Created: 5/1/1988

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Gn.iliuxiai PUc^c,

gorbachev confronts the challenge of christianity

^eliase as sanitized

Gorbachev Confronts the Challenge of Christianity

Gorbachev Confronts Ihe Challenge of Christianity

Keyis sliveand well io the Soviet Union. It continues locotnpctc

imfo-mvu*for the allegiance of the populace, challenges the official

reinforces nationalism in both Russian and minority homelands,

and is attractive to alienated youth and even to some party members, Believers defy the state by conducting pilgrimages and proselytizing, setting up underground churches, and publishing religious saratzdatbelievers* political rights

Gorbachev Is significantly modifying the regime's approach to religion in an apparent attempt to gain support for his broader economic and socialvitalizatlon programs from religious believers (roughlyercent of thend especially from the Christian community (estinutcd atercent of the Sovietowever, bis attempt to replace tbe traditional heavy handed and repressive approach, which stressed tbe riEOrous enforcement of atheism,ore subtle strategy is proving extremelyitter dispute bas opened up among many religious believers over the sincerity of the regime's program and, by implication, tbe utility of cooperation with Ibe regime, Tbe Russian Orthodox Church, long noted for its submission to state authority, has taken advantage ofincreased regime tolerance to become more outspoken in pressing for an expanded role Certain activist groups are aggressively pressing believers' rights. For example, thousands of Ukrainian Eastern Rite Romanbave petitioned Moscow to restore their legal status, lost when Stalin forced them into the Russian Orthodox Church.

There arc serious disagreements within the top leadership as well over the wisdom of opening this Pandora'second Secretary" Ugacbcv seemingly speaks for conservatives oo this issue as on others, and there are hints that Gorbachev's policy oo religion is poorly received by KGB Chairman Cbebrikov, Ukrainian party boss Sbcbcrbitskiy, and Defense Minister Yazov. Local partyhave traditionally violated believers' rights wilhthe wisdom of relaxingand continue past repressive practices. This is particularly true in the Ukraine and 'he Baltics, where Christianity is closely allied withactivism.

Tbe retime ia playing wiih lire by accommodating so strong an Ideological rival with natural lies to nationalism in both the borderiandi and tbe Rssssian heartland. Serious natioaalstl disturbances io the Caucasus or the Baltics where church men were indirectly inrcjred during recent months could provide ammunition Tor cooservalircs to pressrackdown and further exacerbate reported deep leadership duTcrencea over Olher elements of reform. Oorbaehcv aad has allies wQI need deft liming and careful monitoring lo avoidarther surge in Otriatlan

(rorbachet Confroals tbe Challenge of Christianity

yean after Ihe USSR declared Itself an atheistic slate, Soviet Icsdcr Mikhail Gorbachev jnd his colleagues are concerned over Ibe growingof Christianity in this Millennial year. Regime nervousness has been fueledontinued inability to curb the appeal of Christianity and fullytbe clergy,ast array oT levers for applying pressure. Official atheistic propaganda, KOB penetration of churches and clergy, andof religious activists have often boomeranged. Clumsy propaganda hasublicised Christian history and beliefs, while widespreadand imprisonment have provided activists with martyrs and new audiences for proseiytirinn inlabor camps, and subsequent exile

While tbe Soviei regime has been conspicuously silent On the number ofroad array of internal indicators testiSesurgeoning of churchwith the evangelical groups and underground congregalions growing faster than traditional(see tben addition to publicsole legal activity of congrega tidnswith Ibefaithful conduct banned activities such as pilgrimages, prosclytiiation, appeals and petitions lo authorities, pacifism, and civilGrowing numbers of believers are alsoin under groundreligious literature from abroad, circuit ting religious samizdai, and organizing underground churches aad seminaries Others are active in overt religionsto gain political rights for believers and to expand the role of churches in Soviet society. ^

The upsurge in Christian belief over the last decade hns occurred against the backdrop of fundamental demographic shifts that have uprooted the Soviot population both physically and raychologically- The belief in technology that replaced traditional religious faith during lhc early pot (revolutionary decades wot weakened during the eooeornle slowdown and growing societal problems of. Popular cynicism and

malaise in the wake of Brerhncv-era stagnation and corruptionertile seedbed fot reawakening interest in rdlgloo. In recent years the rcuulgic search for etlvnic roots by Russians and miDorities alike bas strongly reinforced tbe religious impulse by culling attention to tho churches' historical role as the paramount culture bearer, i

Events tiDccave magnified the impact of these Ions-term forces. Western radiobroadcasts have increased popular awareness of religious life abroad and the role of religion at borne. The election of an activist Slavic pope and1 upheavals in Poland stimulated religious activity by Soviet Cathol)cs?be-tente and the Helsinki accords, as well asequence of aging and weak politicalpparently led many Christian activists to believeof an open challenge to thereligious practice would be tolerated.


