By Christel Lane

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Additional info for Christian religion in the Soviet Union: a sociological study

Sample text

I shall try to explain why certain of the sect types Wilson specifies have taken firm root in Soviet society and why others are either rare or non-existent. We have seen that some of the characteristics of the 'sect' type are still meaningful in the social context of Soviet society. This is due to the fact that, in contrast to Western societies, Soviet society resembles late medieval society in some important aspects, despite the general radical difference between the two types of society. The basic antagonism between religious and political ideology and the resulting religious intolerance of the Soviet state, coupled with a monopoly of coercive power, may be likened to the ideological stance of the medieval Catholic Church vis-à-vis dissenters.

To give some impression of the scope of this atheist propaganda work I quote the following statistics for Voronezh region of the RSFSR (2,511,000 inhabitants): in 1965-6, 101 new books on atheist topics appeared on the shelves of book shops and libraries, two atheist popular journals had 25,000 subscriptions, local radio stations had regular programmes on atheist themes, and in 1970 alone 222,620 popular lectures were given on the subject (Teplyakov, 1972, pp. ). Atheist education figures prominently in the general education of children and is gaining ground in higher education.

None of these points was elaborated in great detail and the various regulations could be stretched and interpreted in many ways. Future developments showed that this was often done at great cost to the religions organisations. ) The provisions of this decree dealt a serious blow to the Orthodox Church which lost all its extensive privileges. They were initially advantageous to the sects which. for the first time in Russian history, had equal status with the Church. In general, believers of all faiths were left free to practise their religion as long as they kept it an individual and private act.

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