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Communists Go Up And Down:

Yo-Yo Tactics Regarding Religion

By Father James Thornton

The following article consists of major extracts taken from a larger

article published first on July 16, 1990, in the New American and
entitled "Pragmatic Atheists". It is important for our readers to be able
to more fully understand what is going on in Russia and other
communist countries today so that they realize more clearly that only
Our Lady can help us at this time. This is especially true today when
even many Catholic newspapers and Church officials are confused by
the yoyo policies (up again down again) of the Communists regarding
Consider for a moment the following headlines, based on news stories
emanating from the USSR: "Thousands of Churches Reopen in the Soviet
Union"; "Monasteries and Convents Allowed to Organize"; "Government Lifts
Ban on Church Seminaries"; "Soviet Government Appeals to Church Leaders to
Assist in Regeneration of the Motherland." Interesting, are they not? Did
anyone, a few decades ago, ever think that we would live to see such stories?
Imagine, the militantly atheistic Soviet regime giving freedom to believers and
asking the Church's help to rebuild the country!
From yesterday's newspaper, right? Wrong! These headlines are not
from the era of Gorbachev and glasnost. They are taken from stories
reported almost fifty years ago, during the height of the bloody reign of
Joseph Stalin - the greatest mass murderer in the history of mankind
and religion's most determined foe. How is this possible?

New Policy Toward Religion?

On June 22, 1941, the USSR was unexpectedly attacked by Adolf Hitler's
Germany. Initially, the German offensive was an enormous success. For several
months it appeared that it would end swiftly in victory. Russians, Ukrainians,
and others at first believed that they were being liberated.
To prevent the citizenry of the Soviet Union from rising as one man during the
invasion and obliterating the Bolshevik regime, its henchmen, and the entire
apparatus of communist terror, Stalin engineered what then appeared to be an
historic break from communist doctrine. With fiendish cleverness he surprised
the world by launching a new policy toward religion.

Previously, throughout the 1920s and '30s, Soviet policy had aimed at the total
elimination of religion from the national life. Virtually the entire Church
hierarchy had been murdered, incarcerated, or forced into exile. Tens of
thousands of priests were killed. Monasteries and convents were closed and
their inhabitants consigned to forced labor camps.
Most local parishes had been shut down, and huge numbers of church buildings,
some dating back to the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, were demolished.
Before the Bolshevik Revolution there were nearly 60,000 parishes in the
Russian Empire. By 1941, just prior to the German assault, only several
thousand of these parishes remained.
Despite all of this carnage, Stalin had ingeniously kept alive a handful of bishops
and priests as trump cards for possible use in the future. These were not
clergymen noted for their forthright resistance to communism. Quite the
contrary. For the most part, and especially in the higher ranks, they were the
"Sergianists," the followers of Metropolitan Sergius, who had stated in 1927 that
the Russian Orthodox Church must maintain absolute loyalty to the Soviet State
and Soviet leadership:
"Your joys are our joys, your sorrows our sorrows," he wrote in his infamous
declaration of submission to Soviet control.
Incredible as it now sounds, Metropolitan Sergius even went so far as to deny,
in a public sermon from the steps of his own altar in 1930, that any believers in
the USSR had ever been persecuted for their faith. The thousands of clergy who
failed to support the pro-Soviet, Sergianist position were automatically regarded
as enemies of the people and swiftly executed.

"Soviet Church"
Late in 1941, therefore, with the USSR fighting for its existence and with
desperate need to win public support at home and mislead public opinion
abroad, Stalin trotted out his waiting "Soviet Church" for all the world to see. A
"Patriarch" - in the person of Metropolitan Sergius himself - was enthroned.
Several thousand parishes were reopened. Throughout the '40s and '50s - that
is, during the war and its immediate aftermath - this official Church experienced
relative calm and considerable growth. Nonetheless, it was for the most part a
grotesque charade.
Stalin hated and mistrusted all believers, including the Sergianists. Thus
liturgical services alone, celebrated on a more or less regular basis, constituted
the full extent of approved activities. Officially proscribed by Stalin's 1929 "Law
on Religious Cults" were such things as teaching religion (especially to the
young), Church charitable activities, pastoral visits to the sick, religious
education, auxiliary Church societies of any kind, religious libraries, religious

