Mukhin V. N. Position of the Orthodox believers in the Soviet society of the 1930s (the example of Kazan diocese) (.pdf)


The paper is devoted to the life of faithful Orthodox believers in the Soviet Russia. Whereas the majority of similar works are focused on the relations between the state and the church, the paper is aimed at outlining the way of life of ordinary believers in the 1930s by taking the Kazan diocese as an example. Various sources of information, including archive data, the 1930s local media, the researches of regional and national historians, were used in the study. The research embraces the period between 1929 and 1940. The author analyzes the life of priests’ families, including persecutions from the state for belonging to clergy (expulsion from educational institutions, difficulties in entering schools and in getting employment or access to collective goods). The author pays attention to urban believers’ life, focusing attention on negative attitude to religion in general and to believers specifically (for instance, the idea of closing Christian churches with the following demolishing of buildings was a widespread question of the meetings at plants and factories). The paper also examines rural believers’ life and distinguishes two groups of believers: migrants to cities (who were restricted in expressing their religious position) and those who stayed in the villages, felt more freedom in expressing their religious position and could face the legal power in an open conflict. Special attention is paid to the fact that under the Soviet power religious life was expelled from official life and restricted to domestic rites. Only in the rural areas was it possible to defend religious views in numerous groups (for instance, 200 people left the collective farm as a protest against shutting down the local temple, whereas in the cities such a protest could be expressed only by single believers). The author concludes that the Soviet policy affected religious aspect of life of all social groups; the Marxist-Leninist philosophy was incompatible with religious way of life; such incompatibility resulted in the persecutions and repressions of the believers; religious life went into deep hiding and was mostly restricted to domestic rites.


Key words: history of the Soviet Russia, Orthodoxy, social status of believers, Kazan diocese in the 1930s.


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