“Religion was the Enemy”

It’s December 3rd and our countdown to the release of “Out Of The Storm” continues! First though, I would like to announce the winner of last month’s giveaway. Thank you, Sarah M., for your comment on Facebook! We still have one more e-book and a hard copy of “Out of The Storm” to give away, so please leave a comment here or on Facebook!

Coming Feb 3, 2015

Coming Feb 3, 2015

 

“He was secret police and he knew his purpose. Religion was the enemy and God, the deception. Then a glimpse of gold and silver, and the woman who wore it, threatened everything he trusted.”

For anyone who missed my blog last month, Fire in a Storm‘s main character is a member of Stalin’s “secret police” or the NKVD. One of their main occupations during the 1930s was the persecution, and attempted dismantling, of religion.

demolition-annunciation-church-labor

Demolition of Annunciation Church in Leningrad, 1929

Often in a very literal sense. In just over ten years the number of Russian Orthodox churches dropped from 29,584 to less than 500. Fire. Dynamite. And sometimes just sledgehammers.

churchbells

Wikipedia gives a good summary of the challenges for those clinging to their religion, and the general climate in which my story is set:

“In the late 1930s being associated with the Church was dangerous. Even a brief visit to a church could mean loss of employment and irreparable career damage, expulsion from educational establishments and even to arrest. People who wore pectoral crosses underneath their clothing could be subject to persecution. People could be arrested for such things as having an icon in their home [and] inviting a priest to perform a religious rite or service at home since the local churches were closed. Priests caught performing such rites were often imprisoned and disappeared forever. Massive numbers of believers were effectively imprisoned or executed for nothing except overtly witnessing their faith, especially if they were charismatic or of great stature and spiritual authority, because they were therefore undermining the antireligious propaganda.”

539px-Militant_atheist_Bolsheviks_firing_upon_a_Christian_Church_Procession_in_Astrakhan

 As stated by Stalin, “…to bring to completion the liquidation of the reactionary clergy in our country,” he initiated an “atheist five year plan.” 1932–1937 the hope was to “completely eliminate all religious expression in the USSR, and drive the concept of God from the Soviet Union.

Again allow me to flip back to Wikipedia to give you a glimpse at what this looked like:

Exact figures of victims is difficult to calculate due to the nature of the campaign and may never be known with certainty. During the purges of 1937 and 1938, church documents record that 168,300 Russian Orthodox clergy were arrested. Of these, over 100,000 were shot. Lower estimates claim that at least 25,000–30,000 clergy were killed in the 1930s and 1940s. When including both religious (i.e., monks and nuns) and clergy, historian Nathaniel Davis estimates that 80,000 were killed by the end of the 1930s. Alexander Yakovlev, the head of the Commission for Rehabilitating Victims of Political Repression (in the modern Russian government) has stated that the number of monks, nuns and priests killed in the purges is over 200,000. About 600 bishops of both the Orthodox and the Renovationists were killed. The number of laity killed likely greatly exceeds the number of clergy.”

Of course these don’t include all those who spend years, if not their whole lives in gulags, or concentration camps.

Not a safe time or place to live if you are true to your faith in Christ … which another one of Fire in the Storm’s main characters is. I can’t wait to share this story with you in two short months! Leave a comment here or Facebook for the chance at a free copy of this, and eleven other faith inspiring stories!

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