious term.

Discrimination of American Holy Jumpers
  • In April 1904, months before the first group of Spiritual Christian settlers from Russia (mostly Pryguny) arrived in Los Angeles, American Holy Jumpers at the Gospel Mission, 739 Kohler street, were persecuted by residents and by Los Angeles police. After many neighbors complained about disturbing the peace, a policeman threatened to dynamite their meeting. Though the policeman was reprimanded, the American Holy Jumpers were evicted from the church and denied (freedom of speech) city permits to preach on the street. Their location was 1 mile southwest of the Bethlehem Institutions that hosted many immigrants, including Spiritual Christians.
  • During May-June 1904, 8 families of about 40 Pryguny led by Vasili G. Pivovaroff arrived in Los Angeles. He only presented himself and group as a "Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians."
  • In August 1904 American "Holy Jumpers" groups were bullied out of San Bernadino and Redlands, California, which was reported several times in California newspapers. 
  • In January 1905, the Los Angeles news about a mass immigration from Russia and American "Holy Jumpers" intensified:
    • Jan 6 Police rescued a 16-year old Italian girl from the leader of the "Holy Jumpers" sect at 315 South Olive street, 1 mile east of the Bethlehem Institutions.
    • Jan 13 300,000 Russian Quakers coming to Los Angeles county (equal to the county population)
    • Jan 19 200,000 Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians, Molokane and Priguni, jumpers coming to Los Angeles (equal to the city population)
    • Jan 23 At (Orthodox) Russian headquarters on Western Ave, a secret Russian army of 200 prepared to return to Russia to protect the Tsar.
    • Jan 25 Noisy American "Holy Jumpers" were reported disturbing the peace during frequent gatherings at the new Apostolic Faith Mission, 312 Azusa Street (1/2 block southeast of San Pedro and 1st streets), about 1/2 mile southwest of the Bethlehem Institutes.
    • Jan 27 "Advance Guard of 15,000 ... 'Molokane' ... Colonize Here"... 200,000 total ...
  • In February-March 1905, for 6 weeks 2000 American evangelicals marched through the East-side slums to save the sinners and wayward Christians. 400+ Russian Spiritual Christian immigrants witnessed the events as more arrived from Russia. Bethlehem Institutes hosted the marchers.
  • In July 1906 the Los Angeles Express reported: ".. Holy Rollers contemplate making sacrifices of children, to appease the wrath of God, .. timid women are keeping close watch over their little ones ..."  
  • Hostility against charismatic spiritual jumping religions was reported in major California newspapers for decades, and re-surged several times since, each time causing the urban Dukh-i-zhizniki to further hide their identities.
The many people who would soon host the announced hundreds of thousands of Russian Spiritual Christian Prygun immigrants must have been aware that many Americans hated "Holy Jumpers," and advised them not to use that term in English. Yet, the most zealous members of Spiritual Christian faiths insisted on calling themselves Pryguny and "Holy Jumpers" in the news for more than 50 years.

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 Pryguny-etc. 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 Pryguny-etc. attended American evangelical Christian services in local churches and tents, praying and jumping with Negroes, often with translation from English to Russian. Interfaith visits occurred. The Prygun-etc. immigrants learned that others in this new world also shared their beliefs about manifestations of the Holy Spirit (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, their zealous rural peasant heritage clashed with government and urban life.

Many wanted to return home where they had freedom from mandatory education, freedom to arrange marriages, freedom from registered marriages, freedom to sing loud and jump all night, and clusters of rural villages of relatives with whom they dressed as Russian peasants and many lived for generations near Mt. Ararat praying for their Apocalypse. Most important for Maksimisty was their prophesy to join both their leader M.G. Rudomyotkin () and Jesus Christ on Mt. Ararat or to be buried nearby.

Their most zealous prophet in Los Angeles, Afonasy T. Bezayeff, became alarmed about news of the San Francisco earthquake and 3-day fire, and after seeing many drunks and destitute people in the Los Angeles courthouse during his son's court hearing, Bezayeff prophesied an earthquake. He ordered all Spiritual Christians in Los Angeles to flee to the mountains. Public health authorities intervened preventing a mass panic. Later he was alarmed of the mixing of cultures in Los Angeles and, while standing on a pile of lumber at a lumberyard where he worked (possibly in San Pedro), declared (prophesied) that all Pryguny-etc. 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. Some believed their new book replaced the New Testament.

Was it Bezayeff who prophesied to burn all photographs? My grandmother Sasha Shubin reported watching people in the Flats 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 Russian Spiritual Christian youth needed a neutral unique identity to facilitate their assimilation and integration, mediate hostility against strange religions and foreigners, and prevent deportation as was done to 100s of unwanted poor Russian Jews, Russian Bolsheviks, and other "undesirable immigrants." The term Molokan was undoubtedly selected its for its neutrality and uniqueness by those who chose to maintain their ancestral Russian religious dogma even though they were not Molokan by faith. They did not use the English translation, Milk-Drinker, which was probably also confusing if used for a group identity; rather they kept the Russian term and changed its definition to a very broad term applied to nearly all non-Orthodox Russian immigrants depending on the usage hijacking the word for more than a century.

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 Dukh-i-zhizniki 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. It will no longer be a secret. They will have to define it by explaining their secret book. 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. Dukh-i-zhizniki have no need to hide any longer, except those who remain indoctrinated with fear and believe they must obey their old  prophetic order to hide from the world, while ignoring the fact that they 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).

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. Their leader 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."

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.

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) 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?

The single false one-word fabricated brand name of Molokan greatly simplify representing the diverse herd of Spiritual Christian immigrants to the government and businesses for colonization, especially when accompanied by a false description that they all were meek, frugal, hard-working, strong, honest, temperant (don't drink, smoke, gamble), Christian peasant farmers, who will become ideal citizens. Neither their Russian-American advisers nor their American advisers ever called them Jumpers or Pryguny in the press or correspondence (found yet), though many Pryguny-etc. insisted on that term and other terms for themselves to show they were not of one faith, or united. Reporters and land agents were confused about what to call them, and many simply referred to them as "Russians," though some were not ethnic Russians. More confusing, from 1904 through the 1920s, the press reported as many as 5 different Russian colonies in the Los Angeles area, as if they were all the same people, mixing Russian Jews, Russian Orthodox, Slavs and the many diverse varieties of Spiritual Christians. The first and only approximate faith census was conducted from 1915-1918, by Home Teacher Lillian Sokoloff, to plan for integrating them for citizenship.

Those who tried to report about or help these Spiritual Christians were always confused. Before and during immigration they were called "Russian Quakers" which attracted a delegation of real Quakers to inspected them and report. Though Pryguny followed some Jewish traditions, Jews rejected them and they should not be confused with Russian Jews; nor should they be confused with Russian Bolsheviki or anarchists who were being deported; nor with their historically related Spiritual Christians in Canada who split from Doukhobors and were protesting nude against the Canadian government and petitioning to move to the U.S. and Mexico. They should also not be perceived as a problem sect like the much discussed Mormons, many of whom already moved to Mexico for religious freedom, and whose short label also started with "Mo-" and was spelled somewhat similarly. Those assimilating in Los Angeles did not want to be confused with American Holy Jumpers, though many were attracted to and joined these emerging American charismatic Pentecostal faiths.
Companies which invested in large agricultural colonies for these Russian immigrants 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 in Central California 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, but gave up. In Arizona there were 4 congregations up to 1920, and 2 until about 1950. In the 1930s there was a failed effort to unite all in Los Angles 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki 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: ѣ (Pesennik), i (Po soglasiyu Prygunskoi Dukhovnoi Bratstim : By agreement with the Jumper Spiritual Brotherhood).

In 1917, V.I. Holopoff, one of the pioneer Molokan migration scouts, 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." 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?

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 Dukh-i-zhiznik 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki, integrated 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 people. 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 "prayer hall" or "meeting."

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

Click to
Sign on "Big Church" assembly hall, 1951.
Los Angeles Examiner, September 24, 1951, 

After 1933, the label Spiritual Jumpers 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 their front building was demolished about 2000.

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.

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

At the newer Slauson Ave cemetery, the Prygun label only appears in public view in Russian on one 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.

