Religion under Gorbachev. Church & State in the USSR and Putin’s Russia. Communists rejected atheism


Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the former Soviet Union, died on August 20th . Gorbachev is credited with introducing key political and economic reforms to the USSR but he is also known for reversing course on religion. First, Gorbachev condemned religion and spoke about the importance of atheistic education but in 1988 he decided to invite religion back into public life. This video discusses what happened in the last years of the Soviet era and how the Communist Party abandoned their atheistic project. The return to religion has made atheism itself an undesirable element within the Soviet government. Video also discusses short-term religious revival after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the current situation of church & state relations in modern Russia under Vladimir Putin. To a greater degree, the review is based on a book by historian Victoria Smolkin: A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism by Princeton University Press. This book is not about religion and not even about atheism as a philosophical idea, but about atheism as an ideological project in the service of Soviet politicians.

Link to part one: Religion in the USSR – A history of Soviet atheism –
Part two: Positive Atheism in the USSR (1960s-70s) –

Please, support Religiolog through a one-time donation:
Or become my Patron:
Link to the book by Victoria Smolkin: A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism –

#soviet_atheism #soviet_secularism #gorbachev #soviet_union #secularism

Smolkin, Victoria. 2018. A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism. Princeton University Press.
Luehrmann, Sonja. 2011. Secularism: Soviet Style. Teaching Atheism and Religion in a Volga Republic. Indiana UP.
Irina Papkova. The Orthodox Church in Russian Politics (Oxford University Press, 2011).
Borowik, Irena 2002. ‘Between orthodoxy and eclecticism: On the religious transformations of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.’ Social Compass. 49(4): 497-508;
• Kaariainen, K. 1999. ‘Religiousness in Russia after the collapse of communism.’ Social Compass 46 (1): 35-46.
• Need Ariana and Evans Geoffrey 2001. ‘Analyzing patterns of religious participation in post-communist Eastern Europe.’ British Journal of Sociology. 52(2): 229-248.
• Norris, Pippa and Ronald Inglehart 2004. Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Ronald Inglehart. 2021. Religion’s Sudden Decline What’s Causing it, and What Comes Next? Oxford University Press.

Positive Atheism in the USSR (1960s-70s). Religion in the USSR. Soviet secularism | part 2 – book review of Smolkin (The Institute of Scientific Atheism under Brezhnev)


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.