- Category: Church History
- Published: Friday, May 15 2015 07:49
Church in Russia
In the late fifties and early sixties, the soviet state again began to persecute the Orthodox Church in Russia. There were no violent purges as in the Stalin era, but the new persecutions came in the form of “administrative” measures with supposedly legal foundations. There was the closing of schools and churches – from 22,000 churches open in 1960 to 7,000 in 1964. There was the heavy taxation and restricted registration of clergy. Severe punishments were meted out against churchmen for trivial or nonexistent “crimes.” In 1961, new decrees of the government gravely limited the powers of the parish priests by giving all legal and administrative authority in the churches to the lay councils, the “twenty” members required by soviet law for the formation of a local corporation with rights to use a church building for worship. The pastors were thus reduced to mere liturgical functionaries devoid of official involvement in the life of their churches. These “administrative” measures were the attempt to destroy the religious faith which according to marxist doctrine, should long since have died a natural death in the USSR. Official atheist propaganda of the period shows a grave concern over the persistence of religion in the land.