Tbe persistence and vitality of religion presentproblems for the regime. The churches are the only legal institutions, outside the party-statewith the potential to attract followers across class and, in some cases, ethnic lines and torogram for mass action:

* Id'.o'.ogy At tbe only tolerated nonofficial Ideology, rclitiouia worldvlew and values that challengeeninism. Not even partyforbidderi to practiceimmune to its appeal.and other leaders bave railed against Muslim practices by party and Komsomol members inthat apparently apply to closet Christians as well. Some party officials in the Baltic and Ukrainian republics reportedly take part in iccret liturgies and provide materials for tamirdat religious publications.



I. J'ltfraamatr

aboutWff *av* tetrwrtrdltam oft-iw/

y<WoaJnfoit rllilttoaiafOtW af"


a/lhtl'iirUa' tUtllH. Thr al/ptmj itportidlf kavt0 labia la maintain iht itilt. ami aitthatlriti art airarmlly Huaibti aadihtmttltt Otr haw tan lotoamflht

Nollonallsm. Bccauie meat dcoornlaalions in ihe USSR are ethnically grounded (seeelitiou* falth rrinforces ethnic Identitylach border-land areas aa ihe Caucasus, the Baltics, and thea particularly potent type et* aa-lloaalisra. In Armenia, for inttance. the head of the independent Orthodox churchey role ia supporting demandt for the Incorporation of Naiorno-Karabakhtkaya Autonomout Obtaii at

"natural, legal, andhile thecan play on Russian Orthodox believers' pride in the traditions of Russia, religion In tbecenQocrtd by the czars reinforces resentment, of tbe Russians, who ere associated both with political repression of non-Slavic nations and with the officially privileged position of the Russian Orthodox Church.




JeJwvoV* WtSMta,


foufA. The regime teemsuneasy over the attraction thai religion bold* for Soviet young people In particular, espousal of Christianityumbers cf you thi beika the propai^nda cliche that faith -ill die out with the older rraeri tiotn. The teairae's peooJem is highlighted by tbe treat appeal lo youth of the furtdasrscrttalist sects and ethnically based dencminiiious. which oftenevel of uncompromisint rejection of Soviet society and open sectarianrtrafi evasioncannot be officially ignored


Gorbacbev Is crafting an tpproath to the ChriitUnity bsue coiurliteatt with hit more flexibleonad eartaral expression. SpoOftcally. be teems to be iryiag to win allegiance (or bis broader cconosnic and social fretaliation ryogranst frora religious believers (roughlyerceni of theand especially from tbe Christian community


fn nf. Despite bis Apparent determination to liberalisepolicy on religion, Gorbachev has yetepudiate explicitly Ibe elaborate and overlapping bureaucratic lyiican of controls that has been developed7 to curb deno-ra1 nations, clergy, and individualParty and stale agencies stillroad array of ins transects for controlling denominations and con-gregaiioni. The chief vehicle is tbe legislativethat congregations ofr more believers mutt register with the CRA. Only iu approval ensuresa ids. access to premises in which lo bold worship services, and the right to collect donations ond employ clergy. "J"


I'ilirr 1. ih!* C'lU Ml' .1

"ilk tmt ciiaf

(estunatcd iterceni of Ibc Sovietorbachev apparently calculates that grantingto theirll lira up religiousand believers behind him and win the approval of many liberal intellectuals and cultural figuresnoi th eras'I itsa loosening of repression foi churches as the bearers of the national snd cultural heritage

Gorbachev appears willing to capand sosnesvhat the legal bounds of religious csprcaaton, ia an effort lo draw all but the moat obdurate believers into open aad mocrtored activity, while isolating and discrediting those ictirisis who will not conform to the ne* rules. He appears to bethrough two keyPolitburo member Aleksandr Yukovlev,oversees the party propaganda apparatus, and Konatantin Kharchev, in charge of the Statt Council for Rdi glovs Affairsnder Iheir guidance,are developing differentiated and more nuanced tactics to combat Chhitianily

In return for these privileges, however, registered churches effectively aurrendor their autonomy. They must raise their own operating funds, but the CRA maintains checks on their finances. By selling the numbers of places in seminaries, veiling candidates, and registering clergy, the s'.ate controls the lire aad qtaslity of chorea siaSiand places KGB infeeroer* throughout tbearge body of evidence indicates that senior clerics of tbe Russian Ortbcdcx Church and other registered denomination* bavelb* irguasa. particularly tat voteiag support for Soviet foreign policy.

Unregistered congress uses fare eventheir services are often disrupted, aod some of their clergy and activists arc jailed or forced to emigrate. For inns ace. Estonian authorities Initiated criminal laves-tigallon* against two activist pastors of on openly antiregime. Illegal church In the republic,thai failed to silence ihe sees- deported ihe ministers in early March In hopes of destroying the church.

The registration policy, byualfor religious denominations, hasand suspicion svithin the rclis-ious

in the late

, even sensor Russian Orthodox derics areevenly divided inio those who are completely


rp mai iTrniJiil



I. Cnrharlin hairgrrr alrtiffti for

htm tl trmbaU atll" jlwai ihown aa Sovirl IllfUlon lOflnf an

UttKrta* mhraral in Rita In fi1 itgT.


these yho are publicly loyal yet encourage greater church activity and recruit young memben, and those who openly disobey the Male by evading laws oo worship.

