The Soviet Communist state launched the most thirough atheist campaign in history. The French Revolution was perhaps the first. There had been many campaigns against specific religions, but never before such a cpmprehensive, long standing state-organized campaign against all religions. The atheist campaign began by Kenin as soon as the Bolheviks seized power, but omly with the end of the Civil War did the Soviet state organize a systematic campaign against religion. The Soviet Union and Communist states in general were openly hostile to religion and officially atheist. The intensity of the aheist campaigns they launched varied, but during the Bolshevist and especially Stalinist era the Soviet campaign was intense. The Soviets took the Marxist position that there was no God. It was far more than a metaphysical matter. They consideed religion a crime and a way of opressing the people. Marx wrote, "Religion is the opium of the people." [Marx] It was a phrase repeated by Lenin. Under Lenin and the Bolsheviks Marx's words were converted into a systematic, often brutal campaign to religion from the life of the people. Religion had been very important in Russian life, especially the Orthodox faith. The primary focus was on Christinity, but there were other religiins in the Soviet Union, including judaism and Islam. The Soviet secret police comenced aabage campaign to destroy religion. It included the confiscation of church property, tearing down churches, arresting and murdering clergymen and nuns, and discouraging the practice of religion in many ways. [Gorbachev, pp. 20-21.] This began before Stalin seized control of the state. Under Stalin's NKVD such actions could be organized with chilling effiency. The historiam nof Salinist oppression writes, " Religious believersm of course, were being arrested uninterruptedly. (there wre nevertheless, certain special dates and peak periods. There was 'a night of struggle against religion' in Leningrad on Christmas Eve, 1929, when they arrested a large part of the religious intelligencia and held them--not just until morning eiher. And there was certainly no 'Christmas Tale.'" [Solzhenitsyn, p. 50.] Stalin in his infamous purges Purges shifted the primary targets of the secrete police which became the NKVD to potebntial opposition with the power structure (Government, Party, military, inteligencia, ect.). But discrimation and arrest of religious people never ceased. This was especially true during the Great Terror when the NKVD units werev given quotas of people to arrest. Who bettr than religious people who almost by definition were not true Communists. After Stalin the arrests declined and executions ceased, but the descrimination continued until the collpase of the Soiviet Union.. The hostility to religion continues in the surviving Communist countries (China, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, and Vietnam).
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