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A Sacred Space Is Never EmptyA History of Soviet Atheism$
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Victoria Smolkin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174273

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174273.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
A Sacred Space Is Never Empty

Victoria Smolkin

Princeton University Press

This book discusses the history of Soviet atheism from the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 until the return of religion to public life in the final years of the Soviet Union. When the Bolsheviks seized power in October 1917, they were armed with a vision: to make Communism a world without religion. More specifically, they sought to remove religion from the “sacred spaces” of Soviet life. They rejected all previous sources of authority, replacing the autocratic state with Soviet power, religious morality with class morality, and backward superstition with an enlightened, rational, and modern way of life. Despite all these earnest efforts, however, Soviet Communism never managed to overcome religion or produce an atheist society. This book examines why Soviet Communism abandoned its commitment to atheism, and whether there was a relationship between the divorce of Communism and atheism, and the divorce of the state from the Soviet Communist Party.

Keywords:   Soviet atheism, Bolshevik Revolution, religion, public life, Soviet Union, sacred spaces, authority, Soviet Communism, Soviet Communist Party, class morality

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