Before 1929, the churches of Russia were already facing harsh penalties under the new government. Afraid of the churches power, the Bolsheviks blamed the churches for the famine. The Criminal Code of 1923 placed harsh restrictions and penalties on the church. However, the war on the church was not over yet.
In 1929, more laws on religious organizations went into place. Although these new laws added on to the the original 1923 laws, these were more vigorously pursued than before. To encourage production, religious days off were beginning to be discouraged. Stalin introduced “nepreryvnaia nedelia” or the uninterrupted work week. This would change several different factors of the people’s everyday lives.
Because the work week was 7 days now, many other institutions–such as bath centers, education institutions, shops, etc.–were impacted. This continuous work week also had an effect on raw materials. The use of raw materials began to cause a shortage that even Stalin finally had to admit that this work week was not working. By 1931, Stalin had ended this short lived idea.
This time period also impacted the churches wealth once again. In my last blog, I talked about the Bolsheviks undermining the church’s authority and gaining control of their wealth. We see during this time period that the churches will once again be subject to removal of gold from sacred objects. In 1930, there would be a petition to remove gold from the cupolas of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. This petition would give factories “exclusive right to process gold objects which cannot be used for civilian purposes and lack historical artistic worth.”
I found this topic interesting because of the continued war against the churches. The metal from sacred items were melted down to be used in factories because they were not seen as useful to civilian life nor historically valued. Economically, this probably did benefit the Soviet Union as they were able to gain precious metals and stones. But this time period was also a defining moment in the cultural history for Russia. It would set the tone for years to come with state and church relations. I found the difference between the United States and the Soviet Union also interesting in this aspect. While they both have separation of church and state, the U.S. did not go to such extremes as the Soviet Union to make sure the church did not have power over the people.