Global Christianity Churches under the Soviet Union
(1917 - 1991)
Global Christianity

Persecution and suppression of Christianity by the Soviet regime.

Often it was the older women who kept
churches alive in the Soviet Union

The Soviet Union took severe measures to destroy Russian Orthodoxy, which had been Russia's official church, and smaller Protestant and Catholic groups. In 1918, the year Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was born, Soviets seized most of the lands owned by the Orthodox church. Monasteries were destroyed and monks were evicted. Soon churches were forbidden to own property. Persecution continued in 1929 as more laws outlawed religious education, taxed church personnel, restrained charitable work, and forbade all forms of religious "propaganda." Many religious leaders were killed or sent to labor camps; churches were vandalized, destroyed, or used as office buildings, barns, or storage dumps. At the height of Soviet power, hundreds of thousands became religious martyrs, most of them Christians but also Muslims and others. As the decades of Soviet rule passed, many Christians were sent to psychiatric hospitals because religion was categorized as mental illness. Others were denied access to education and desirable jobs. Where churches were allowed to exist, they lived in servitude to the Soviets. In many places, the church was kept alive by old women.

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Photo courtesy of Dellas Herbel.