"In total, the number of Christians who were martyred under the militant state atheism of the USSR is around 12 million."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT IS MILITANT ATHEISM:

 

Militant atheism, according to Harold J. Berman, a Harvard specialist in Soviet law, was the state credo of the Soviet Union. The militant state atheism of the Bolshevik Revolution owed its origins to the Marxist-Leninist dictum that religion was the opium of the masses. As such, the goal of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was the liquidation of religion and the means to achieve this goal included the destruction of churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, religious monuments, as well the mass deportation of believers to Siberian forced labor camps, which is commonly referred to as the Gulag. Many of these houses of worship were converted into bath houses, granaries, and museums of atheism, the latter of which were constructed in order to proselytize the masses into accepting atheism. In addition, atheistic and antireligious carnivals were frequently held in order to promote the mockery of the religious and the beliefs that they held sacred.

 

 

Under the Soviet doctrine of separation of Church and state, detailed in the Constitution of the Soviet Union, churches in the Soviet Union were forbidden to give to the poor or carry on educational activities. They could not publish literature, since all publishing was done by state agencies. Churches were forbidden to hold any special meetings for children, youth or women, or any general meetings for religious study or recreation, or to open libraries or keep any books other than those necessary for the performance of worship services. Furthermore, under militant atheist policies, Church property was expropriated. Moreover, not only was religion banned from the school and university system, but pupils were to be indoctrinated with atheism and antireligious teachings. For example, schoolchildren were asked to convert family members to atheism and memorize antireligious rhymes, songs, and catechisms, while university students who declined to propagate atheism lost their scholarships and were expelled from universities. In addition, scientific theories, such as the Big Bang, which implied a creator God, were suppressed in favor of theories which were thought to support atheistic materialism.

 

By the 1960s, with the fourth Soviet anti-religious campaign underway, half of the amount of Russian Orthodox Christian churches were closed, along with five out of the eight seminaries. In addition, several other Christian denominations were brought to extinction, including the Baptist Church, Methodist Church, Evangelical Christian Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The League of Militant Atheists, founded in 1929, aided the Soviet government in murdering clergy and devout believers. In total, the number of Christians who were martyred under the militant state atheism of the USSR is around 12 million [1]. Similarly, millions of Jews, Muslims and Buddhists also sacrificed their lives for practicing their faith in the Soviet Union, in what can be said to be one of the largest and longest genocides in world history.

 

WHY MAKE THE FILM?

 

Unfortunately, many of these facts are not known to the public at large, especially because under the Communist era, individuals were not taught about their government’s policies of liquidating religious communities. In addition, the poor socio-economic climate of the Eastern Bloc nations after the collapse of the USSR has led to a lack of concern for the history of the persecution of believers under the militant atheism of the Soviet Union. Martyred in the USSR is the first documentary film to shed light of the stories of the innocents who were persecuted in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for their faith. Hopefully, this will also encourage outreach to the persecution of believers under other atheist régimes such as those of the French Revolution, the People’s Republic of China, People's Socialist Republic of Albania, North Korea, among others. In addition, it is our hope that individuals can learn from the history of the persecution of believers in the USSR and therefore, recognize the harm of a new militant atheist movement today, which promotes the mockery of the religious and the beliefs they hold sacred.