The study of religion in the Soviet Union over the last decade begins from a premise not only different from, but contradictory to, the broad lines of the recent development of Soviet society as a whole. Even in the academic community, not to mention the popular mind, Khrushchev is almost universally regarded as a liberaliser. This was the tenor of the somewhat enthusiastic obituaries published by both The Times and the Daily Telegraph when he died in 1971.1 The fact is passed over in silence that Khrushchev, who undoubtedly brought new ideas to many areas of government, was one of the greatest persecutors of the church that Christian history has known. The present-day psychology of Russian believers can be explained in this light alone. For the main body of the Russian Church, the years of liberalisation were from the end of the Second World War up to the time when Khrushchev was firmly in the seat of power (some time between 1959 and 1960).


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  1. 2.
    See Michael Bourdeaux, Religious Ferment in Russia henceforth RFR (London, 1968) pp. 3–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 4.
    See e.g. Bourdeaux, RFR; Bourdeaux, Patriarch and Prophets: Persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church today, henceforth P&P (London, 1970); William C. Fletcher and Donald A. Lowrie, ‘Khrushchev’s Religious Policy, 1959–64’, in Aspects of Religion in the Soviet Union 1917–67, ed. Richard H. Marshall (Chicago, 1971 ) pp. 131–55.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    See Anatoli Levitin, Dialogs tserkoonoi Rossiei (Paris, 1967).Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    The best discussion of Lenin’s anti-religious policy is contained in the chapter by Bohdan R. Bociurciw, ‘Lenin and Religion’, in Lenin, the Man, the Theorist, the Leader, ed. Peter Reddaway and Leonard Schapiro (London, 1967 ), pp. 107–34.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    See Gerhard Simon, Church, State and Opposition in the USSR (London, 1974) p. 78.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    See Michael Bourdeaux and Xenia Howard Johnston, Aida of Leningrad (Reading, 1972).Google Scholar
  7. 19.
    For an examination of some of the basic relations between the Russian churches and the outside world and their political rationale see W. C. Fletcher, Religion and Soviet Foreign Policy,1945–70 (London, 1973 ).Google Scholar
  8. 20.
    See particularly the report written by Trevor Beeson for the British Council of Churches, Discretion and Valour: Religious Conditions in Russia and Eastern Europe (London, 1974).Google Scholar
  9. 21.
    See W. C. Fletcher, Nikolai (New York, 1968 ).Google Scholar
  10. 28.
    For a full discussion of the sobor, see Bourdeaux,‘How Soviet State kept control of Church Council’, Church Times London, 17 Mar 1972, p. 11 (concluded on p. 8).Google Scholar
  11. 44.
    See Bourdeaux, ‘Three Generations of Suffering’, Church Times, 31 May 1974, p. 9.Google Scholar
  12. 46.
    See Bourdeaux, ‘The Harassment of a Soviet Christian’, Church Times, 13 Dec 1974, p. 3.Google Scholar
  13. 55.
    The most notable description of this is in Eli Wiesel, The Jews of Silence (New York, 1967) pp. 58–97.Google Scholar
  14. 61.
    A. N. Kochetov, Buddizm (Moscow, 1968 ) p. 156.Google Scholar

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© Michael Bourdeaux 1978

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  • Michael Bourdeaux

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