The retime abo hat ai Ma disposal iauiaiaeau for mtinyajatiag andndividual Christians Clergy aad mcrrfbert of the congregation arc often luted by tbe local government for leading or atteadiag unreglilered tervicea or providing religiousel vim are ostrtc-rod at work or school, and tome religiout bclieveri have been branded "unfit parents" and threatened with less of iheir children.

Even since Gorbachevs election Inome aetivilu have been Jailed, otber* bare been forced to emigrate or bave been committed to psychiatric Isospi-tals. and tome have been phytic*lit threatened. oung Christians serving ia the military forces hate reportedly been phrucattv ibused aad even killed in Seially tolerated hating. Some reporting suggests that Roman Catholic rmesti and hy activists is tbe Baltic rerpabtics have been Injured or have died under susracious orcurnslances, which dissidents attribute to the police. Whileo solid evidence that these injuries or deaths were arranged or sanctioned at the top of the KGB, there are also no retorts thai anyone bas been punished for those crimes

broad array of criminal code provisions, only some of which relate directly to religious activity, is used to jaileiample, spreading "anti-Soviet (religious)anieipatieg in religiousiocs that "disrupt publicr conduct! eg religious education of the young. Believers are abo chargedariety of trumped up secularat failing so cant interna! pauper's, theft, disorderly conduci. or parasitism (lack ofChristian activists, in fact, account for almost SO perceni of all political prisoners known 10

nd Ue-rloplng New * "

While continuing to rely selectively onftheselve levers, Gorbachev has emphasiied incentive* for approved behavior. He has apparently mandated more sophisticated and less adversarial propaganda.to one report, he urged that tbe referencetheistic propaganda be dropped from the partyrevised6 aod. when that failed, bad It toned down.


Moreover, ibe regime bat been more responsive io several longstanding churchs inn. hat allowed the registered churches an eipinded public role, and has guaranteedore secure statu In society:

It has increased domestic production of religious literature and it relaxing some cos torn) restrictions on importation of religions materials. Whileof the new customs rules remains spotty, Baptists arciblesalf of which bave reportedly nr rived. The regime granted the Russian Orthodox Church permission to bringibles and topecial MHkrinlal editionopies.

Some church leaders bave been given access to tbe domestic mass media. For example, Gorbachev's meeting with Orthodox Cburch leader* onpril and pan of this year's Easter services were televised (secetropolitans of the Russian Orthodox Cburch and tbc bead of the Armenian church have used television interviews to stress that Ihc churches have an important role in Soviet society today and that constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion must be strictly observed.

The CRA has become more protective of believers' rigtiu"aSslrilobi!ructiorust and repressive local bureaucrats. The CRA's intervention wasin the publid/ed reprimand and dismissal In7 of district officials in Krasrsoyarsk who badew chorea building belonging to an Orthodox congregation.

Militia* have cased up on embarrassing public displays of force against religious activists- Despite the protests of an irate passerby, Moscow militia stood by quietlyrninute prayer meeting conducted by an unofficial Soviet peace group near Pushkin Square on Now Year's

Gorbachev. In his recent remarks to tbe Patriarch and other Orthodox leaders, confirmed ihat the basic law controlling religion, enacteds being revised. The new law will reportedly make churches juridical persons with ihe tight to piovide charity andA number of administrative constraintsas tba regulation thatregister baptisms apparently are alreadyin anlicipalaoa of the draft law.criminal eodca reportedly wiU curtailoften used against believers, notably those"ami-Soviet" propaganda and Blander.moves are oppareatJy generating heatedoSeial and legal aretes, aad ibeir precisesm as yet

Other important Gorbachev policies arc swvibg an indirect, bul vital, impact on Christianity ia the USSR- For instance, overf ibe moreolitical priaorsen amnealxd7 are Caris-lian activists. Whilethers remainuge number of those released have resumed their religious activism and In boom cases are fertning the nucleus of new or rejuvenated groups of Christian, activists. For example. Jcayfajor activist for the banned Rattern Rite (Unlaw) Roman Catbotic Church ut the Ukraineormer long-termprisoner, spearheaded the signature driveetition demanding legal status for tbe church.be delivered the pctitioo personally to the Kremlin la Augustbefore his forced emigration to Canada.

Furthermore. Gorbachev's policy of gloinoit isaod Ibe media has had tbc aiMBlrssdcd effect of ioirodocsng more positive portraysb of clergy and believers into media pruducttooa aad the arts aad giving wide currency lo the Christian rciiitouOne of tbe mosi popular alms for Soviet lodi-cnont in the past three useiclear and powcrfsl Chrfstiaa symbols to counter Ihe me less power and terrortalinist dictator. No among many literary works In this genreovelamous Central Asian writer that has beenin rVcsvyy mlr. The novelod-see king hero who finds meaning by savins, drug addicts through Cbriailan morality



on unprecedented Kremlin meeting oneneral Secretary Gorbachev discussed the coming Millennial celebration with Patriarch Pimen. four senior btshopt of the Synod, and the head of the CRA. Konstanlln Kharchev. He noted Soviei regime steps io support ihe church. Including ihe return to church ownership and reconstruction of the Danilov-skiy Monastery. He acknowledged the church'sto Russian hlslory. In addition, he admitted that "not everything was easy and simple" Inrelations. He noted that churches hadthe "tragic" events of the Stalin period,those "mistakes" are being rectified."We clearly see the entire depth ofbut the believers are Soviet people,patriots, and ihey have full tight to expresswiihe pledged that the newdrafted on freedom of conscience ^flltInterests of religious

