From Bondage to the Desert – 1.4 State and Church under Communism – 1

1.4.1 Special Attention Given to Churches

NKVD Instruction NK/003/1947, point 34:– ‘We should give special attention to churches. Cultural and educational activities should be directed in such a way as to create a general antipathy towards them. Pay particular attention and place under special controls church printing houses, libraries, archives, sermons, pastoral visits, catechism classes and funeral ceremonies’.

From what we have said before, it should already be clear that churches are not very popular with communist regimes, even if sometimes communists have tried to use them for limited periods of time in order to promote their own agendas. Some naïve church leaders were fooled by this circumstantial benevolence and became ‘fellow travellers’. To their great surprise, they were later dumped by their supposedly friendly protectors as soon as their help was no longer needed.

DefinitionFellow travellers was a label used to identify those people and institutions that the communists used in order to strengthen their position and influence in society. They invariably discarded them later on (and sometimes literally destroyed them in the process) after they had seen their purposes accomplished.

No matter what the immediate tactical attitudes of the communist regimes were towards the church, their long-term purposes always included the idea of compromising the testimony and influence of church leaders and of the church as a whole in society.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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