Religion in the Soviet Union

Religion in the Soviet Union

Religion in the Soviet Union

Religion in the Soviet Union

Excerpt

This book does not deal with theology. It is an attempt to provide a fuller understanding of Russian reality by drawing attention to what might be called 'the other Russia', the Russia of the believers. I did not begin writing this book with any preconceived ideas about the strength of religion in the Soviet Union. In examining the available material and weighing up the evidence I have reached conclusions which have come as a surprise to me.

The book is not written for religious-minded people only, but for everybody anxious to come nearer to the truth about Russia and Soviet Communism. I believe it is an essential part of this truth that religious believers form the new oppressed class of the communist régime.

In a certain sense the writing of this book was a religious experience. At an early stage I found that the book could only be written if I approached every religious group of the Soviet Union with sympathy and charity. I must leave it to the reader to judge whether and how far I have succeeded in this endeavour, but I trust he will not mistake a criticism of political attitudes, especially towards Communism and nationalism, as an attack on the spiritual essence of a given faith.

People belonging to the most different religious persuasions have proved most helpful and have made a decisive contribution to the progress of the work. Several times I gave up this self-imposed assignment in despair. I thought I should never be able to conclude it for lack of time and, even more often, for lack of material. Whenever this happened I received a helpful letter or a pile of material from a Mennonite or a Catholic or a Seventh Day Adventist providing a sufficient incentive to continue the task, which became more and more an exercise in practical ecumenism. It was no longer necessary to rely on my own enthusiasm, but I found encouragement in the blessings and good wishes which I received from the most unexpected quarters. At the same time I contracted an obligation towards those who have lent me their assistance and I only hope that I have honestly discharged it.

The number of pages allocated to the various religious groups in the Soviet Union is no criterion of either their numerical importance or their spiritual significance for the peoples of Russia and I do beg the reader not to judge the book only on this 'arithmetical' basis. My main concern was to throw light on the less familiar aspects of the religious . . .

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