J i-j

ill1 j.r ll pi

Kie* raceattery.aw: apaartaiiy komontrnUint ralttloa. with an aye to 'reilituc lr and ntncaiioiul aeUrluei by thurehu

mmmt luate^ rj,ad icUnt Uinta la danandinr Uliatrt' riibu. St vail laotMil aretnltitletat rcpruuttloieeeo* tad ia latvtt tad the Ukraine kwva appealed la iSbcrUiaa lar taanete I" [ilt'joo in unproac tha tunu ind arealen tbe


Eattera Kile Beaua Ca'Jr.iiciacUriaier! tba topttnre ibet> titaJrrj.ii. etirda te ta* lata* mini at lati trbon Sulie ftrxJUr lioaponinl it Into iht Buutan On bod at Church la IStt.

Or-ia. Itu-.jln. ilnpaU f*

renrnatUnet bltlan ly diridtd on lew to till In their (Mia. State, lilt

Nrtuidtnt OruWa* prinu Clta Valruila, eraa aerk with CarUebcr. will* athandloWtnt N'iioii,last the liiniti by fdundlruj rrw umiMst OrudisJDef> aab attatttee rrsusa ted etanalas nawtiercala-bra Oca er*. ia Uoecsw and Ih; Ubaiac. Some betirvrst ia Hi Bs. net tArtnanU bit ukt* pan In patuicuth tacar eseiet. while etban naodearlni efteial If-itititt ef coairoliaoi tmpagaedi

. rikiiitiK

ibat w% tatm td eintrtaors ofleadartkv ini ihrMfhoul the bmti ucriq ttver lew to Kindle O'in ft illy- Thaeonni! queiliut teeein la be lhc ciuil tad th* leneih cf line, IhlL tha DiiM* itovtd atMoaracuidaU IbtCMbIow btiiavftt tad dtramtaatidi iivd how eiudl modio* ef rep tertian tta ta ftry be ilhrnd *iua*Hi Klk Ofaad ukak daatatr-luaile* Walk Oareaeno aaarai to kivt tie -rseet htad. h< nui cottend withligaificiw anaoriu opinion tlBOAl Iht Indcllr-'p and oArn euirittu rcslntna by kteal luthoriiia

nftrtrnt i% |

Poliitaio. "Second Secretary" Ligachcv appears to be ibe spokesmanelatively trad ilo religion nthin the top tacership. as eat lhc broader questions of gtainait aad poauical and cco-normc reform. HU lone hai been more negative and combative thann several counts.he hat linked religious belief lo aubveriion of the Soviet stale and condemned activists ia minority areas as "bourgeois nationalists" who "deckin religious clothing" in order to damage the state. He sharply attacked "reactionary" religions on Soviei fiontiers in Central Asia, the Ukraine, and Lithuania- Ihe centers of Islam and Roman Catholi-

KGB Chairman and full Politburo member Viktor Cbebrikov probably is also uneasy with Ihe loosening of secret pobec coor religion aad ihe decision to grant amncaiies to religious priscsMra last year. He too has stressed the "ideological subversion" tvoged by Weaicrn intelligence. Minuter of Defense Dmitriyandidate Politburodeplored Ihe tolerant portrayal of Christian belief In the Soviet media and arts, presumably because il feeds pacifist views among potential and current military cohorts. Ukrainian party Flnt Secretary Vladimir ShcherbrU say's views on the appropriate rote of Christianity are also apparently hardline. FacedtrongEastern Rite Catholic Church that it fiercely nationalist aadarge following across class lines, he has accused "religious centers abroad" of using the church for "ideological aggression "

Despite these icservstions. ideology secretarythe prime architect of giamoii and Other more nuanced dorncstic policies hn beento direct the media toore positive treatment of Christianity. While apparently opposedny "toman! hiisiior.'" of the past or nationalist exploits (tonlinoir that would allow the churches to rival party authority, he seems to favor according more legal functions to rcgitteied Christian churches and tapping Ihe creativity and hard work of loyal and norscon frontalelievers

Gorbachev and his Politburo supporters on thisgroup Ihat probably includes Moscow party boss Lev Zaykov apparently consider that mintare patriotic Soviet citizens and that the

regime ii tliong enough to contain any growth of belief. These leaden may believe Ihst tbe churches' bread appeal and proven staying power make it essential to draw these potentially rival organizations into ibe mainstream of tbe regime's reformb being attempted with tht mushrooming ynoflxial groups supportingultural,yriad of other causes.

Bur>Buctaey. Manyin tho center and in thennenthusiastic about the new leader's libera It ring strategy to curb the appeal and influence of Christianity (see inset) Accurdiagigh Soviei official spokesmen for state religious organizations are divided among themselves overlo continue the old-line, militant struggle against belief, or toadical separatioo of chords andif so. whether to legislate any supervision ovet the churches.

