The Spirit in Russia

Article excerpt

THE historic vote by the Soviet parliament Monday guaranteeing freedom of religion in Russia, and the end of religious persecution, is merely the final act in a decades-long struggle. The vote gives the force of law to the religious liberalization process that has been taking place since 1988 in the USSR. Another foundation-stone of orthodox Marxism has crumbled. The crooked has been made straight; the rough place plain.

It's been evident for years in Russia that religious feeling could not be snuffed out there. Mikhail Gorbachev himself says he was baptized as a child; his mother is a "believer.

The recent tactic of Soviet scientific atheists has been "neutrality" on religion. The assumption is that, left to itself, religion will die out since no one could possibly find real solace or meaning in something as invisible to the material world as faith. Sorry, wrong assumption. Official atheism, not God, is now dead in Moscow. Nietzsche take note. That there was even a debate over whether religion could be taught in state schools shows how far inroads have been made.

In some ways, the rise of religion in Russia - increased church attendance, interest among intellectuals - comes just in time. …