This label camouflage resulted in nearly all practicing diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki descendants being misled to believe they are Molokane by their ancestors who immigrated as Pryguny, and brand-jacked the label Molokan while they transformed into a faith opposing Molokane, using the book: Dukh i zhizn' (Spirit and Life), published in 1928. Dissenters were outcast or hid. Though journalists and scholars often documented that these people called themselves Pryguny, they ironically nearly exclusively used the wrong term Molokan, popularizing a false label. This identity disinformation was transported to the Soviet Union and Turkey with the book: Dukh i zhizn' where it clashed with the registered religion of Molokane after 1994.

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

After a century of misuse, the Russian term Molokan has unfortunately lost it's original meaning, which must be restored to make sense of the history of Spiritual Christians and to intelligently discuss them. In Old Russia, Molokan was a single, non-Orthodox religion; but in Southern California American English it was falsely broadly used for all sectarian faiths from Old Russia and their descendants, an ethnic group and a different family of religions. This mistake was transferred from the US to the Soviet Union where the most zealous expanded it to label themselves as a non-Russian nationality. The misuses are very confusing and should be corrected to correspond with the original meanings properly used in the 1800s.
  • Original Faith (RIGHT ) Molokan is the original Russian religion led and/or founded by Simyon Uklein, labeled about 1765. Nearly all congregations since 1992 are members of one worldwide organization headquartered in Stavropol province, Russian Federation, with one main U.S. congregation in San Fransisco, California and an affiliated congregation in Sheridan CA. People who are members of congregations affiliated with the Souiz dukhovnykh khristiane molokan (SDKM), Russian: Union of Spiritual Christian Molokans (USCM), (), are real Molokans.

  • Many Faiths (WRONG) The term was an easy "catch-all" category used to refer to all Russian Spiritual Christian immigrants in North America. In Canada, the catch-all term was Doukhobor. In Russia, Spiritual Christians coveted the Molokan reputation and claimed the name, while the Orthodox decreased creating a new names for each sect and reused familiar names. Upon emigration to North America, many faiths were incorrectly called "Molokan" (among other terms) in the press, and most of the assimilating members either did not know their own identity, or preferred that name and history instead of their own embarrassing history and translated Russian labels. In Los Angeles, the most literate assimilated youth, who filed incorporation papers for congregations and organizations, had more control to choose legal names devised to deter investigation and deportation, and protect their careers, while appeasing the lesser assimilated uneducated elders. In Canada, Doukhobors were extensively tainted by a breakaway minor group of protestors who had been shown in press photos in the nude, and tried to migrate to the U.S. to join with other Spiritual Christan faiths. Though in the 1940s the breakaway protesting faction in Canada identified themselves as syny svobody (Sons of Freedom), the most sensationalistic press constantly labeled them "Doukhobors," except for those who moved to Los Angeles who were then mistakenly called "Molokans." To avoid confusion, use the original Russian faith name, if known, or the general term "Spiritual Christian."

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

  • Non-Russian Nationality (WRONG) Internal passports were issued in Russia since the early 1700s to control people and land. Different from western ID's the Russian papers also included home ownership, children under 14, military status, nationality and/or religion. This data was used primarily to issue land privileges and collect taxes. Spiritual Christians raised for generations in the homeland, where internal passports are essential, are very aware of the legality of their social status and it's restrictions. Those isolated in the Caucasus and Turkey can illogically declare their own "nationality" of non-Orthodox Russians, among the many neighboring tribes, with their own religion, and this label could be incorrectly assigned by the surrounding nationalities and faiths. In these isolated areas, localized, non-official identities were created, which were transported into Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It is a way to assert a positive spin on the fact that they are non-Orthodox Russians, officially sektanti or heretics. There is no passport nationality category of "Molokan."

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

The misuse of the word "Molokan" has caused a long-term broad-spectrum of religious and political arguments. A liberal* 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, served in the military, eat pork and oppose the faith of their ancestors. It's like saying: "On Columbus day, everyone is Irish." In other senses, the word is as confusing as American Indian, who are not from India, may be on 2 continents, and comprise any of over 1000 tribes (bands), each with their own dialect, land and customs.

On the most rigorous/conservative* extreme, users of the Dukh i zhizn' only consider their ( : nashi) people, or selected members of their congregation and closely affiliated congregations, who profess their own group-accepted beliefs and behaviors, to be their mistaken version of "Molokan." Outsiders and guests are forbidden, bullied, even other Dukh-i-zhizniki. Between these extreme population definitions, about 5000 households (~20,000 descendants) were willing to be listed in an English language unpublished 1985 Directory, though about half are not practicing Dukh-i-zhizniki or Molokane by faith.

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

* 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.

5.   Three Faiths

This is a summary to facilitate identifying major factors of 3 of the Spiritual Christians faiths Molokane, Pryguny and Dukh-i-zhizniki. For more detail, see 11. Classification below.
  1. Molokane is Russian for the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) heresy milk-drinkers (Russian: molokane, ; from moloko = milk), first named in the 1760s in central Russia. Today their main international organization is a registered religion, the Souiz dukhovnykh khristiane molokan (SDKM), Russian: Union of Spiritual Christian Molokans (USCM), (), website:, offline since Dec 2012), founded in Moscow in 1990, and transferred about 1994 to Kochubeevskoe, Stavropol' territory, Russian Federation. The ONLY Molokan congregation in the U.S. is in San Francisco, and a semi-active congregation is near Sheridan, north of Sacramento CA; and both are members of the Russian SDKM.

  2. Pryguny is Russian for the ROC heresy leapers, jumpers (from Russian: prygat', = to jump). Some groups were called skakuny (, leapers) and by other labels. This new sect formed in the 1830s in south Ukraine among sectarians influenced by neighboring German Protestants, particularly Heufers (Springers, Jumpers). The heresy label of Pryguny was not recorded before about 1856, though similar beliefs existed for centuries and religious jumping is practiced around the world by many faiths. In 1865 Vereschagin visited Leapers in the Caucasus. Since no centralized Prygun organization exists, some congregations in Russia joined the SDKM to gain registered status. In North America, at least 3 Prygun congregations remained active to the 1950s (San Francisco, Mexico, and Arizona Selimski to 1947). The UMCA youth organization in Los Angeles followed the Prygun holidays, including holding Rozhestvo (Christmas) services. In 1950 a new congregation of Prygun immigrants from Iran in East Los Angeles were forced to transform to Dukh-i-zhiznik. In Los Angeles in 1932, 3 Prygun congregations combined to form Big Church, which was opposed for decades by zealous Dukh-i-zhizniki; officially because the new united congregation had an elected board of directors (komitet, ); unofficially, because some Big Church founders and members were of various other faiths and affiliations for which they were bullied and hated.

  3. Dukh-i-zhizniki is Russian for people who use the book Kniga solnste, dukh i zhizn', in short: Dukh i zhizn'. Dukh-i-zhizniki are much more diverse than the previous two faiths, hence are a denominational family. In the later 1800s, this cluster of faiths emerged among Pryguny and attracted membership from other sects and nationalities beginning in Erevan guberniia (now Armenia). One leader/presbyter (presviter) of a congregation of Pryguny was Maksim Gavarilovich Rudomyotkin (MGR), who became a mystical martyr while imprisoned from 1858 to his death in 1877. He rejected all other Prygun and Spiritual Christian faiths, creating his own rituals and theology. His notes, written while confined in exile, provided the main body of text for their later ritual books. In the early 1900s, immigrants to America, who revered MGR like a Saint, formalized his new ritual by publishing in 1928 and using the book Kniga solnste, dukh i zhizn' for worship as a sacred 3rd Testament, placed next to their Old Russian Bible on their altar tables along with new song and prayer books. Some believed this book replaced the New Testament. In the 1930s, copies of this book were exported to coreligionists in the Former Soviet Union and Turkey, where it was accepted by Maksimist congregations, but did not unify them. Conflicting interpretation of the new ritual book caused divisions among users around the world. This is the only denominational family in the world which exclusively uses these ritual books. Most diaspora Dukh-i-zhiznik congregations and organizations misuse Molokan in their title, and often state their membership is limited to Pryguny or Jumpers, while rejecting these precursor faiths, and instructing their members to not attend services of the Molokane, Pryguny or any another other "false" faith. Some ban attending other Dukh-i-zhiznik congregations for a variety of reasons (below). Rules for acceptance of guests and members vary widely by congregation, elders within a congregation, and time.

Less than 1% of Molokane have ever witnessed jumping, and fewer have read or even seen the book: Dukh i zhizn'. If allowed to attend a Dukh-i-zhiznik service, Molokane are often intimidated, sometimes disgusted, by zealous Dukh-i-zhiznik 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki, 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.

