The Survival of the Russian Orthodox Church in her Millennial Century: Faith as Martyria in an Atheistic State

  • Dimitry V. Pospielovsky
Part of the Studies in Russia and East Europe book series (SREE)


It is hardly necessary to reiterate here the legal status and the realities in which the Orthodox Church, from the very first days of the Bolshevik rule, and all religious faiths of the USSR later, have had to exist. To put it briefly, as early as January 1918 the church was disenfranchised, deprived of the status of a juridical person, and along with that stripped of all her real estate, of all church buildings, schools, monasteries, residences for the clergy, bank accounts, as well as of the right to own any of these, of the right to teach religion either to children or adults, in state schools as well as in private ones. Nor could parishes organise and run any Sunday schools. The hierarchical structure of the church had henceforward no legitimate status. The state recognised only groups of laity who could lease a church building from the state for worship or a house in which to settle a priest with his family. The legislation of 1929, furthermore, deprived the believers of the right to engage in religious propaganda, that is to publicly debate with the atheists and to defend religion when the latter attacked it. Various laws of that year banned even special church services for particular groups of believers, for example women, youths and school children. They forbade the priests to organise any clubs or hobby groups attached to churches, for example music or art circles, or lovers-of-nature groups taking hikes into the country.


Religious Faith Local Council Religious Believer Ritual Murder Church Building 
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© School of Slavonic and East European Studies 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dimitry V. Pospielovsky

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