Communist Church/State View Sounds Sooooo Familiar
By John Lofton, Editor
In the summer of 1917, two Soviet Communist theorists, N. Bukharin and E. Preobrazhensky, wrote “The ABC Of Communism.” What they said about Communism and its incompatibility with “religion” sounds a lot like some of the God-hating claptrap we hear in our country today from anti-Christians such as Barry Lynn. Here’s some of what these two communists wrote explaining how “social development is not brought about by any kind of supernatural forces” and predicting that the “childish notion” of religion would disappear:
“The work which the bourgeoisie in its struggle with the church had left unfinished was carried to an end by the proletarian State. One of the first decrees of the Soviet Power in Russia was the decree concerning the separation of the church from the State. All its landed estates were taken away from the church and handed over to the working population. All the capital of the church became the property of the workers. The endowments which had been assigned to the church under the tsarist régime were confiscated, although these endowments had been cheerfully continued under the administration of the ‘socialist’ Kerensky. Religion has become the private affair of every citizen….. (emphasis mine.)
“Thanks to the union of school and church, our young people were from their earliest years thralls to religious superstition, this making it practically impossible to convey to their minds any integral outlook upon the universe. To one and the same question (for instance concerning the origin of the world) religion and science give conflicting answers, so that the impressionable mind of the pupil becomes a battle ground between exact knowledge and the gross errors of obscurantists…..
“The separation of the school from the church aroused and continues to arouse protest from the backward elements among the workers and peasants. Many of the older generation persist in demanding that religion should still be taught in the schools as an optional subject.
“The Communist Party fights resolutely against all such attempts to turn back. The teaching of ecclesiastical obscurantism in the schools, even though the instruction should be merely optional, would imply the giving of State aid to the maintenance of religious prejudices. In that case the church would be provided with a ready-made audience of children — of children who are assembled in school for purposes which are the very opposite of those contemplated by religion. The church would have at its disposal schoolrooms belonging to the State, and would thereby be enabled to diffuse religious poison among our young people almost as freely as it could before the separation of the school from the church. The decree whereby the school is separated from the church must be enforced, and the proletarian State must not make the slightest concession to medievalism.
“What has already been done to throw off the yoke of religion is all too little, for it still remains within the power of ignorant parents to cripple the minds of their children by teaching them religious fables. Under the Soviet Power there is freedom of conscience for adults. But this freedom of conscience for parents is tantamount to a freedom for them to poison the minds of their children with the opium which when they were young was poured into their own minds by the church. The parents force upon the children their own dullness, their own ignorance; they proclaim as truth all sorts of nonsense; and they thus greatly increase the difficulties which the unified labour school has to encounter.
“One of the most important tasks of the proletarian State is to liberate children from the reactionary influence exercised by their parents. The really radical way of doing this is the social education of the children, carried to its logical conclusion. As far as the immediate future is concerned, we must not rest content with the expulsion of religious propaganda from the school. We must see to it that the school assumes the offensive against religious propaganda in the home, so that from the very outset the children’s minds shall be rendered immune to all those religious fairy tales which many grown-ups continue to regard as truth.
“It has been comparatively easy for the proletarian authority to effect the separation of the church from the State and of the school from the church, and these changes have been almost painlessly achieved. It is enormously more difficult to fight the religious prejudices which are already deeply rooted in the consciousness of the masses, and which cling so stubbornly to life. The struggle will be a long one, demanding much stead fastness and great patience. Upon this matter we read in our programme: ‘The Russian Communist Party is guided by the conviction that nothing but the realization of purposiveness and full awareness in all the social and economic activities of the masses can lead to the complete disappearance of religious prejudices.’….
“The ordinary worker, knowing nothing of the real causes of the social happenings amid which his life takes place, readily inclines to accept the ‘will of God’ as a universal explanation. In organized communist society, on the other hand, the realms of production and distribution will no longer contain any mysteries for the worker. Every worker will not merely perform his allotted portion of social work. He will in addition participate in the elaboration of the general plan of production, and will at least have clear ideas upon the matter.
“The entire mechanism of social production there will no longer be anything mysterious, incomprehensible, or unexpected, and there will therefore be no further place for mystical explanations or for superstition. Just as the joiner who has made a table knows perfectly well how the table came to exist and that he need not lift his eyes towards heaven in order to find Its creator, so in communist society all the workers will clearly understand what they have produced with their collective energies and how they have produced it.
“For this reason, the mere fact of the organization and strengthening of the socialist system will deal religion an irrecoverable blow. THE TRANSITION FROM SOCIALISM TO COMMUNISM, THE TRANSITION FROM THE SOCIETY WHICH MAKES AN END OF CAPITALISM TO THE SOCIETY WHICH IS COMPLETELY FREED FROM ALL TRACES OF CLASS DIVISION AND CLASS STRUGGLE, WILL BRING ABOUT THE NATURAL DEATH OF ALL RELIGION AND ALL SUPERSTITION (all capitalized in the original.)
“But this must by no means be taken to imply that we can sit down at our ease, satisfied with having prophesied the decay of religion at some future date.
It is essential at the present time to wage with the utmost vigour the war against religious prejudices, for the church has now definitely become a counter-revolutionary organization, and endeavours to use its religious influence over the masses in order to marshal them for the political struggle against the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Orthodox faith which is defended by the priests aims at an alliance with the monarchy. This is why the Soviet Power finds it necessary to engage at this juncture in widespread anti-religious propaganda.
“But the campaign against the backwardness of the masses in this matter of religion must be conducted with patience and considerateness, as well as with energy and perseverance. The credulous crowd is extremely sensitive to anything which hurts its feelings. To thrust atheism upon the masses, and in conjunction therewith to interfere forcibly with religious practices and to make mock of the objects of popular reverence, would not assist but would hinder the campaign against religion.
“If the church were to be persecuted, it would win sympathy among the masses, for persecution would remind them of the almost forgotten days when there was an association between religion and the defence of national freedom; it would strengthen the antisemitic movement; and in general it would mobilize all the vestiges of an ideology which is already beginning to die out. The socialist State, when its economic apparatus has been perfected, will introduce labor service for the clergy as for all unproductive classes, so that they will have to become workers or peasants.”
A footnote: I particularly relish the allusion here at the end to when the socialist State’s economic apparatus “has been perfected” when, of course, this specific socialist State is deservedly on the ash-heap of history — the place we are headed if we do not stop hating God (Psalm 9:17.)