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Orthodox faith crowding out others in Russia

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When Soviet rule ended in 1991, there were almost no working

churches in the Chelyabinsk area and few former church buildings.


had been a Soviet city, built around vast metallurgical, tractor and

tank factories, and the doctrine of atheism. The Russian Orthodox

Church had to start almost from scratch — and it had to compete with a

flood of foreign missionaries.

Resilient Mormon FaithIt's hard to find the meeting house for The Church of Jesus Christ

of Latter-day Saints. There is no sign outside the commercial building

where the Mormons rent a floor.

Elder Kevin Pulsifer, 28, is

one of 10 foreign missionaries here. Most of them, including Pulsifer,

are American. After hearing stories about the problems Mormons have had

elsewhere in Russia, he was prepared for trouble on the streets.

"We get that stuff every now and then, but honestly, it's better than I thought it would be," Pulsifer says.

He says it worth it.

About 200 Mormons regularly attend Sunday services and Sunday school. Kostya Chuvashov, 21, was one of the first converts.

"My brother thought it was cool to meet Americans to learn English," Chuvashov says. "That's basically how it started."

Chuvashov paid a price.