The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







The Doukhobors (Russian Духоборы/Духоборцы) are a Christian dissenting sect of Russian origin.



The term Doukhobors means "spirit wrestlers."

Doukhobors rejected secular government, the Bible, and the divinity of Jesus. They were also ardent pacifists. For these reasons the Doukhobors were harshly repressed in Russia. Both the tsarist state and church authorities were involved in the torture and exile of these dissidents, as well as taking away their normal freedoms. At the end of the nineteenth century the Doukhobors began to leave Russia en masse. They chose Canada for its isolation and peacefulness, and migrated there in 1899. The Doukhobors' passage across the Atlantic Ocean was paid for by Quakers, who sympathized with their plight, and by novelist Leo Tolstoy. In Canada, the Doukhobors established a communal life style, similar to the Hutterites.

Perhaps the most dynamic leader of the Doukhobors to date was Peter Vasilevich Verigin (b.1859 - d.1924). Verigin was killed in a train explosion on October 29, 1924.

Current status

Today the majority of Doukhobors (an estimated 40,000) live in Canada. Perhaps another 30,000 live in Russia. The Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ, also known as Orthodox Doukhobors or Community Doukhobors, was formed by Peter P. Verigin (son of Peter V. Verigin) in 1938. It is the largest and most active Doukhobor organization, and is headquartered in British Columbia, Canada.

Most of the Doukhobors no longer live communally. Their prayer meetings and gatherings are dominated by the singing of acapella psalms, hymns and spiritual songs in Russian. Doukhobors do not practice baptism. They reject several items considered orthodox among Christian churches, including church organization & liturgy, the inspiration of the scriptures, the literal interpretation of resurrection, the literal interpretation of the trinity, and the literal interpretation of heaven and hell. They avoid the use of alcohol, tobacco, & animal products for food, and involvement in partisan politics. Doukhobors believe in the goodness of man and reject the idea of original sin.

The religious philosophy of the Doukhobors is based on two commandments: "Love God with all thy heart, mind and soul" and "Love thy neighbour as thyself." The Doukhobors have several important slogans. One of the most popular, "Toil and Peaceful Life," was coined by Peter V. Verigin.

Doukhobors are often associated with the Molokans, who originated in the same circumstances in Russia. At the end of the 17th century the protest movement against the official church split into Molokans and Doukhobors. These groups are distinguished more by their original social composition than by any major theological differences. Also the Molokans chose a leadership of elders rather than a single authoritative leader as the Doukhobors.

External links


  • Historical saga of the Doukhobor faith 1750-1990s: toil and peaceful life, by Sam George Stupnikoff
  • Songs of the Doukhobors: an introductory outline, collected and edited by Kenneth Peacock
  • The Doukhobors of British Columbia, by Harry B. Hawthorn
  • The Doukhobors: their history in Russia; their migration to Canada, by Joseph Elkinton
  • The Doukhobors, by George Woodcock and Ivan Avakumovic
  • The Community Doukhobors: A People in Transition, by John W. Freisen and Michael M. Verigin
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46