6.  New Label : Dukh-i-zhizniki

In 2007, a new and unique label incorporating the book 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki, they will never all assemble in one meeting nor unanimously agree. Occasionally members of 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 Dukh-i-zhiznik label appears to be the best fit for their lexicon. (Send comments to <Adminstrator @>) When congregations that use the Dukh i zhizn' were presented a choice of the 3 labels, they chose the Dukh i zhizn' identity despite the many differences and splits between congregations of Dukh-i-zhizniki.

Dukh-i-zhizniki are less united and more diverse in liturgy than Molokane, and fragment more. Only Dukh-i-zhizniki exclusively use the book Dukh i zhizn' for religious rituals and faith guidance. Before 2007, Dukh-i-zhizniki had no distinct label and often referred to other Dukh-i-zhizniki as our people (Russian: nashi : ) or believers [in the Dukh i zhizn'] (veruschy : ) 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, Dukh-i-zhizniki tell outsiders they are Molokane. Other terms used by journalists include extremist and maximalist. Some call themselves Maksimisty (Russian for followers of Maksim, MGR), but not all Dukh-i-zhizniki are Maksimisty, and some despise that term. Minorities sometimes 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: Dukh-i-zhizniki.

In the U.S. the term Dukh-i-zhizniki is new, strange and too exact for those who were indoctrinated to hide from the worldly non-believers. For these and other reasons, which they are afraid to reveal, or cannot explain, diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki will probably continue to mislabel their faith and institutions as Molokan, or True Molokan, though they are not 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 : Dukh-i-zhiznik. The irony is they claim they want religious freedom, but only to be dishonest with their identity. No one is brave enough yet to meet to discuss this error, or change their congregation and organization titles or descriptions.

These three religions (Molokan, Prygun, Dukh-i-zhiznik) have a common ethnic origin with other Russian sectarians, Spiritual Christians; iconobortsy (iconoclasts); use the Russian Bible with Apocrypha; and pray, sing, and read in Russian; 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 the faiths.

7.  Analogies

This section is for diaspora readers indoctrinated with the wrong terms, or convinced that whatever their grandfather or elders said must be correct. 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).

1.  Car To argue ownership of the brand-hijacked label "Molokan," some Dukh-i-zhizniki boast that they are the newest model of Molokane, like a modern car compared to an antique. They omit, or forget, that their religious predecessors were Pryguny, and should claim to be improved versions of Pryguny. Anyway, they say the Molokane are like the Ford Model T, but never modernized are constant, postoyannie. 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 religious family of Dukh-i-zhizniki. 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? This sounds silly, but Dukh-i-zhizniki still call themselves the antique term Molokane, which they never were, nor were most of their ancestors, while hiding their actual original term Pryguny. Why didn't they choose a new improved name? Who are they hiding from?

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? 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 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 uneducated 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 apples in a bunch.

If those diaspora in Los Angeles county, who only called themselves Molokans only stay in East Los Angeles county, never attend services in San Francisco, never in the FSU, never read about their history from outside books, they can easily believe they are whatever they called themselves. The same applied for those isolated for decades in Turkey and Armenia. Their self-definition can continue as long as they close off their congregation from education, Internet, outsiders, all worldly contact. If you are one of "them" and have been reading this taxonomy, you are now contaminated with new information oops   :))

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. When M.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" (, Turkestan). The Persian name is Turan: "the land of the Tur." 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.  Jew 100s of books and articles have been published debating "Who is a Jew?" Dukh-i-zhizniki consider themselves somewhat Jewish, eating kosher-like, sharing somewhat similar holidays. Changing the word "Jew" in the introductory text of Who is a Jew? (edited in, see archived text) to "(ethnic) Molokan" produces a broad awkward statement no more definitive of "ethnic Molokans" than for ethnic Jews:

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

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

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

Dukh-i-zhizniki differ from Haredi in their religious status of owning a prosperous business. (Israel Prods Ultra-Orthodox to Share Burden, New York Times, June 6, 2013)

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

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

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

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

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 its given out for free, why do so many
Dukh-i-zhizniki members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints count their Dukh i zhizn' Book of Mormon as one of their most valuable possessions? What kind of book can cause so many readers to change their lives, their minds and their hearts? What kind of book can answer life's seemingly unanswerable questions?

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

Most Dukh-i-zhizniki would probably agree 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 Rudomyotkin warns them to avoid. In contrast with L.D.S., Russian Spiritual Christians 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki who joined the L.D.S. church and call themselves (enthic) Molokans.
6.  Pancakes
How can one explain and describe pancakes (olad'i), waffles (vafli), and crepes (bliny)? Are these three kinds of pancakes or are they all the same? 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 the same batter can be 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 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki.

pancakes, olad'i
waffles, vafli
crepes, bliny

What if you asked for blintsy with tvorok, varenia and smetana, but got oladiki instead? You'd probably get a similar reaction telling a Dukh-i-zhiznik that Pryguny and Molokane in America celebrate Christmas, or most American Jews do not eat kosher.

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, ...) 100s of combinations. Such a multi-word classification system is only useful within the sub-class of Dukh-i-zhizniki, particularly where a congregation remains singular, separated from others nearby. Because Dukh-i-zhiznik congregations can be clustered but separate, members identify them with a combination 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), so they are simply identified by current location (state/province, city/village).

9.  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 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 members and other tribes. With education anyone should learn to identify the much fewer faiths of Spiritual Christians.

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

Reserve the word cancer for cancers Reserve the word molokan for molokans
We need a 21st century definition of cancer  We need a 21st century definition of molokan

My wife Tanya was a medical doctor in Russia. She says that she was surprised to hear American medical staff call benign tumors "cancer." In Russia their is no such confusion caused by mislabeling tumors. Similarly in Old Russia, before immigration, the variety of Spiritual Christians accurately labeled themselves, until American journalists, colonization agents and social scientists got involved. Though most were trying to help these peasants assimilate or make a commission for themselves, in the process they misunderstood and scrambled their identities.
Many classification examples come to mind. Hopefully these analogies will illustrate, to even the youngest reader, how choosing the right words can most accurately define these 3 Spiritual Christian faiths. By following the KISS-principle, the classification system chosen is similar to that for pancakes and fruit each Spiritual Christian religion has a unique original descriptive Russian label, historically known around the world Molokan(e), Prygun(y) and Dukh-i-zhiznik(i). and all are part of a larger group called dukhovnye khristiane ( : Spiritual Christians).

8.  Molokan Label Falsified For Many Reasons

Upon arrival in America, most Spiritual Christians remained in the city, or returned to urban life after most of the American land deals failed. While Maksimisty failed to return to Mt. Ararat, Klubnikinisty failed to find a land of refuge, and Novyi izrail' failed to move to Israel. By default their promised land 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, 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, outdoor clean water faucets, 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 the urban ghetto irresistible.

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, they 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 Dukh-i-zhiznik. Dissenters left the faiths, were pushed out, or were marginalized (allowed to attend if paid members, observe, do as told but not speak out ).

