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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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The Communist Party between State and Church

The Communist Party between State and Church

Soviet Atheism and Socialist Rituals

(p.165) Chapter Six The Communist Party between State and Church
A Sacred Space Is Never Empty

Victoria Smolkin

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how socialist rituals became the Soviet state's main ideological weapon in the battle against religion. It first considers the Bolsheviks' secularization of Soviet life after the revolution, using ZAGS (Bureau for the Registration of Acts of Civil Status) as a tool, by taking over the management of birth, marriage, and death from religious institutions. However, the Bolsheviks spent little effort trying to provide socialist alternatives to the religious rites and rituals that shaped private life and communal experience. The chapter goes on to discuss the Komsomol's role in the introduction of the ritual project to the Soviet people, particularly marriage rites, and how the ideological establishment developed socialist rituals to achieve the goals of atheism. It also explores the sacralization of Soviet life through socialist rituals and concludes with a commentary on the failure of the ritual project.

Keywords:   socialist rituals, marriage rites, religion, secularization, Soviet life, Bureau for the Registration of Acts of Civil Status, religious rites, Komsomol, Soviet atheism, sacralization

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