Religious Policy in the Soviet Union

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Church-state relations have undergone a number of changes during the seven decades of the existence of the Soviet Union. In the 1920s the state was politically and financially weak and its edicts often ignored, but the 1930s saw the beginning of an era of systematic anti-religious persecution. There was some relaxation in the last decade of Stalin's rule, but under Khrushchev the pressure on the Church was again stepped up. In the Brezhev period this was moderated to a policy of slow strangulation of religion, and Gorbachev's leadership saw a thorough liberalization and re-legitimation of religion. This 1992 book brings together fifteen of the West's leading scholars of religion in the USSR. Bringing much hitherto unknown material to light, the authors discuss the policy apparatus, programmes of atheisation and socialisation, cults and sects, and the world of Christianity.