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

Reasons for the pre-1930 Prygun-etc. cover-up continued by Dukh-i-zhizniki are extensive:
  • Sensational press about and hatred for radical American Pentecostals also called Holy Jumpers already in California before 1904 (a policeman threatened to bomb a meeting, disturbing peace, arranged spiritual marriages, bigamy, unwanted, queer, demonstrations, etc.)
  • Questioning their Christian identity and beliefs in the midst of the hotbed of Pentecostal revival in Los Angeles (massive tent meetings, active evangelism nearby and in media), and differentiating from apostolic dancers.
  • Zealous Maksimist prophets and leaders (religious street maneuvers, marching to Los Angeles City Hall, evacuating to mountains for the apocalypse, disharmony; and failed resurrections, exorcisms, and farm colonies).
  • Public investigations, embarrassing news and arrests of Pryguny-etc. (court hearings for disturbing peace, funeral nudity, juvenile gang arrests, work and street gang fights, selling brides, unregistered marriages, not registering for military, selling liquor without license, Jews demanding deportation of these impostors in court, etc.).
  • 1907 April, in Los Angeles P.M. Shubin, during his son's wedding, reported " that they have believed in the gift of tongues the leadership of (Maksim) Rudomyotkin to this day that he will return and lead them to the promised land  they have recently received word from Russia that a prophet had a vision that this leader will soon return to them They cannot buy more communal land (in Mexico?) because they are going back to Russia." The journalist also mistakes these Maksimisty for starovery in his next paragraph. Later, Shubin denounced Rudomyotkin and remained a Prygun by faith until death in 1933.
  • 1909 failed suicide by sweethearts forbidden by her father to marry. Alexis Kottoff 23 shot Anna Sossoeff 16 and himself. Both nearly died in hospital. He was imprisoned 5 years. Zealous father Alex Sossoeff was in debt and needed his daughter to work for him, and not marry a "freethinking" Molokan, educated from a different faith.
  • Russian immigrants not appearing nationalistic (1903 Anarchist Exclusion Act, Naturalization Act of 1906, 1907-1911 Dillingham Commission, 1913 California Alien Land Act, Immigration Act of 1917, Espionage Act of 1917, 1917-1919 Committee on Public Information, Immigration  Act of 1918, 1918 Slacker Raids, Sedition Act of 1918, Overman Committee (1918-1919), 1919 California Criminal Syndicalism Act, 1919 California Red Flag Law, 19191920 First Red Scare, 19191920 Palmer Raids, 19th Amendment 1920, 1920-1933 Prohibition, 1920 2nd California Alien Land Act, 1921 Emergency Quota ActImmigration  Act of 1924, 1930s "Red Squad" of Los Angeles Police Department, 19471991 Cold War).
  • They could be confused with Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, "Wobblies") founded in 1905, who adapted holy jumper/roller songs and promotion methods as protest songs. In November 1919, Pryguny in Arizona seeking to buy land near Casa Grande was physically  forced out town by a gang of angry locals who claimed the Russians were "Wobblies" for refusing to register for the draft, resulting in an investigation by the county.
  • Contact with Spiritual Christian Sons of Freedom (nude marches, burning, bombing) who petitioned to resettle in the US (1902) and Hawaii (1906), and return to Russia (1957) and were were mistaken to be Doukhobors. The label Sons of Freedom appeared in the 1940s.
  • Contact with Community Doukhobors, CCUB (Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood) to join communes in Hawaii (1906), California (Los Angeles 1908, Santa Barbara 1910, Oregon 1923, Mexico 1923-1938), who were mistaken to be nudists, terrorists, arsonists, Sons of Freedom.
  • Other Americans who ridiculed the Russian immigrants for long beards (bewhiskered, whisker street), peasant clothes, poverty, illiteracy, truancy, alcoholism, youth gangs, and divided them into ancients and moderns.
  • Americanizing process. The Bethlehem Institutions specialized in transforming foreigners and illiterate peasants into educated tax-paying Christian citizens. The Spiritual Christians were a major government assimilation project for decades. Neighboring Russian Jews who arrived earlier were abandoning Judaism for Americanism, intermarrying, becoming non-kosher. The Molokane, Subbotniki and Armenian Pryguny rapidly assimilated. Many girls were hired as maids by assimilated wealthy Russians, many in/near Pasadena.
  • Confusion over the location of the prophetic South or "East."
    • The majority of Maksimisty who stayed near Mt. Ararat claim those who left to America had abandoned their prophetic promised land and apocalypse. Maksimisty gathered in Los Angeles planned to return to their villages near Mt. Ararat up to 1945, then resolved to remain in the city as Dukh-i-zhizniki.
    • In Tavria, Spiritual Christians had contact with a faction of German protestants who were following their German prophesy to go "south" to Mt. Zion (Jerusalem, Israel) for a 1836 Apocalypse. When some of these Germans got as far south as the Caucasus, they were not allowed visas to continue to Palestine, so they declared Mt. Ararat to be the location for the 2nd coming of Christ. M.G. Rudomyotkin apparently adopted this German prophesy for Zion.
    • Descendants of Maskimisty who immigrated to Arizona after 1911, revived the prophesy to go south and choose the Southern Hemisphere, then Australia.
    • Denials in 1939 and 1945 by the Turkish government for Dukh-i-zhizniki to return to Kars province and rejoin those who never left the territory of Mt. Ararat, the MGR prophetic promised land. Most in Kars province relocated to the Northern Caucasus in 1962. About 2010, a prophecy to return to Kars cause some to return home to Turkey from Stavropol, Russia.
    • During the Cold War, south became the southern hemisphere where nuclear fallout was least likely during the feared WWIII apocalypse.
      • Attempts since the 1950s to establish colonies in South America (mainly Uruguay and Brazil) by various groups from Southern California, perhaps to live near Russian colonists already there (New Israelites, Mennonites, Starovery, Subbotniki), secure permanent conscientious objector status, and/or form a rural colony.
      • 1960s mass migration by diaspora to Australia, but not to one location, resulting in a wider geographic dispersion than in the U.S., and dividing into about 10 congregations. Many returned to the U.S. or assimilated.
      • Baja California, Mexico pakhod site rented by Staryi Romanovskii sobranie (Blue Top, Clela Ave.), Montebello.
  • Deadbeat faith Organizations and individuals repeatedly refused to pay debts, and commit fraud and theft, unless taken to court. Many professed Christians revel their ugly "deadbeat faith" when it is personally financially advantageous to financially bully and steal from other members and charity funds.
    • 1905 The Mexico Guadalupe colony neglected to assure a full 7% commission to de Blumenthal for arranging their land purchase from Donald Barker, an attorney. In 1909, I.G. Samarin sued the seller for half the commission of $3425 in Superior Court. (First Prygun court case, research in-progress.)
    • 1906 110 people went to Hawaii, many expecting to get rich quick by flipping homestead land with little effort. They found wages lower than Los Angeles and refused to form a Molokan Settlement Association, or work; and defaulted on their agreement to purchase land for $5.69/acre. Financiers lost $20,000. Government lost most of a year trying to accommodate their changing demands.
    • 1945 After World War II, Dukh-i-zhiznik conscientious objectors (COs) refused to pay the $17,024 balance, about half, of their Civilian Public Service (CPS) camp bill, scamming 3 peace churches. (Research complete, to be posted.)
    • 1974 The LA-UMCA refused to pay $20 for janitorial service ($4/hour for 5 hours) causing the Recreation Committee to quit in 1974, never honestly reporting to members and halting social programs thereafter.
    • 1976 The Molokan Agricultural Colony (MAC) refused to refund shares to disgruntled Alex A.W. Kotoff family after they departed from the Mato Grosso, Brazil, commune. Kottoff sued MAC (Efseaffs) in court to get refunded. (To be posted.)
    • 2002 The Heritage Club refused to pay for administrative costs (less than 2%) to protect and deliver a $1.8 million donation from the Estate of Dr. John A. Shubin, yet obeyed Morrie Adnoff's order to secretly give $600,000 as a 30% hush-money bribe to delusional greedy members to protect his business image and lucrative city rubbish contracts worth many more millions to him, and those who supported him. No accounting was reported to their membership. The deadbeat Heritage Club, perpetrated the largest charity fraud and scam in Dukh-i-zhiznik history. (Research complete, to be posted.)
    • 2004 The Dukh-i-zhiznik HH-UMCA (Hacienda Heights, CA) supported a theft of $900+ from the Arizona sobrania bank account, and theft of property (meeting hall, cemetery, about 2 acres) by publishing false names in their 2004 and 2008 directories thus reporting them as legitimate presbyters and members of the Dukh-i-zhiznik faiths. The phoney members then stole $300,000 in cash by isolating their senile presbyter, John J. Conovaloff from his wife and children. (Research complete, to be posted.)
The simple, non-threatening and unique term Molokan was simply ideal to distinguish the majority Spiritual Christians (Pryguny and Maksimisty) in Los Angeles from Russian Bolshevik immigrants, Russian Jews, American Pentecostal holy jumpers, and to hide their actual faiths. Only a few families were actually Molokane in Los Angeles, too few to establish a congregation, and any effort to form a Molokan congregation was attacked by those promoting the Kniga solntse, dukh i zhizn'. Upon immigration some joined other Russian Protestant churches in Los Angeles, like Presbyterian and Baptist. A neutral sounding 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, 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 congregations.

