The Bolsheviks never were too fond of the Russia Orthodox Church. To be politically correct, they loathed it. Orthodoxy is something that has been a staple in Russia since 988, over one thousand years. Considering its ties with the country, it was not something that was just going to leave by itself, and The Bolsheviks knew this. At the beginning of the Revolution, Bolshevik leadership saw the church as one of its main enemies, because of its ability to spread word to so many peasants in such a short matter of time. Therefore, they strongly targeted its destruction to try and lead to its demise.
The Czar, according to old Russian Orthodox philosophy, was God’s official ruler. Those who hated the Czar usually hated the Church as well, because they went one in the same. Just how the Catholics have a Pope, the Russian Orthodox Church has something similar, but he is called a Patriarch. Together, the Patriarch and the Czar would rule Russian hand in hand, one focusing completely on the religious aspect while the other did everything else. Religion was mandatory, and those who were lucky enough would even be sent to schools with a focus on religious education (sponsored by the church). The Czar would also use the Church to spread information; priests would give sermons that supported what he was doing. Together, the system worked elegantly.
With the emergence of communism into the political scheme, the church came under attack. One of the first thing that the Bolsheviks did was convert the Christian private schools into education reform centers. So all those children who used to be learning about religious matters, quickly learned how the church was hindering reform. Young children all across the country were placed in to this exact scenario. Next, they destroyed the churches control of religion by passing the Freedom of Conscious Law, making it so you no longer had to be Russian Orthodox. The church fought back by excommunication many Bolsheviks, but this was a weak punishment to those who did not even care in the first place. Clergy also tried to raise moral again the Bolshevicks by attacking their ideology from the pulpit, but words only went so far against an armed Revolution.
This move by the Bolsheviks had an enormous impact on the people of Russia today. Although most are somewhat offiliated with the Church, it does not have a presence anything like it did in the past.
You did a great job with this post about the Bolsheviks’ hatred for the Church. Religion is not always thought of when studying the history of 20th century Russia as the political and economic issues are given much more thought. However, this idea that the Church and the Bolsheviks had a problem because they essentially wanted the same thing, which was to spread their word to the masses, is a very valid topic and you’ve made it very clear that this contentious “battle” between church and state was necessary in the ascension of Bolshevik power.
It is amazing just how much of a threat the Bolsheviks saw the Orthodox Church as. The ability to get the ‘word’ out to the people gives a massive amount of power to the side who can do it the best. While the morality of the decision to basically completely get rid of the church can be questioned, it was a smart move by the Bolsheviks in taking over Russia.
This is a great post on the relationship between the Bolsheviks and the Orthodox Church. Its very important to remember, as you stated, how closely the church and state worked together for centuries. The Bolsheviks disliked the church because of its close association with the Tsar but also because they saw it as a way to keep the “backwards” traditions of the peasants alive.
I also really liked how you capitalized on the bad relationship between the Bolsheviks and the Orthodox Church. I thought you also did a good job of highlighting the emergence of communism into the political scheme, which caused the church to come under attack. These actions only worsened feelings between the two.
Hey Dan! I really enjoy this post from you this week and I think that it highlights a momentous change in Russian culture. As you emphasized in your post, the Bolsheviks sought to rid the Orthodox religion of its power of the peasants of Russia. One thing that stood out to me in the segment about religion on the Seventeen Moments in Russian History site is the quote included from Karl Marx; the site states that the Bolsheviks shared Marx’s view that religion acted as the “opium of the people”. This quote, to me, stresses the Bolsheviks’ belief in the detrimental power of religion. They believed that it had the power to take control of the hearts of the people and, more importantly, lessen the ability of the party to get control. Your post does a really good job of showing how the Bolsheviks radically influenced Russian culture by diminishing the power of the Orthodox Church. Great job this week!