The 80th Anniversary of Stalin’s Five Year Plan to Eradicate Religious Faith
May 17, 2012 by Simon Appleby
John Sanidopoulos’ excellent “Mystagogy” blog alerted me to this ignoble anniversary. We should be grateful that this ugly programme failed, while remembering those who were martyred during those terrible times and those who suffer still for their faith in China, North Korea and Vietnam.
1929 magazine showing Jesus being dumped from a wheelbarrel by a muscular industrial worker; the text suggests that Industrialization Day can be a replacement of the Christian Transfiguration Day.
May 15, 2012
Stalin set a goal: the name of God should be forgotten on the territory of the whole country by May 1, 1937, the article posted by the Foma website says.
Over 5 million militant atheists were living in the country then. Anti-religious universities – special educational establishments for training people for decisive attack against religion – were organized.
According to the plan on religion liquidation, all churches and prayer houses should have been closed by 1932-1933, all religious traditions implanted by literature and family by 1933-1934, it was planned that the country, and firstly youth, would be grasped by total anti-religious propaganda by 1934-1935, clerics were to eliminated by 1935-1936, and the very memory about God should have disappeared from life by 1937.
However, the census of 1937, where a question about religion was included on Stalin’s instruction, puzzled Bolsheviks: 84% of 30 million illiterate USSR citizens aged over 16 said they were believers; the same was said by 45% of 68.5 million literate citizens.
Churches were again closed in big numbers in 1937. About ten thousand churches were closed in 1935-1936, eight thousand in 1937, over six thousand in 1938. According to the modern data, about 350-400 churches from pre-revolutionary churches were open in the early war years.
When bishops were arrested, Metropolitan Sergy (Stragorodsky) had to dissolve the temporary Synod on May 10 and administer all dioceses with the help of his vicar bishop and chancellery, which included a secretary and a typist.