Baltic Neo-Pagans attempting to expand their legal status

While Neo-Pagans only constitute a tiny percentage of the population of Baltic countries, they aspire to become increasingly established in Latvia and Lithuania, although not without meeting resistance, according to media as well as reports recently published on Eurel, an academic website and network reporting on sociological and legal data on religions in Europe. In all Baltic countries, there were groups advocating for a return to a reconstructed ancient, native faith in the interwar period. Such efforts resumed after the fall of the Soviet Union, also with inputs from Neo-Pagan groups active in the respective diasporas of each nation. In Lithuania, building upon the activities of an ethnocultural organization active during the Soviet period, Romuva was registered as a religious organization in 1992 and gained the status of a “non-traditional religion” in 1995. Currently, says Rasa Pranskevičiūtė-Amoson (Vilnius University), Romuva is applying for the status of a state-recognized religion (Eurel, January 3), a status that entitles an organization to receive financial support from the state. The initial application by Romuva had been turned down in 2019, but the decision was subsequently deemed unfair by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Source: Quora.

But in September 2023, the Lithuanian parliament again voted down a proposal to grant state recognition to Romuva. An MP belonging to a Christian party declared that she was appreciative of Romuva’s efforts to nurture ethnic culture, but could not accept Romuva as a religion, adding that “Europe was built on the foundation of Christianity” (Baltic Times, September 19). According to internal sources, there are currently 30 local Romuva groups in Lithuania and abroad. There are other Neo-Pagan groups in Lithuania besides Romuva, explains Pranskevičiūtė-Amoson. Romuva is a well-known movement in international Neo-Pagan circles, since it was strongly involved in the creation of the European Congress of Ethnic Religions (ECER, formerly the World Congress of Ethnic Religions, WCER) in Vilnius in 1998. In Latvia, the Dievturi, a Neo-Pagan group that had originally been registered as early as 1926, is enjoying some success in pushing for parity rights, writes Anita Stasulane (Daugavpils University, Latvia). A wedding celebrated by a Dievturi minister will have legal force according to amendments to the civil law put into place in October 2023. “However, the new legal provisions cannot be applied until the law on mutual relations between the state and the Dievturi religious organization is adopted” (Eurel, November 21). Stasulane reports that data received by the Ministry of Justice “suggest that there are about 500 Dievturi in Latvia,” and that 17 Dievturi ministers are expected to receive the right to celebrate weddings.

(Eurel,; see also: Anita Stasulane, “Current Challenges to the Protection of (Neo)pagans’ Religious Freedom in the Baltic States,” Religions, 10 August 2023,