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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

If Soviet atheism is a variety of secularism, it more resembles eliminationist movements viewing religions as obstacles to the political integration of citizens into the state. Before World War II, the Bolshevik government issued decrees to disentangle the state from the church. Later, Khrushchev emphasized atheism and closed churches as part of a general populist, mobilizational approach to promoting communist values. By the 1970s, religious practices were not precluded but were assigned a marginal space outside of public engagement. The post-Soviet era has seen self-reported religiosity increase, while self-reported atheism has diminished, although remaining significant. Russia’s 1997 law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations requires a denomination to exist in a region for fifteen years to enjoy the full legal and tax status. Today, Russia differentiates between “good” religions that help to promote particular moral visions and “bad” religions that create social strife, promote violence, and endanger public health.

Keywords: communism, Soviet atheism, Russian Orthodox Church, anti-religion policy, secular government, secularization

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