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Paragraph 58
by Oobio
Issue 9
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§ 58 of the USSR criminal codex stands for the crimes against the nation and government. It applied to every citizen in the USSR.

1917 - The revolution and the end of the Tsardom of Russia. The working mass takes over.

1924 - Lenin dies and Stalin gets a free hand.

1929 - The USSR establishes a new law, which states that the church as a religious and national institution has to be liquidated and Christianity, as an opposite phenomenon to the official atheistic ideology, has to be out rooted. In pre-Second-World-War-USSR, the first church servants start to disappear.

1940 - An organization called the Alliance of Fighting Against the Believers is established. Atheism doesn’t mean ‘not to believe in a God’, but in the USSR, it means the propaganda against the church. During this year, most of the University faculties of religion are closed down and Christianity lessons in schools come to a full stop. All kinds of religious literature are banned. The new regime is forced upon other Soviet countries by first attacking the institution of church.

1945 - All church activity is controlled by Moscow patriarchs. For those countries with the same religion (Orthodox), things are not so bad, but Lutherans and Roman Catholics have no way to survive. Orthodoxians are put under control of Moscow, and the Roman Catholic Church is declared “an offensive act based in the Vatican”. The Roman Catholic pastors are deported and are sent to Siberia.

1951 - Pentecostalists and Jehovah Witnesses are deported to Siberia because they refuse to join the army and in other ways they show their unhappiness with the existing system.

1953 - Stalin dies. The obvious repressions against the church servants end after his death. Stalin is followed by Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko and finally Gorbachev.

1955 - Khrushchev gives amnesty to the Siberia-deportees. Church activity, though, is only allowed in the countryside, not in towns or cities. Most of the real estate of churches is nationalised (taken over by government). Religious activity is controlled by attorneys assigned by the KGB. The black coat men (the diminishing name for clerics) are recruited by the KGB to become its agents. Those who don’t live up to their new role are sent to Siberia. While a “normal” citizen pays equalized tax (11% of his income), the church servant pays progressive tax (on average 33% of his income).

Beginning of the 1960s - Teachers, doctors and nursery-personnel are instructed how to influence religious people by secondary methods – through their children. Most of the magazines and newspapers start their own atheism section. The Bible is always written between quotation marks and with a small first letter.

1963 - Publication of the Atheist Manual. Amongst other things, it declares: “Religious people’s sense of reality is defected.” Religious people are:

a) having a medical condition (they typically turn into apathy and finally they will be dangerous to themselves or others)

b) they are criminals (the local church people are systematically mentally raping other people)

End of 1980s - People in the Soviet Union are demanding to have the right for religion. By the end of the decade, the USSR starts to crumble. People between the ages of 0 and 80 will be baptized; they are joining the church at a speed at which clerics can’t keep up. Sure, many of them want to finally celebrate their religion, but others just want to do something totally opposite of what was not allowed earlier.

Nowadays we are living the discussion about the relationship between Christianity and Islam. To be honest, I could be a Christian, Muslim, Judaist, you name it. While growing up, I’ve seen how religion could be the tool of protest against the rulers, even if there was no means to terrorise or to kill in the name of God. At the same time, I’m not sure, if religion has anything to do with freedom to believe.

Oobio writes and maintains the Helsinki Times site.
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