publishing of any sort, outdoor religious processions, and the participation of

minors in Church services or even in choirs or as altar boys. In other words,
those things that make religion an integral part of the fabric of daily life
were prohibited.
The official church that Stalin built to help in the war effort acted as a compliant
mouthpiece for Soviet propaganda, covered reassuringly in the ancient
vestments of religion. Outside this sphere, it remained in an iron strait jacket.
Instant punishment awaited any cleric who forgot, even for a moment, who was
Along with this official, Soviet-sponsored Russian Orthodox Church, quite similar
patterns were followed in establishing official, Soviet-controlled Baptist and
other Protestant Churches and, in certain major cities, rigidly-supervised Jewish
The two-pronged Soviet formula, which mercilessly attacks religion while, at the
same time, permitting small subservient Church groups to serve communist
ends, is followed elsewhere in the communist world. In Red China, for example,
the communist leadership has acted in an identical fashion in carefully
preserving a highly publicized, schismatic, "Patriotic" Catholic Church, the
hierarchy of which is not in communion with Rome.

Khrushchev's Crackdown
Beginning in 1960, Khrushchev launched a general crackdown on religion. The
communist system had by then regained its strength and confidence. The war
was long over. Rebuilding was well under way. The agencies of mass terror
again held sway. And a puppet church no longer served the Soviet Union's
Once again thousands of parishes were closed. The establishment and operation
of seminaries were forbidden. Atheistic propaganda was stepped up and
believers by the thousands, representing all religions, hounded into
concentration camps.
The fruits of Sergianism were bitter indeed. For all of their sickening
compromises and whining sycophancy under Stalin, the leadership of the
"Soviet Church" had gained nothing. Khrushchev proved that there could be no
genuine modus vivendi between religion and communism.
We see in this overview of the history of Soviet relations with the Russian
Churches a certain model, broad patterns and principles that govern communist
tactics and that typify the communist mentality. On the one hand, communism,
by its very nature, remained the relentless enemy of God and of religion,
regardless of the form in which religious belief manifests itself.

As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn writes: "Within the philosophical system of Marx and

Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving
force, more fundamental than their political and economic pretensions."
On the other hand, during times of crisis, when the communist state is
threatened, communism is more than willing to seize whatever weapons are at
hand to assure its ultimate survival, whether these be modest concessions in
military affairs, "democratic reforms," or certain tightly circumscribed, but
highly advertised "freedoms" for religious groups.
What we see on television news programs or read in our newspapers about
"revolutionary changes" in Eastern Europe, and especially in attitudes towards
religion, should come as a surprise to no one. A careful reading of history tells
us that these changes are nothing new at all.

One of the chief weapons that

Communist Russia is using
against the West in its
unchanged goal of world
domination is lies, half-truths
and disinformation. That
Glasnost and Perestroika are
such a fraud is demonstrated by
the above pictured KGB
defector's book published in
198.1. This book outlines those
tactics of disinformation several
years before they took place.

(This book is available from The

Fatima Crusader)

Demonic Hoax
Communism is a demonic hoax, an "ideology" of serpentine deception. A
combination of verbal legerdemain, subterfuge, and terror on the grandest scale
in history, it is everything it claims it is not and it is nothing it pretends
to be.
It follows quite naturally, then, that for the intelligent, dedicated communist, the
graver the crisis, the more elaborate and colorful must be the "Potemkin
villages" - the more serious the threat, the more comprehensive must be the
cosmetic "perestroika." Faced with virtual economic collapse and a population
that has "had it," communism is using its facility for the lie and its expertise in
propaganda in new and unheard-of-ways. But only the trappings are new. The
trick is an old one.
Religion is, apart from its spiritual significance, a vital and extremely powerful
element in a nation's cultural psyche. If handled carefully it can, on a temporary
basis, prove extremely valuable when employed to serve communist goals. At
the same time, as soon as religion no longer plays a functional role in
communism's plans, it is easily liquidated, along with the "useful idiots" who
temporarily serve its ends.
SOVIET UNION: As in 1941, the Soviet State today must deal with an
alarmingly threatening crisis. This time it is not an invader who poses a danger,
but the catastrophic insufficiency of a basket-case, socialist planned economy
coupled with an extremely expensive drive to build an irresistible,
overwhelmingly superior Red Army.
To prevent collapse and to enable the continuation of military buildup, it is vital
that world socialism receive, without delay, a massive injunction of hard
currency in the form of Western aid, investment, and funds generated by
favorable trade arrangements.
To execute such a scheme, it is a prerequisite (as it was in Stalin's day) that the
West be anaesthetized. This is being accomplished very simply, by convincing
everyone that "changes" are taking place. Since communism's foremost enemy
has always been religion, what better way to gull the credulous Westerner than
by appearing to seek a rapprochement with religious believers? By deliberate
intent, then, much of the steam has gone out of the campaign - begun by
Khrushchev and continued through the early years of Gorbachev - to discourage
the practice of religion in the USSR.

