Russian Orthodox Church essay example

501 words
Stalin vs. God "At a very early age, while still a pupil in the ecclesiastical school, Comrade Stalin developed a critical mind and revolutionary sentiments", wrote E. Yaroslav sky in Landmarks in the Life of Stalin. "He began to read Darwin and became an atheist. G. Glurdjidze, a boyhood friend of Stalin's, relates: "I began to speak of God, Joseph heard me out, and after a moment's silence, said: " 'You know, they are fooling us, there is no God... ' " Joseph Stalin came to power and kept his power by eliminating all who opposed him. At the height of his regime, any organization that might have offered a resistance was either controlled closely by the state, or was eliminated. Between 1930 and 1939, one of the only oppositions to Stalin's authority was the Russian Orthodox Church, and it was one of the last organizations not under state control. The Soviet Union was the first state to try to eliminate the church.

The Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and enforced the teaching of atheism in schools. Churches and mosques were closed, or converted into schools or movie theaters. Religious icons were melted down, and meetings were banned throughout the country. Religion was forced to go underground, in order to hide from the prying eyes of Stalin's police. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most organized religions were never officially outlawed.

The main target of the anti-religious campaign in the 1930's was the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the largest number of parishioners. Nearly all of its clergy, and many of its believers, were shot or sent to labor camps. Theological schools were closed, and church publications were prohibited. By 1939 only about 500 of over 50,000 churches remained open. In a letter to Molotov, Lenin writes: "At this meeting [of party congress delegates, ] pass a secret resolution of the congress that the removal of property of value, especially from the very richest laur as, monasteries, and churches, must be carried out with ruthless resolution, leaving nothing in doubt, and in the very shortest time. The greater the number of representatives of the reactionary clergy and the reactionary bourgeoisie that we succeed in shooting on this occasion, the better because this "audience" must precisely now be taught a lesson in such a way that they will not dare to think about any resistance whatsoever for several decades".

As a child, Stalin was surrounded by religion, and he even attended seminary. None of this early orientation kept him from seeking the destruction of religion in Russia in the 1930's. He believed that wiping out organized religion would quell any resistance from the working class for years. Stalin's regime strived for nothing but absolute and unchallenged supremacy, hoping to mold Russia into a super efficient economic machine, second to none in the world.