People, Church, and State in Modern Russia

By Paul B. Anderson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
The Legal Position of Religion

FOR Western Christians, the restrictions under which religion exists in Russia today would seem unbearable. These restrictions are expressed in the wording of the 1936 Constitution, Article 124, "Freedom for the conduct of religious worship and freedom for anti-religious propaganda is recognized for all citizens." Few Christian churches elsewhere in the world would feel that "conduct of religious worship" should constitute the limits of their activities. They would think of Sunday and week-day church schools, of women's societies, men's clubs, Boy Scout work, and of the vast variety of activities which fill the weekly church calendar; also of social work, charitable undertakings, research and practical work in the realm of improving the community, national or world social order; also of the Student Christian Movement, Girls' Friendly Society, the Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A., to mention but a few of the great organizations which are basically religious. The list could be increased, only to widen the gap between the position of the Church in Russia and the Church abroad.

Such things are not only prohibited by inference in this Article of the Constitution; they are specifically forbidden by law. In the law of April 8, 1929, Article 17 reads as follows:

Religious unions (parishes) are forbidden: (a) to establish mutual aid funds, cooperatives, producing unions, and in gen-

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