It cannot be denied that many of the restrictions formerly placed on religion

have been lifted. The current Gorbachev strategy seems to be to channel
religious feeling and growth towards groups that are officially approved and, so
to speak, "licensed" and directed by the Soviet state. These groups include
Orthodox, Catholic, Baptist, and Jewish religious organizations.
In the Russian Orthodox and Baptist Churches, as in the Jewish religious
groups, the old, pro-regime officeholders still maintain their power. Even under
Gorbachev, the Catacomb Orthodox Church of Russia and the heavilypersecuted, underground independent Baptist Churches have flatly refused to
come out of hiding and to join with their co-religionists in government-approved
bodies. This fact speaks volumes about glasnost as it touches upon religious

Bishop Paul Vasylyk and Josep

Terelya recently came to visit
Father Gruner at our T V studio.
Both the Bishop and Josep
confirm that Russia is still
persecuting the Ukranian
Catholics. Josep suffered 23
years imprisonment in Soviet
prisons and work camps
because he refused to give up
his Catholic faith. He tells us
that Gorby is worse than Joseph
Stalin. We know that the
persecutions of the Church - in
open or hidden form will
continue until the Pope and the
Bishops obey the solemn
request of Our Lady of Fatima to
consecrate Russia.

The American press makes much of a shipment of one hundred thousand bibles
to the USSR. To the unthinking, this seems impressive proof of a monumental
turnabout by the Soviets. But the USSR has, according to the Soviet
government estimates, some 90 million believers. Moreover, does anyone
monitor what actually becomes of these Bibles, once they reach the hands of
ostensibly grateful, smiling communist government officials? Some do reach the
hands of believers. There is no question about this. But what percentage? Some
years ago one communist government allowed a shipment of Bibles into the
country. It was sent to a factory where it was reprocessed into toilet paper!
Stories have appeared in the Western media claiming that Church organizations
are now free to publish. Indeed, some actually now publish journals and
periodicals. But, what the media does not mention is that printing, as an
industry, is still mostly in the hands of the Party. Thus, religious groups must
pay particularly heavy premiums, often in hard currency only, for the privilege
of publishing anything. More importantly, normal distribution channels are not
open to them. One Church member who wished to subscribe to the new Moscow
Church Herald discovered that the government does not allow it to be circulated
by subscription through the Soviet post.
Meanwhile, Stalin's 1929 "Law on Religious Cults" still remains the legal
foundation under which religion exists in the Soviet Union. Protestant pastors
are still arrested for holding services in homes without government permission
or for holding services in places where minors are present.
The unauthorized use of buildings by Baptists still results in their demolition,
and desecration of wall plaques containing Scriptural passages is ubiquitous.
Believers with large families still do not receive the extra ration cards that nonbelievers automatically receive.
And untold numbers of Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant men
and women still languish, as they have for many years, in the dark, foul
gloom of the gulag, or in psychiatric torture chambers.

Christ was
mocked in
His Sacred
Kinship by
with thorns.
Russia has
for 70 years
mocked the
rights of
Christ, "the
King of
Kings and
the Lord of
Lords". This
under Mr.
Russia is
d according
to God's
own solemn
through Our
Lady of
Kingship is
still mocked
today in
Under governments of men, and not of law, that which the government gives, it
can also take away. Sooner or later the communist tyrants of Eastern Europe
and Asia will take from their religious subjects all that they have now given

How easy this usurpation of new-found freedoms will be. For these "freedoms"
are built on the caprice of communist rulers and in the gullible minds of those
who believe that evil suddenly becomes good.
Once the communist regimes have succeeded, or failed for that matter, in
getting their hands on Western capital - once they need no longer dazzle their
Western "friends" with a heavenly display of religious fireworks, while their
hands rifle the pockets of naive and awed onlookers - religious freedom in
Eastern Europe, and in other bastions of Marxism, will last no longer than
snowflakes on the blazing sands of the Sahara.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Because we were unable to find space for the whole article we
had to shorten it. It outlined the yo-yo policies of the Communists in the
Ukraine, Poland, Albania, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, East Germany,
Red China, and Romania. To obtain a complete copy of Father James Thornton's
article "Pragmatic Atheists" write us at The Fatima Crusader or phone us at 1800-263-8160.