Having arrived at the American promised land, Spiritual Christians were free to join any faith in America, which most did. Some camouflaged their Russian heritage by legally changing their Russian surnames, or Americanizing them.
Andrews Androff, Veronin
Baker Butchinoff
Bolder Bolderoff
Brewer Pivovaroff
Cherney Chernikoff
Chick Chickenoff, Chickinoff
Conway Konovaloff
Corney Corneyff
Domane Domansky
Durain Urane
Eagles Orloff
Eleen Elinov
Fettis Fettesoff, Fettisoff
Golf Goulokin
Jackson ________?
Johnson Varonin
Kalp Kalpakoff
Kariff Bogdanoff
Karp Carpoff
Kazy Kasimoff ?
Kissell Kisseloff, Kesseloff
Klubnik Klubnikin
________? Kochergen
Kott Kotoff
Emerald Kriakin
Krase Krasilnikoff
Cousins Kuznetsoff
Hall Hallivichoff, Golovachev
Martin Fetesoff
Maxwell Mackshanoff
Lashin Laschenco
Liege Ledieav?
Leigh ________?
Martin Slivkoff
Melnick Melnikoff
Mosser Moiseve
Niles Gvozdiff
Pluss Plujnkoff
Preston Popoff
Remmy Rudometkin
Riley Galitzen
Ruddy Rudometkin
Saber Tikhunov
Seaking Syapin
Somers Somaduroff
Stubin Stupin, Steuben
Tolmage ______?
Sharon Chernabieff
Thatch _______?
Thomas/Tolmas Tolmasoff
Young _______?
Wolf   Volkoff
Wren   Uren

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 kissing.

By the 1940s, most all U.S. descendants of Pryguny outside of Northern California who remained in the faith transformed into Dukh-i-zhizniki with varying degrees of acceptance of their new ritual (novyi obryad). About 90% of Pryguny descendants in the U.S. rejected the new Dukh-i-zhiznik faith for American faiths, many joining or attending in groups. Many doubted that their ancestors were Christian. 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. Though a majority of diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 things contradictory to their experience with Dukh-i-zhizniki. 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki 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. Dukh-i-zhnizki 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: "Molokans are the most democratic people in the world. Every one does as he damn pleases!" A clash of animositites among Dukh-i-zhizniki resulted in a variety of independent congregations and ind ividuals, including this free-speech website.

To Get a Privilege

A court ruling in 1984 resulted in a California man, Benjamin Stackler, not of Russian or Spiritual Christian descent, who testified that he was a member of a Molokan church of one member (himself), successfully petitioned to not show his photo on his driver's license, using a 1964 Dukh-i-zhiznik precedent (by Ivan Shubin). The truth is that all Molokane have photos on their passports and documents with no 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki would not have allowed him to join their congregations because he was ne nash (not ours), nor would they bury him. Who is he? ?

Another identity-switching case occurred in 2012. The Pivovaroff brothers, Morris (California USA) and Jim (South Australia), attended the August 1997 Molokan Youth Conference in Tambov, Russia with younger family (Morris M.Morris Pivovaroff Jr, Micheal John Mendrin, Steven James Shubin) 5 Dukh-i-zhiznik men. When their names were posted on the event attendance roster on the Internet, read by many lurking diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki, 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 Tambov Orthodox priest. 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 website was hosted by a Russian 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. The Molokans in San Francisco 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki). 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. 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?" Morrie Pivovaroff declared: "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 research.) Wedding held in May 2013, but Ona's parents and close relatives did not attend to protect their positions in their congregations. Per Pivovaroffs' recent testimony, I restored their names to the 1997 roster. If all congregations are of the same faith, why didn't they get married in Kerman?

There are many such examples. The above are 2 for which I have the most thorough evidence.

9.  Name Confusion

Molokane have been confused with Mennonites, Mormons, Quakers, Dukhobortsy, Sons of Freedom, Old Believers, Pryguny and a new religion formalized in the U.S. Dukh-i-zhizniki for many reasons.
  • The term Mormon was used about 1869 in Samara oblast to describe hybrid Russian sectarians influenced by God's People (Luidi Bozhe, khlysty) who practiced polygamy. The term Molokan was used to generally label nearby sectarians, hence molokan-mormoni.
  • During immigration to North America, most reporters were confused about labeling Spiritual Christians. In Old Russia, the term kvakeri (Quakers) was used to describe all sectarians because they were suspected of being infected by European Quakers, Protestants. The term Russian Quakers was used in the press to announce the arrival of each non-Orthodox group from Russia Mennonites (1880s), Doukhobors (1899); and in 1904 Molokane, Pryguny, and Subbotniki. Sometimes the Spiritual Christians were mislabeled Pryguny called Dukhhobortsy, Doukhobors called Molokans or Dunkers, Subbotniki called Molokans, Molokans called Old Believers, etc.
  • The two most widespread and long-term errors were first primarily spread by newspapers, then adopted by the zealous faiths as semantic camouflage:
    • calling Sons of Freedom by the group they left Doukhobors;
    • calling Pryguny and Dukh-i-zhizniki  Molokans, because that label had a more popular history.
  • During immigration, agents presented all Spiritual Christians in Los Angeles as Molokane, because:
    • the first group to arrive, or planning to arrive, may have been wealthy Molokane, but followed by many poor Pryguny and Maksimisty;
    • Tolstoy's petition letters, published world-wide, listed Molokane not Pryguny; 
    • to differentiate them from American Holy Jumpers who were hated in California; and,
    • to differentiate them from a protesting faction dissenting from Doukhobors who were also trying to come to California from Canada.
  • At least 10 land agents are identified in the press as representing the "Molokans." They were a hot commodity to get out of the overcrowded slums, to sell land to, and for cheap White labor.
  • In January 1905 during immigration, The Los Angeles Times explains 3 labels they are known as the Molokane, They are sometimes spoken of as Russian Quakers. Their proper designation is the Brotherhood of Spiritual Christians and they eat kosher but are not Jews. Afterward, newspapers mixed the labels and spellings for Pryguny (Prigooni, Priguni, Prugoni, Jumpers, Holy Jumpers, ...) and Molokane (see transliterations above), often in the same article; and in books.
  • In Los Angeles the term Pryguny was typically used in the media for Maksimisty, to distinguish the most noisy zealous jumpers from the quieter more civil Spiritual Christians trying to assimilate.
  • On 20 February 1906, The Honolulu Evening Bulletin reported immigration planning concerns: Don't Want To Mix Molokans Of Different Religions At Kapaa. A week later, their host plantation owner Spalding mistakenly said they were Hungarians. In Hawaii, Pryguny and Molokane held separate prayer services, and 3 conflicting leaders were mentioned. The Hawaiian papers never reported much detail about these different religions or sects, but did say that some were "religious fanatics, and some "jumped." 
  • On 21 April 1907, a long article in the Los Angeles Herald reported the "Milk Drinkers" or Molokanes" are not like the "Holly Jumpers," and Fillip N. (sic) Shubin says they believe their leader Maxim Rudomedkin (sic) will return from the dead "...and lead them to the promised land, and for this reason the local leaders of the colony, which now numbers 2000, cannot decide on an offer of land made them, as they have recently received word from Russia that a prophet has had a vision that this leader will soon return to them, although he would now be over 150 years old." Some Maksimisty (not Molokane) believe in the resurrection of Maksim G. Rudomyotkin.
  • Conscientious objectors changed their identity each generation:
    • In 1917, during WWI, a notarized resolution and petition listed 259 Russian Sectarians, Spiritual Christians - Jumpers in Los Angeles who registered as required by law for the draft.
    • In 1941, the next generation in Los Angeles changed their official label to Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian Jumpers and Molokan or Molochan in short.
    • By 2000, Dukh-i-zhizniki are only self-presented with the single term Molokan on the former "The Molokan C.O. and the Molokan Library Web Site" (, taken offline 2012) listed by the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, and in nearly all news articles and obituaries posted by the diaspora.
  • In 1917 while in jail in Arizona protesting draft registration, their translator John Kulikoff argued with a reporter that they are Holy-Jumpers not Molokans, but the press did not learn.
  • In November 1917, author/activist/screen writer Upton Sinclair published The Profits of Religion: An Essay in Economic Interpretation, with a chapter about Holy Rolling and Holy Jumpers. He just moved to Monrovia, California, and was famous for his 1906 expose of immigrant exploitation, The Jungle, which shocked the public and changed food laws. In California he ran for U.S. Representative (1920), U.S. Senate (1922) and California Governor (1932). In 1923 he was arrested in San Pedro for reading the U.S. Bill of Rights at a public rally.
  • In 1918, University of Southern California (USC) graduate student Lillian Sokoloff, a Home Teacher at Utah Street School, estimated by survey that 94% of non-Orthodox Russians (Spiritual Christians, sectarians) in Los Angeles were Pryguny, a statistic ignored to this day, and by every scholar who cited her paper.
  • Though Pauline Young's 1932 book is clearly about Pryguny by title (English and Russian), she intentionally changed the name of the religion, and censored and omitted many events, probably to present them as potentially good American citizens, not to be deported. Young uses the term Molokan over 400 times, but quoted from 24 pages of the Dukh i zhizn', occasionally stating they call themselves Pryguny. Even though she cites Sokoloff (1918) and Speek (1921), the classification terms in these reports are ignored. Young failed to recognized that Pryguny changed their faith to Dukh-i-zhiznik during the course of her research. After her book was published, Young testified to the U.S. immigration service that ethnic Molokans will make good citizens.(cite)
  • The original documented American label i (Bratskii Suiz Dukhhovnykh Prygunov : Fraternal Union of  Spiritual Jumpers) was abandoned in favor of labels including the words (Khristian : Christian) and (Molokan). Many variations appeared, all shortened to Molokan, rather than the English term "Milk-drinker."
  • During World War II, more than 740 Russian Molokans enlisted in the military, though the minority of about 172 (23%) were Molokane from San Francisco. Compare to 76 recorded for Civilian Pubic Service, of which only 1 was Molokan from San Francisco. 13 were CO absolutists who chose jail, but 3 of those enlisted. In the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, only one, Pete A. Wren, is shown as Young Russian Christian Spiritual Jumpers [Molokan].
    • The 76 professed COs did not pay half of their camp fees. To avoid jail, they cheated and scammed the National Service Board of Conscientious Objectors. (Deadbeat faith,  unpaid debt : $17,024)
  • In 1957, Nick Allen Klubnikin, failed to appealed his draft status in US 9th District Court of Appeals as member of a sect called Molokan Spiritual Jumpers (227 F.2d 87 (1955), Case No. 14628)
  • On September 25, 2001, the U.S. Selective Service System received a letter from a Los Angeles Dukh-i-zhiznik asking to be recognized as Russian Molokan Christian Spiritual Jumpers (page 13), which is the only single use of the term Jumpers in The Young Molokan and Military Service, compared to use of Molokan 41 times. (Letter taken off-line in 2012)
  • In 1964, The Los Angeles Times reported a 6-word description, Russian Molokan Christian Holy Spiritual Jumpers called Molokans moving to Australia. 2,000 prayed at the dock for the 32 who left.
  • In Berokoff's 1969 book Molokans in America the title and text incorrectly showed "Molokan(s)" about 430 times. He scrambles the labels Brotherhood 66 times, Spiritual Christian 26, Jumper 25, Prygun 7 and Dukhovnye 4. Only once at the end (page 203) when quizzed by a Russian professor about the difference between Molokans in Los Angles and San Francisco, does Berokoff clarify: "7. The title of our church body in Russian is: Dukhovnaye Christiani Pryguny." Actually his faith was Dukh-i-zhiznik.
  • In 1998, Los Angeles Dukh-i-zhiznik presbyter (presviter) George Samarin, great-grandson of I.G. Samarin, and brother of Dr. William Samarin, questioned an article published in Christian History: ... how was it possible for others to be 'the first' to speak in tongues in Los Angeles in 1906? Though Samarin had a good library of Spiritual Christian history, he apparently believed his Molokan faith was so unique that only they could have delivered the Holy Spirit to America.
  • Sect has a bad connotation in English. Most do not know the historic Russian religious term sektanti, (sectarian) simply means an ethnic Russian, who is not Orthodox, or a heretic to the Orthodox Church.
  • The short label Molokane (milk-drinkers, ) is unique and respectable in America when translated, unlike Pryguny, and is easier to pronounce. But it is not accurate when referring to Dukh-i-zhizniki, a completely different faith whose elders are mostly not treated as equals by Dukh-i-zhizniki.
  • No descriptive term for Dukh-i-zhizniki existed, or was wanted until a world directory was proposed. Diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki believe they must hide their faith, though it was partially described many times in the literature and in the courts. Though some devout Maksimisty are not afraid to self-identify among Spiritual Christians, they rarely use or explain that term (Maksimist) with outsiders (ne nashi) and non-believers.
  • Western scholars, not entirely familiar with Eastern Orthodox religious history, extrapolate what they understand about the Catholic-Protestant split upon the Russian Orthodox-sectarian split, as Orthodox-Protestant, ignoring major  difference between Russian Spiritual Christians and European Protestants. See: Nielsen, Donald A. Sects, Churches and Economic Transformations in Russia and Western Europe, International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Summer, 1989), pages 493-522.
  • Relatively little was published in English about Spiritual Christians compared to Protestants, though the Eastern Protestantism is about as diverse as Western Protestantism. More scholarly articles are appearing due to the recent efforts of a post-perestroika generation of scholars Drs. Breyfogle, Clay, Inikova, Nikitina, Petrov (Molokan), Werth, Zhuk and others.
  • The nationalistic, ethnocentric Russian news still confuses and scrambles the Orthodox sektanty within the sektanty, with foreign faiths, and with Orthodox heretic Starovery.

