Christianity In Post Communist Europe Essay

Submitted By brandofit
Words: 2706
Pages: 11

On June 12, 1987, Ronald Regan made one of the most renowned speeches from the Brandenburg Gate; this speech would forever change the world. The most powerful man in America heroically said to Mikhail Gorbachev, “Tear down this wall!” The Berlin Wall represented more than a concrete wall, it was an emblem of communist oppression throughout the Soviet Union. This essay will explain how a spiritual wall crumbled when communism collapsed; communism hindered the growth of Christianity. The ideology of communism would rival religion within Eastern Europe and encumber the growth of religion for the next six decades. Within communism we see the rise of Scientific Atheism, a monopolized government funded religion, which would prevent all religions within the Soviet Union to propagate. Communism became the greatest antagonist that religion would ever face in Eastern Europe, but communism is a man-made economic-political theory, that would be no match for the deeply rooted religions within Europe. After the fall of communism in 1991, Christianity began to grow at a rapid rate; there was an immense revival that occurred within the post communist states.
Before we discuss how Atheism hindered the growth of Christianity, we must first understand communism. Communism derived from two German political philosophers, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In 1848, they published a book called the “Communist Manifesto”. The Communist Manifesto consisted of twelve thousand influential words that would forever change the world (Braman); from this book, we would see an empire emerge, becoming more powerful than the empire of the Khans (McConville, 542). Marx and Engels believed in a classless society, they believed that everyone within society should have equal social status; that the aristocrats would be on the same level as the middle class. Communism despised the ways of the Western world, which was capitalism. They believed in full governmental control of private property and businesses, believing this would achieve happiness within society. Marx alleged that people only believe in religion because of their economic status, he saw religion as “the opiate of the masses”; he believed in the liberation of mankind (Braman). A man named Vladimir Lenin took particular liking to Marx and Engels ideology; he would take Marxism and create a more aggressive violent version, Marxism-Leninism. The foundations of Marxism-Leninism were tremendously atheistic and anti religious (King, 324), to Lenin this was more than just an economic-political theory, it was a Weltanschauung (world view), which would help us explain the answers to the universe. The Communist Party believed that religion would disappear under the rule of communism. This would become a difficult task considering there were over fifty million believers of God within the Soviet Union (Anderson, 169); within that fifty million, there were thirty million strong Pentecostal Christians and Jehovah Witnesses (Anderson, 170). This loathing towards religion would stand steadfastly until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, in 1962 the Communist Party at its XXII Congress proposed to eliminate religion (Anderson, 170). Even up until 1984, this belief was still strong, Soviet Premier Konstantin Cherenkov said, “protect the ideological purity of young people against the pernicious taint of religion” (Heywood).
The first way communism began to hinder Christianity was by attempting to supersede God. Although communism was profoundly anti-religious and atheistic, we start to perceive connections between communism and Christianity. In fact, Karl Marx, the founder of the Communist Manifesto had parents who were Jews that converted to Christianity (Thompson, 51). Communism overtime evolved into Leninism, many claim that communism was the religion of Karl Marx, Marxism was the religion of Lenin, and Leninism was the religion of the Communist Party (Thompson, 52). The reason that Lenin resented religion was