In any case. Gorbachev's initiatives art) often flouted by local militia snd secret police ia regions far from the capital According to one accountrosrsioeni' liberalen eeefronted with eosngstsiaisRA instructor from Moscow thai bt was obstructing lhc newocal orncial in Kirov replied, in effect: That's Moscow! But we do thins* our own way here.

Particularly in national areas such as the Ukraine and the Baltics wheretrong and closely allied with nationalist actirisan. ornciaU cootinue io drag iheir fees. Not surprisingly, given theof religion and nationalism, regional ofhculs also betray an alarmiit attitude toward tbe inroads of religion that goes beyond most statements made by members of the central leadership. For Instance, the first secretary of the Moldavian party told (heKontsoniol congress in7 that activists have increased their efforts in recent yeara to entice "politically immature- young people into illegalsects under Ibe guise of weddings sad prccou-scription parties for young military draftees As noted, foot-dragging by local authorities aod harassment of believers by provincial bureaucrats have been the subjectumber of exposes in the central press.


- .

lic Debate

heated debate overproper role In Russian hlitory and Soviei sodely I* continuing In Iht Soviet press and Intellectual circlet Altkough Gorbachev and other regime spokesmen and eammen-latort now contend lhat most ordinary belle-rett supported the Revolution and were loyal buildert of Soviet Industrlalltailon ond defenders against the Natl Invasion, the more conservative commentators focus on ihe reverse side of ihecertain clergy and "extremists"act against the homeland.

Hardliners warn that ihe churches are nowio "adapt to modern conditions" to appealore educated population and become relevantoday's needs. They charge that clever churchmen are abusing glasnost to turn the regime's new "tolerance" to tht advantage of Ike chuech

Thereurther argument over whether culture and morality owe their origins to Christianity, leading writers andwell-known poet Yevgrniyhave madeinkage have been atxuted In ihe press af Ulrtlng with religion" and reopening thesusnuuedly closed issue of God's exittenet. Ycvtuskeuko anj other writers haveIn defense of their position, asking how you can even understand Russian literary classics like Pushkin or Tolstoy without reading ihe Bible.

There are Indications lhat both sides of ihe debate are espoused among tht ordinary public, fellers to newipapers and reports of public lectures on atheism reveal alarm on the pari of some elllttns over what Ihry see as dangerous concessions to believers and an abandonment af official atheism by the regime. One angry elderly woman challenged the speakerropaganda society lecturt by asserting. The view tkai religion canrogressive role Is sheer hypoeriiyr Another questioner asked. "Why have we given up Ihe struggle Jagalnstlhercautiously suggest support for ike argumenst made by cultural figures lhat Christianlsy ii at the base af Russian civilisation and culture

Gorbachev's lateral, aa moat recently rrficclcd la bu meeting -iiho rationalize aad rtamtarise- -rather lhan to liberaluelhc trtalracat and ttatat of Ouistiaas ia lhc USSR. Bul. bccauie be hat not tet oui clearly defined limits on legitimate activity, hit initiatives ate sparking debate and copotilion.

A number of factort could have an impact on the direction of regime policy in thit area:

An Importani driving force behind regime willing-nett lo modify lit hanb policict toward reJigioa Is the recognition of the need to mobilize Soviet tocicty even al aotnc political risk. Bocaatc bu

. programs will require further ecocotrJclightened Ubor discipline and even possiNe unera-ployment with utile hope of consumer Utisftctioe In the short tcm-GortrtCucv may fed tbe need to etTsct ihese by additional orssscesuions in the area of

hacannotusk challenge to iuf the Christian craaaaa> nity rant too fast with its newfoood -freedornt,-Gorbachev will have to scale back regime

Liberalization of religious policy -ill abo depend on Ihe supporta solid majority of ihe Politburo behind Gorbachev's approach. If he can consolidate his political position, he can probably move quickly. If bit opponents remain entrenched, however, be might have to dilute the liberalizing precisions or tlrclch oui the time frame of hit concessions to Christian believers

A chill in Easi-West relations could remove an incentive to adapt internal human rights actions to gaia approval from Wesiern states, allhough the cDircni -armiag iread works in favor oftnitiaiivm




intlieaian ihould terve lo mirk whatever direction li taken by Ihe retime:

Changes in the (orlhcoming Criminal Code and other aiatuira lo broaden churches' social androles, relax constraints oo clergy, andrepression ol activist! wouldere conciliatory approach.

Any distinct shift In tbe official treatment ofactivisting them orncialr merely etcrctsing benign neglect by act stopping their activitieshe tantamount to recognition of denorninataortal legitimacy to carry on social welfare and paWkaiioo activities

A Gorbachev visil to tbc Vatican, as has been "idely rumored, or an official trip by tbe Pope to tbenow teems letsprobablyore conciliatory policyRoman Catholics in the USSR. The recent dispatch ofhigh-level Vatican detection to ibe Millennial celebrations keeps tbc channels openuture papal visit.