10.  Web sites by and about Spiritual Christians

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

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

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

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

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

Spiritual Christian Dukh-i-zhizniki
  • (in Russian) This mislabeled "Molokan" domain name is the only Russian-language web site specifically about Dukh-i-zhizniki, M.G Rudomyotkin, and their precursor Prygun and Khlyst faiths. Launched in 200_ by Vasili Vasilich Konovalov, Pyatigorsk, Stavropol'skii krai, Russian Federation. V.V. Konovalov is a second-cousin to me, about 50 years old, and admires the Arizona Dukh-i-zhiznik prophet V.V. Prohoroff. He never attended Molokan services, but did attend the Prygyn meetings in Pyatigorsk, where I first met him in 1992, and his family at their Dukh-i-zhiznik home meetings. After he wed, he only attends Dukh-i-zhiznik meetings in the south Stavropol area. He is a friend of Pyotr and Olya Shubin who moved to Australia, from Russia. He gathered some material and photos from a trip to Armenia.

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

  • The Molokan Network ( A monitored bulletin board, discussion group administered by Jeremy Lediaev, and friends, from the Kerman area, Central California. Contains years of youth social and religious threads about diaspora Dukh-i-zhiznik events and issues. Most content is public, registrations is required to post.
  • Molokan Underground ( A monitored bulletin board, discussion group administered by Dukh-i-zhiznik youth in East Los Angels County, California. Registration is more limited than the Molokan Network, limited to people known to the administrators to be practiscing Dukh-i-zhizniki. Some content is public, screened registration is required to post. As of January 18, 2013 : "Our members have made a total of 40,898 posts in 18,698 threads.We currently have 350 members registered."
More about Dukh-i-zhiznik websites ... (in-progress) ...

Spiritual Christian Dukhobory (spirit-wrestlers) A comprehensive list of 40+ Doukhobor-created web sites with links to 100+ related web sites is maintained by attorney, genealogist, historian Jonathan Kalmakoff, founder of the Doukhobor Genealogy Website. Since before 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.

11.  Classification


Molokane, Pryguny, and Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 ( : 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.

Dukh-i-zhizniki 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. Dukh-i-zhniki 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki, especially fast songs with mystical words and Western melodies conducive to jumping.

Dukh i zhizn' Christ's God's Yes




* Most adapted from Russian folk songs and borrowed from German Protestants. 
** After services at weddings, funerals, child dedication, holidays.

Within each faith group the styles and melodies vary by geographic territory due to decades of isolation among congregations. For example, Molokane in Central Russia (Tambov) use less polyphonic protyazhnaya ( : 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, Dukh-i-zhiznik melodies for the same song can differ between Los Angeles County and Central California. When about 50 families of Dukh-i-zhizniki 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.


Molokane, Pryguny, and Dukh-i-zhizniki can most easily be differentiated by their religious holidays.

