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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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Utopia’s Orphan

Utopia’s Orphan

Soviet Atheism and the Death of the Communist Project

(p.228) Conclusion Utopia’s Orphan
A Sacred Space Is Never Empty

Victoria Smolkin

Princeton University Press

This conclusion examines the demise of the Communist project, along with its vision to create an atheist society. Over the course of its history, Soviet atheism developed through direct engagement with religion. These engagements exposed atheism's contradictions, pointing to the deeper crisis within Soviet Communism. The conclusion first considers Mikhail Gorbachev's reintroduction of religion into Soviet public life, highlighted by his meeting with Patriarch Pimen (Izvekov) and the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, before explaining why Soviet Communism never managed to overcome religion or produce an atheist society. It also discusses the political transformations of perestroika and cites the history of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow as an allegory for the fate of religion and atheism under Soviet Communism. Finally, it asks why the Soviet Communist Party orchestrated the divorce between Communism and atheism, and between the party's Communist ideology and political power.

Keywords:   Soviet atheism, religion, Soviet Communism, Soviet Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev, public life, Russian Orthodox Church, perestroika, Cathedral of Christ the Savior, political power

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