Increased visibility or,rackdown in use of Christian motifi and symbolism in Ihe arts artd media wouldeliable Indicator ofattitudes on the boundaries of permissible articulation of Christian sentiment

The extent to which Millennium celebrstioas next month are puMtciicd and Involve the faithful, and moredegree to which the church perpetnaies recentill be crucialof regime intentions toward SovietSo far, Gorbachev's positive remarks concerning believers' contributions to Soviet tooety in bat late April meeting with Russian Onhodot Churchtuggeti that concessions will outlast theyear.

Several farther changes that tie reportedly under consideration by th* leadership, if carried out, would indicate an even more fundamental shift In official policy toward religion. Legalisation of the Eastern Rite (Uniate) Roman Catholic Church in theonstitutional amendment legaliring religious as well as antlrcllgloui propaganda, and reversal of2 decree national) ring church properly would be

major steps toward Insiltulionsliriog Gorbachev's new initiatives on religion, snd thus militateulure radical reversal of policy

Gorbachev and those closest to him apparently think that reducing the most overt religious repression will improve society-state relations and depriveand "extremists" of antable and productive sector of society back into tbe economic and social mainstream, outis ptaying with fire in seeking tbe supportraditionalival that aaiarally reinforces the nil oo list impulse in sensitive bcrOcrtaed areas and in Ibe Russian heartland For instance, further nationalist disturbances ia the Caucasus and the Baltic--where clergymen hsvc been indirectly-arid growing religious aetrrism in the Ukraine and Moidavii could rsresea: an occasion for coercive reactiononservatively biasedand stsrt snother round in Ihc historical cycle of official retain! ion and repression of Christianity.eurrrnt indicatois are pointing in ibe other direction, the poliiical trade-offi needed to astute supportroad reform program in other areas' could cripple Gorbachev'i liberalising initiativesthe churches

Because the question of tbe rose of Christianity is so sensitive with respect to party legitimacy and to closely tied io national ideniiiy and aspirations fai both Russian and minority cultures, the success or failure of Gorbachev's smw strategy trillarometer of bis political strength. Tbc difficulty of articulating snd td ministeroherent and positive policy toward the est arches and unregistered groups couldreported differences within tbe lopespecially with "Second Secretary" Ligacbev sad KGB chief Cbebrikov -over elements of reform,those that touch on lhc explosive mix of religion and nations In m

In short, Gorbachev ind his allies willeft sense of liming, as well as careful monitoring and adjustments to hit policy, if be it toanner surge in the strength and prestige of Christiantca kul it ion by Christian acllviitt causing ihem lo press foi even greater concessions,acklash from conservative ideailoguni.


noBiiiutsaeis in (be USSR


Rusataa OnboOo. Cixl (ROC) Feeuuted:D.

Sumter of AVgirrrwrf

o.llmakj.il il

the largest Christian denomination in the USSR.

LrgafOflVetally registered with the Couodl for Rdicioua Attainlcrarchal structureoly Synod headedatriarch. It baaioceaea, led byetropolitans, and arch-bishopi: eight monasteries and I} convents, plus the recently icopened Danilovsby Monastery in Moscow; and an unknown but apparently growing number of clandestine congregations and splinter (roups.of World Council of Cburchea (WCCl

Rrlaiieus With sTeglsmeselatively favored pcaiiioo among dene-mion* and bat perrrtratton for pubUcation (idlitiea. reiteration of anoent churches, and foreign travel, panicularly ia coeunnctJon with them TW Patriarch aad many clergy reportedly are KGB ecJUboraiort, bat some clergy reportedly disagree with the policy of ccoperelioo with the state or have become open dissidents.

Training of Clergy: Three tcminariesonx-ipondence course. Two theolotical academic* train church otndab and seminary professor*.

Legal Status; Legally registered churches In the Russian. Moldavian. Beloruisian. and Baltic

Organization; Has oo central organization in the USSR and maintains ooly poor official contact with the Vatican. It bas three bishops. Only Lithuanian dioceses arc functioning somewhat normally.congregations served by secretly ordained priests and nuns.

Relations With Regime: Hostile; traditional regime distrust Intensified by the clergy's role in Baltic nationalist dissect. Official propaganda portraysclergy as "rttrcmisl" conspirators with Western intelligence and the Vatican.

Training of Clergy: Only one legalaboultudents, but some priests are reportedly trained abroad and others are-assigned officially to parishes io Poland.hronic shortage of priests.

Artnenlan Apostolic (larch Femadesk XI AD.

Number uf Registered Congregations: 99

Estimated Homier of Bet lerm:illion

Legal Slilts: Legally registered, independentchurch. No reported under ground groups. Member


Catholic Church Founded: Date unknown

Humber af Registered

Estimated Number ofillion


Hicrarchal structure, headed by the CalhoUcos of Ecltmiadrin. li claims jurisdiction over the faithful la the diaspora, not all of whom render allegiance. Like the Georgian church,ndepen-dent of the Riiuum Orthodoi Church- ll has six moo aj lories.

lk Regime! Slannchly rationalist. Whileo weJl-documenied link to rationalist groups,ome overlap with human righuidespread religious revival since tbeedourfold increase in baptisms, even of party members* children. It has some fiscal independence due to faithful abroad.