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

Click for MOREA.  Molokane 10-11 holidays depending on congregation. The original religion of Dukhhovnye khristiane-molokane (Russian for: Spiritual Christian Molokans, -) 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 khristianemolokan  (Russian for Union of Spiritual Christian Molokans (USCM), (), website:, founded in Moscow in 1990, and transferred about 1994 to Kochubeevskoe, Stavropol' territory (krai), Russian Federation, after a plea to relocate to the Northern Caucasus to serve the thousands of refugees from the Caucasus. Today many still object to the transfer because 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, c ). 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, ) 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki who use the label Molokan for themselves while avoiding, often condemning, authentic Molokane. About 224 congregations counted world-wide since 1950.
  • Sukhie Baptisty Russian for Dry Baptists, . Molokane who somewhat merged with the All-Russian Union of Evangelical Christians (ARUEC), organized by Ivan Prokhanov, which split from the Russian Baptist Union, but refused water baptism, preferring their traditional baptism by the Holy Spirit. It is estimated that about half of the early ARUEC members were of Molokan descent, like Prokhanov's parents. Many were called dry-Baptists by relatives and friends. At least one congregation counted in 2007, Tblisi, Republic of Georgia, but more exist.

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

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

B.  Pryguny, Dukhovnye 10 holidaysPryguny is Russian for Jumpers or Leapers. The full Russian label is dukhovnye khristiane-pryguny, -, Spiritual Christian Jumpers. Today in Russia most call those in the same congregation who do not jump dukhovnye (Russian for Spirituals, ), and those who jump pryguny. In this taxonomy, the term Pryguny is used to categorically distinguish these congregations from Molokane and Dukh-i-zhizniki. 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 : ), Russian Orthodox, Lyudi bozhii (People of God : ), Novyi izrail' (New Israel : ), Skoptsy (Castrates : ), Shaloputy (), 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 : , constant, steadfast, unchanged, original). This nickname continues, mostly used by Dukh-i-zhizniki to defend their using the Molokan label.

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). 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), ecstatic dances (radeniia), jumping, skipping, walking in the spirit / in joy (khozhdenie v dukhe), and actions (deistviia, ).

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: " 1835-1844 . 1860-1877 ".)

Prygun Holiday Calendars

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

Pryguny divide their holidays into God's holidays and Christ's holidays (Russian: Prazdniki Gospodni i Khristovy, ). Christ's holidays were retained from their Molokan origin from acceptable Orthodox holidays. God's holidays were added by the Subbotniki who used the Old Testament.

Song 181 of the American Dukh-i-zhiznik Songbook of Zion (Sionzkii pesennik : ) documents these Prygun holidays. This diaspora songbook appears in about 10 progressive versions, each after the second version adding songs used by all 3 faiths in America, but deleting very few as the versions grew. The lower numbered songs are the oldest, hence this was definitely a Prygun song.

181 Song 181

We glorify God by faith,
    Honoring the annual Holidays.
On the mountain they were given by our God,
    To Moses transferred from Sinai.

Five words he concluded,
    Designated them to God's people.
And God with a strong hand,
    Approved three weeks in the summer.

The first one is holy Easter [Paskha],
    A sacrifice by Law (OT*) is taken.
The second given by God is Pentecost,
    It gave us the Holy Spirit.

** [] ,
The third is the holy Feast of Tabernacles [Kuschei],
    Given to God's people.
For three weeks we worship,
    That's how we glorify God;

Zechariah gave blessing with rain,
    Rewarding the words of God;
The Holy Day of Atonement,
    Lets us make the soul [Holy Spirit] visit.

Five Holidays were given by the Law (OT)
    Five more were given by Christ:
We honor all ten,
    And we celebrate Pentecost [Troitsa];

We brought prayers and sacrifices (offerings),
    We ask for God's blessing;
He will not leave us,
    And guide us to the righteous path.
    . .
God's holidays are praised with offerings
    The Scriptures gave us strength.
God is the glory and power,
    Unto the ages of ages. Amen.
   * OT : Old Testament, Law of Moses
** (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 Dukh-i-zhiznik faith group, join the 2 Molokan congregations (San Francisco, or Sheridan), or leave to another 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 USCM and have good relations with Molokane. Most welcome visitors, photography, conversion, but mostly retain closed communion. About 30 Pryguny congregations counted world-wide since 1950.
  • Subbotniki-Molokane See for extensive history and maps. Original Subbotniki did not call themselves Dukhovnye Khristiane, but many Dukhovnye Khristiane (Spiritual Christians) merged with Subbotniki and chose Saturday for their sabbath, and Subbotniki joined Molokane by intermarriage. Many were counted as Saturday Molokans (subbotniki-molokane) in the Russian Empire Census of 1897. Many Subbotniki have migrated to the Portland, Oregon, area, whose youth affiliate with the Molokan-Adventisty youth in Washington. A large group emerged about 1920 in Russki Borisi village, Azerbaijan, led by presviter Rybkin, whose congregation split, half remaining Dukhovnye-Prygun, the other half Subbotnik, performing identical services on different days, but joining for holidays. Some descendants of this Subbotnik congregation converted to Adventist upon resettlement in Russia where they have a meeting hall in the Kapelnitsa suburb, Inozemtsvo, Stavropol province, RF. 2 congregations, Russia (Stavropol province), USA (Portland).

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

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

3.  Dukh-i-zhizniki 5-6 holidays. Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 based on the ritual book Dukh i zhizn' (short for Book of the Sun, Spirit and Life ; Kniga solntse, dukh i zhizn' ; , ).

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 zealot faiths.

Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 i (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, ), but not all Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 Dukh-i-zhiznik 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: (Utrennyaya zvezda : Morning Star), then his Prayerbook (Russian: Molitvennik, ), and a songbook. They ignored the prayer books used by Molokane organized after 1906 in San Francisco. In the Former Soviet Union the Dukh-i-zhiznik books are often collectively called obryadniki ( : ritual, ceremony books).

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1928 Russian
1976 English
1983 English

After 4(?) revisions, the final and current version of the Dukh i zhizn' was published in 1928 in Los Angeles by i (Bratskii Suiz Dukhhovnykh Prygunov : Fraternal Union of  Spiritual Jumpers). 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.

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 Holy Jumpers 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) refused the book.

Before a failed migration back to the base of Mount Ararat in 1939, diaspora elders declared no need to to translate their books into English. To continue the Dukh-i-zhiznik faith in America, translations were needed to retain the youth. In 1944 John K. Berekoff 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 1965-66, John Volkoff, while a graduate student in slavic language at the Uinversity of California Berkeley (UCB), translated the entire book himself with occasional the help from local elder Russian Jews. In the summer of 1966 in Los Angeles, after Wednesday Night Church, John Volkoff, driven by Andrei A. Shubin, arrived at the LA-UMCA after everyone left but 3 board members and me, Andrei Conovaloff. Volkoff 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. Conovlaoff. All groups apparently refused and/or were afraid to publish it. The project stagnated for more than a decade.

I met John Volkoff 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 (Dukh i zhizn' ) to , (Kniga solntse, dukh i zhizn' ).

In 1974, in Los Angeles, George G. Shubin and John Kornoff had just finished republishing the 1928 Russian version which was out of stock. The book was a common wedding gift. George Shubin, who studied editing and publishing at East Los Angles Community College and edited the UMCA newsletter, was told when he got married in 1972 that he was lucky to get one of the last copies. When Shubin and Kornoff learned from Daniel H Shubin that a translation existed, they immediately insisted it should be published. ....

Independently in 1976, the first complete translation was published in South Australia (2 editions) by James M. Pivovaroff with an untitiled red cover and 11 gold stars (photo above). Pivovaroff said he consulted Russian-born immigrants in Australia for help with translating and proofreading. Critics in America say he paid ne nashi to do his translating. In 1983, the postponed 1966 Volkoff tanslation was edited and published (photo above) by Daniel H. Shubin in Los Angeles county.

Only the Russian versions are used by Dukh-i-zhizniki for singing. Occasionally the English versions are read from, when giving speeches, depending on the congregation 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.

Diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 marriages, disturbing the peace with loud estatic jumping to exhaustion, unusually long 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 use without opposition; (e) a failed attempt 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 label: Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian Jumpers, which was shortened to Molokan, a complete camouflage.

The largest cemetery in the U.S. operated by Dukh-i-zhizniki (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 is not completely translated, hiding the embarrasing Pryguny identity from Americans and those who cannot read Russian. The original historic label Spiritual Christian is notably absent in English.

A wide spectrum of diverse Dukh-i-zhizniki exist around the world. The extent of use and acceptance of the Dukh i zhizn', various old Russian rituals and traditions, significantly divides congregations internally and between congregations, causing congregations to split, often 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 the Prygun holidays, whose congregations remained separatist. In the 1950s, immigrant Pryguny who arrived in Los Angeles from Iran (Persia) were rejected (excommunicated) by local Dukh-i-zhizniki until they used the Dukh i zhizn' and abandoned half of their holidays. American Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 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 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 or apologize.

Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 examined Dukh-i-zhiznik 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.

Dukh-i-zhizniki around the world have divided for many reasons (not rank ordered):
  • geography (migrated to California in 1904-1912, village of ancestors)
  • eating communal (obschaya pisha), or with individual dishes, spoons, forks)
  • use of technology (photograph; telephone; display / TV / computer (displei : / yekron : )
  • Russian language (fluency, southern dialect preferred / demanded); use of Old Russian Slavonic language, or not)
  • appearance-dress,
    • men (white or colored, rope belt knot left or right), hair style (parted in middle "like open Bible", length), beard style and size (long, bushy preferred; 100 years ago hair was long, now short)
    • women (white or colored; bonnet (chepchik : ))
  • married into "right" family (spiritual blood-line of clan, or not);
  • how many children (5+)
  • use of the Maksimist identity greeting (Parginal, Assuringal, Yuzgoris! : , , !)
  • associations (education, affiliations, attendance and recognition at other congregations/faiths, etc.)
  • attend other assemblies, faith meetings (faith types are clustered, some off-limits)
  • emphasis of the Dukh i zhizn' authors (Maksimisty versus Davidisty versus others)
  • veneration of M.G. Rudomyotkin (King of the Spirits, never died, Saint in prayer and song, rose to heaven, etc.)
  • personal wealth (more the better among all branches); Rudomyotktin instructs path to wealth by hiring many Arabs
  • military enlistment (tolerated or not)
  • taking oaths, affirmations, or not
  • joining the collective farm (kolkhoz), or not
  • ritual variations (prayers, songs, funerals, holidays, etc.)
  • home and prayer house size, decor and location (in village, city), etc.
  • marriage partner (of spiritual bloodline, other Spiritual Christian faith, other faith)
  • higher education, or not
  • occupation (rural farmer-preferred; if urban self-employed blue-collar, driver preferred)
  • anticipation or prophesy of nuclear holocaust, Apocalypse, New World Order, etc.
  • ancestral nationality (Russian, Cossack, Armenian, Mordva, Chuvash, etc.)
In 1909 during the Pashka holiday in Los Angeles, Alex Kottoff 23 and Lana Sissoeff 18 attempted suicide because Lana's father forbid her marriage to Alex. From 1911 through the 1920s Prygun traditional parental control of free-unregistered marriage became a legal scandal in Los Angeles and near Glendale, Arizona. In contrast the San Francisco Molokane and Pryguny quickly complied with American laws to register marriages, and allowed mixed marriages. For a century, diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki controlled their families actions with punishments and rewards, ostracism and inheritance, for who they befriended and married.

In Los Angeles Maksimist and Prygun-etc. families maintained their tradition of a customary "bride price" (kalym : ) 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. She worked as a maid, and her wealthy employer advocated for her, taking her case to 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), 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 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 Russians got off easy after agreeing to register all previous marriages and re-do the weddings. 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 trial. 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 1940s after being denied mass emigration back to Russia, they exported their newly organized Dukh-i-zhiznik 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 most Maksimist congregations adopted them and transformed their faiths to somewhat conform with instructions from America.

Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki for abandoning their motherland, the prophesy to stay near Mout Ararat, other prophesies and communal traditions; living in cities; using ekrany ( : display screens, TV, movies, computers). In opposition, many Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 the profesy to leave Russia call them "Jerusalem."

Since perestoika, about 50 Dukh-i-zhiznik 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.

Dukh-i-zhizniki rarely seek new affiliations with Molokane or Pryguny.  Though 100s of Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 Dukh-i-zhiznik and joins the mate's congregation, only after conversion and scrutiny. No Dukh-i-zhiznik 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki today self-claim to be true Molokans by faith. Few welcome visitors, photography, or conversion; and most have closed communion. About 86 Dukh-i-zhiznik congregations, many are small, counted world-wide since 1950.
  • First Armenian Pentecostal Church Armenians who joined the Pryguny in Kars Oblast, migrated with them to California, use the book Dukh i zhizn', lived and intermarried in the Los Angeles Flats ghetto, are buried in the Dukh-i-zhiznik cemeteries, but now use the label Pentecostal. Now most are unknown or shunned by all Dukh-i-zhnik congregations in California. Ironically, the Demos Shakarian clan, which split and founded the The Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International, is somewhat honored because they credited the Prygun prophet Klubnikin in their history, yet are rejected for joining the 666 false faiths. Most welcome visitors, photography, and conversion. One congregation counted in 2007, La Habra Heights, California, USA.

12.  Other Classification Systems

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

.   (Directory of religious denominations and sectarians)

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

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

The chart below shows a simple holiday taxonomy of Spiritual Christian Molokane, Pryguny and Dukh-i-zhizniki.

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



Palm Sunday  

(Palm Sunday)

Easter, Passover
Leviticus 23:5-10
(Passion Week, Easter)
Ascension Day**
Mark 16:1-8; Acts 1:9
Pentecost***, Trinity
Acts 2, Leviticus 23:16-23
Mathew 17:1-9
(Memorial, Blowing of) Trumpets***
Pamiat Trub,
Leviticus 23:23-25  
Fast Day of Atonement***
Post Sudnyi Den',  
Leviticus 16:29-34  
Festival of Shelters/Booths*** 4
Feast of Tabernacles
Kuschei, Kuscha, ,
Leviticus 23:33-44  
Harvest Festival4
Urozhai, zhatva : ,
Leviticus 23:33-44
(3-Day Fast, Thanksgiving4)
Birth of Christ, Christmas
Rozhdestvo Khrista,
Luke 2:1-20
(Christmas Eve Youth Program,
Christmas Day Service
Luke 3:21-22
Seventh (Week)
From prophesy
in Armenia


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

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

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

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

Most descendants of Pyguny in America (and those who moved to Australia ) who claim to be ethnic and religious Molokans practice the Dukh-i-zhiznik faith. In America, some dominant members of the Dukh-i-zhizniki 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki 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. Dispite these diferrences and politics, all Dukh-i-zhizniki place the book Dukhi zhizn' on their altar table and follow the Old Testament holidays.

This major holiday was added by prophesy among Dukh-i-zhiznik congregations in Armenia as a perpetual Pentecost. Every 7 weeks throughout the year, Armenian Dukh-i-zhizniki conduct Sed'moi (Russian: Seventh), a spiritual fast and cleansing service which they started before WWII. This new holiday is practiced only in that region. Sed'moi became important during perestroika and the Karabakh war (late 1980s), as families (90%) were fleeing to safety in Russia. 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki migrants from Armenia in America and Australia that they cannot perform this holiday with their new congregations. In Australia in 2006, recent immigrants from Armenia purchased their own building to hold their own traditional services, and may have included Sed'moi

Some Russian Molokane celebrate the Harvest Festival (3-day fast) in place of the Festival of Shelters for 8 days. The American Molokane adopted, or substituted, American Thanksgiving because it is a similar autumn harvest festival, but they schedule the feast to be on the Sunday before American Thanksgiving which occurs on Thursdays. In Central California, the Dukh-i-zhiznik 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: [34] (Christian Churches of God, Australia, who may be descendants of Molokane.).

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

The active diaspora Spiritual Christians who mainly learned spoken and recited Russian from elders, with minimal or no exposure to Moscow Standard Russian in college, the media or from recent immigrants, preserved many characteristics of the oral dialects imported by their ancestors more than 100 years ago, before the Russian revolution.

(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 // (/g/). Those indoctrinated for generations by the most zealous diaspora Dukh-i-zhizniki evolved an over-stress (strongly voiced) in their pronunciation dialect; for example, (gde : where) became (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 // (/g/) correctly. (cite Iskra) (Also: Doukhobor Russian, Wikipedia; Q43: Is 'Doukhobor Dialect' Defended? Spirit-Wrestlers blog.)
Dialect (M > N) In Arizona, the Dukh-i-zhiznik 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 Dukh-i-zhizniki retained the pre-1918 Cyrillic alphabet, some archaic words and sacred Old Slavonic vocabulary in their liturgy. To the the most zealous, changing the words, or updating the Russian spelling or alphabet, is heresy.

Old = New

= =

i = = =

ѣ = =

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

, ... Our Father, who art/is in heaven ...

, ... Our Father, who art/is in heaven ...

, ... Our Father, if you are in heaven ...

, ... Our Father, who is in heaven ...

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

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

Molokane, Pryguny, and Dukh-i-zhizniki Around the World