Pictured above is the destruction of Church Belles for the valuable metal that they were made of.
In the standard Russian home prior to the revolution, no matter how big or small, there was one thing that was almost always present on the wall. An Icon corner was somewhere that you could go to pray, and was usually located in the kitchen or in a room where guests would usually be congregating. Following the Revolution though, these icons were replaced with other portraits that weren’t nearly as religious. As seen from the film Bed and Sofa, a portrait of Stalin hanged over the kitchen “blessing” the house instead. The question now arises, how was this transformation from a completely religious to agnostic society able to happen so quickly? The answer is not so simple.
It all begins at the start of the Revolution with the clergy and leadership within the church. Older members of the church, especially the Patriarch, were extremely conservative in the memorandums that they passed. They were loyal to the Tzar, and really did not want to see much change at all. The same is not as true for the the younger clergy, who felt much more sympathetic to the Bolsheviks and what they stood for. The Bolsheviks used this to their advantage by effectively fueling the fire and splitting up the church from within. Next they arrested Patriarch Tikhon, and placed him in prison for six months for conspiring against the Church. He had been corresponding with Orthodox leadership outside of Russia in hopes to get some support. With him gone, the leadership within the church was severely hurt and unorganized. Also while he was in prison, a law was passed making it necessary to register every religious event that had more than fifty people in attendance. This made it impossible to have large gatherings of people in a church, therefore limiting the churches influence. Next, the Soviet government started destroying churches or using them as storage space. A great example of this is was the destruction of the once might Cathedral, Christ the Savior, in Moscow. The video below shows its demolition and pillage of precious metals.
The last real dent came in 1929 with the creation of the new work week. It was named nepreryvnaia nedelia, and was meant to completely eliminate Sunday as a “day of rest”. Instead, the week would be five days long with one day of rest, and these weeks would be on shifts so different people had separate days off. The logic behind it was to try and to make industry in Russia into a non-stop machine, that was constantly working. It would also destroy peoples sense of which day Sunday was, and would prevent them from going to church or other religious functions. It turned out to be a complete failure, but its job was successful with taking away people from church on Sunday mornings. During this time, even more churches were closed completely and police were used to enforce these closers, usually ending in hatred of the police by the people. In the end, the Soviets beat out the church. Being associated with the church often had negative connotations, so most just stayed away from it and reverted to praying within the confines of their house or taking up the States position on the matter.