Traiaiag of Clergy: It bas one theological institute.

Georgian Orthodox Founded: C..

Number of Registered Congregations: 80

Estimated Number of

Legal Slants: Registered rational church, operatingie language ofeorgian. No reported underground church or unregistered con gregatioos.

Organization: Itierarcbal structure on the model of ROC but completely imlependent of it. Headedatriarch.

Relaltoas Wllk Regime: Like the Armenian church, il antedates tbe ROC and has an independent history. The hierarchy has generally beeo compliant to ibe state, but the lower clergy and laity are strongly nationalist. Several Georgian human rights dissidents ere also religious activists.eligious revival among nationalbts appat eitlyassive media attack and KGB subversion of the hierarchy.


Founded:th century

Number of Registered

Ettlmestd Number of

Legal Status: Tbe vast majority ofstonia and Latvia) are registered; but there are some unregaiered congregations in Russian-settled areas of Central Asia and the Soviet Far East. Most members are of German descent. Member WCC.

Organitationi Latvian and Estonian churches are strongly national bul have recently begun inierrepub-lie relations.eaded by an archbishop of national origin.

Relations With Regime: The churches haveraditionally qoietbt policy toward state control, until recently. There arc some signs of differences between higher and lower level clergy, with senior clericsassive stance toward public issues.

Training af Clergy: There is aa acute shortage of pastors. The church has one seminary in Latvia and one in Estonia, supplemented by evening classes in Latvia.

Evar^eUcsJ Oa-blUrts-Baptists

Number of Retltiered

Estimated Number afillion

Legal Status:4 Union of EvangelicalBaptists united Baptists and Evangelicals.Pentecostal and Mennonite groups have since joined.fficially registered with CRA. Member


of Clergy: The church educates and ordains clergy independently. According to theew ecclesiastical academy, with Instruct loo Inwill soon open in Tbilisi.

Ii ii nonhicrarchai. congregational.congrega lions select preach en and presbyters, determine local religious activiiy. and elect central leaden. The Central Union Council iermenccs and coordinates local eongresra lions; ii rnainUirts it tons links with Baptists in the West.

Relation! With Regime: Relations ere cool batll is often included id international gatherings, and iu leadcnhip is probably co-opted byegal journal and reportedly has been allowed to open the first "amateur" (nonsUte) video recording studio In Moscow.

Training ofcrrrespondence courses have been given for new presbyters. Bul the great majority of tbeulUlme0 part-time preachers are self-trained laymen.

Mainstream, IDegal Deoomlmiboiri

Eastern Rite Roman Calbolk (Unsatc)6

Somber of Registered Congregations: None

Estimated Number afillion

Legal Status: Not registered with the CPA, exists only underground. Petition*7egal sUlus were signed by thousands of clergy and Uliy.

ince forcible absorption Into the ROCt haslandestine denomination. Strongly nationalist, concentrated In the western Ukraine,erved by an extensive network of clergy (reportedlyishopst has been able to exchange information with the Vatican and adberenU In the West through religious saminlat (notably the Chronicle of the Catholic Church In ihe Ukraine).

Relations With Regime: Extremely hostile. Iuopen support for Ukrainian separatismiu historic rivalry vdthchurchby Moscow. Official propaganda portrays clergy and activists as conspiraton wilh ihe Vatican and Western intelligence services.

Training of Clergy: Priesis are secretly trained and ordained. There is no seminary within the USSR.

Radical or FundiDegal Dcsominatlorti

Seveath-DaT AdseatUts6

Number af Registered Congregations: Unknown

Estimated Number

Legal Status: Mosi congregations are not registered and operate clnrtdestiriely. Tbeca lions of congregations are Latvia. Estonia, the Ukraine, and Moldavia.

Organisation: Neither central organization norclergy. Localbased on hereditary membenhip and rrcruitment amongcoordinated by traveling senior believers.

Relations With Regime: Allhough tbestale power, relations are quite hostile,1 lhc organizational craterdlaolvcd because of alleged illegal activity, aod conUct withabroad was Stifled. Doctrioes of refusalii tary service and keeping tbe Sabbath on Saturday have increased regime hostility. Believers are harassed in army Ubor brigades and civilianegister ed) Reform Adven tilts advocate non-involvement in society or even draideal religious activism. Tbey have been subjected to harshall three leaden0 died In Ubor camps.

Training af Clergy: There is no formal serainarr. tbe church recognizes the "priesthood of allhere is some Informal training of elders. .

IrditUtliwlM or Reform Baptists


Number of Registered Congregations: None



Number of Bel

Left Siasuu Not registered with CRA; all congrega


Organization: NonhiciarchicaL Fanned outeep schism within the. Evangelical Christian-Baptist Church1 conccrninf relations wilh the state. Congregations ere autonomous; the theology is radical and requires active rsroselytizJng. Several attempts at recxMudlUtion with legal Baptists, apparentlyby the CRA, havo failed.

Relations Wiih Regime: Extremely and openlyIt Is uiKomr-romitiflgly separatist from tbe stale and its educational, military, andrea iscra tic systems. Its sirict beliefs and radical rejection of state authority have resulted ia withdrawal to Isolated communities and pressure for emigration. Civilmarks congregations in the Soviet Far East. Many refuse military service- Many clergy ere jailed; all members suffer severe harassment.

Training ef Clergy: Presbyters are self-trained and ordained by congregations.

Wilh Regime Separatism fromSoviet aocicty and complete independence from the Stale make relations hostile. Members are harassed, and many arc jailed. Il publishes an Illegal journal end operates at least one secret printing press.

Training of Clergy: No institutional training is known to exist.


Jehovah's WUxnn


Number of Rrgiilrred Congregations: None

Estimated NainmerafB'Uivertl0

Lagal Status: Illegal, oortspl tutorial. Criminsllysinceembers were deported, and tbe church wis lebjected lo acampaign

of RrglilrreJ Congregations! Unknown

Estimated Number of Believers.

Legal Status: With few exceptions, congregations are unregistered and clandestine.

Organisation:as an elaborate hie rare hai structure arid is closely tied to the parent church in the United States. The USSR Regional Committee isfrom Poland. Local groups0embers meet secretly to study Watehtemer mags line, which is distributedlandestine network.

Congregational alrwcrerr of largely autceuimetu local groups. Probably less than halfof the exsagrega lions belong to the Union of Evangelical Ccjistisns-Baptists. Then is Utile communiesiioa among congregations, largely because of enirj jiKi of activists to Europe and th* United Slates. Itierarchical structure within coogrega tioos withpowerful presbyters and extensiveof members. Congregations worship secretly in homes or in ihe open elr, changing locationsto escape detection.

Relations Wilh Regime: Mutualeantagonism mark relations. Members consciously reject secular society (unlike Peetrcosiala and Advent-ista, who passivelythe Soviei system).expansion among labor camp and called peeusla-lions in Central Asia and Siberia has alarmed the regime.tciats have attempted lo lure other radical sectseform Baptists, even Ad ven lists) by offering legal registration, no flexibility is apparent toward Witnesses.

Clergy* Lay group leader, arenderground schools, following precepts of Wotehto er and insimcilom from abroad.

Major IWOrrtadaa Reason* in IW USSR Islam

Number of Reghtered, including about JO million believer*.

r<.'Nmmwier af Belieren: Uptuluon nominally afluuted.

locations: Centralrn* part* of Weatern St.bc-ria and the Caucasus

t ia legally recognliod. Moreover, unoffieisl mullahs perform illegal folk ceremonies, often Quite openly.


< m Sunnigreat majority of Muslims in tbeunder three spiritual directorates for Wesiern Siberia, Central Asia, and tbe aortberB Caucasus. Thereourth directorate for Sub (Shite) Muslims in tbe Tianscatscasus. No central body unite* them; all report directly to CRA.

iih Regime: Soviet med i* harshly attack unofficial mullahs as "supeettitk-ii" andhe regime It apparently concerned over possible inroads byental til Islamicfrom Iran and an apanrgc iat couniert wilhinltrnational lalamic gatherings in Soviet Central Asia.

Traiaiag af Clergy: There is one theological school aad an Islamic laatliaie; together Ihey traino SO student! per year.


Number of Regitiered

lueaiiom: Groups are In urban centers throughout the USSR, concentrated io Moscow. Leningrad. Minsk, andhere arc also some oocamaniiies in Georgia and Cardialbe Jewish Autonomous Regwa in lhc Soviei Far East (establishedid no" succeed ia attracting6 the Jcwohhad dvnodkd toooe-fifteenth of the total).

Legal Sterna; legally registered, with SO operaystasragttes.

Organltatton: No conlral ttracture la the USSR; based ia localo known underground synagogue* exist, secret Hebrew clasac* are gjveo in majoreportedly, one or two Hebrew claatci in

Baku. Azerbaijan, have been allowed to operate Opealy.

Relations with Regime: Otnciat attitade* arehostile, complicated by pressure for emigration. Rdau tioo oa emigration aad culture haveerated policy toward Jadak reiigtoo oigtiincanily.

Trotting ofof rabbit

osi arc of advanced age. Then I* one seminary in Moscow. Two rabbis were recently allowed to train In the United Sutes and others reportedly in Eastern Earope,


Number of Regiitrred Congregations: Unknown

Estimated Number of

1artivi: Traditional locations near MocgolU and lower Volga regionecent coavrnloos

of young peopk have spread ibe faith into European

Russia aad tbe Baltic repuNic*

Legal Siotas: Lcgil, although all monasteries were destroyed ut.

Number ofillion

"im Mr1

regime ota Wished the Spiritual

inistration of lluddhisls0 ai watchdog.

RtUiitme With Rt-tima Eshnically oriented official icprcu>on ii probably baaed in lhc tustoiK antipathy of Russians toward tbeir andent Mongol titesny. Conversion! ol Slavic aad Batik yowlh ercaie added regime hostility

Training of Clergy: Since ill virtual institutional destruction in, illegal contact! with dergy in Mongolia probably bave aided mining. Since lM0.someituden.ts(l3ave been permiiied to study legally in Mongolia.



Original document.

Comment about this article or add new information about this topic: