Featured Post

Militant atheism hurts all of us

Let's not forget the persecution believing Christians, just like the Jews, suffered under Communist Russia

The Jewish people are well aware of the religious persecution that took place in the USSR. More than 3 million Jews remained in the USSR following WWII. They were reviled and ostracized.

According to Konstantin Azadovskii and Boris Egerov in their 2002 article, “From Anti-Westernism to Anti-Semitism,” Stalin was directly responsible for the policy of instilling anti-cosmopolitanism with anti-Semitism. The Jewish people knew that “rootless cosmopolitans, bourgeois cosmopolitans, and individuals devoid of nation or tribe” referred to them.

The authors say Stalin’s conflation of anti-Westernism with anti-Semitism “continues to this day, at least in some measure, in post-Soviet Russia.”

There is symmetry between the Stalin persecution of the Jews 60 years ago and the stories told today by left wing ideologues who describe Israel as a colonizer and the Arab world as blameless victims of western imperialism. That conflation of anti-Semitism and anti-Westernism is part of the rise of Jew hatred, today.

While we fight this new hate, let us not forget that there is an attack on our Christian younger brothers and sisters, today, and that they, too, were persecuted in the USSR. There is a documentary in production called Martyred in the USSR, directed by Kevin Gonzales of Twelve Points Productions, that takes us back to the USSR, to eastern bloc countries where religion was attacked under communism.

Dr. Christopher Marsh of Baylor University, who is also involved in the film, said “People in Russia today also do not know of the intense persecution of Christians and Jews that occurred in the USSR, perhaps to appear more liberal or democratic to the West.” Under communism an attempt was made to wipe out all believers, which led to multi-million deaths of Jews and Christians.

The need for this documentary comes from the desire to bear witness before memories are lost. Witness names must be attached to accounts so years from now when one asks about the martyrs to religion in Russia, martyred because they believed in God in a state culture of atheism, there will be an historic account.

Vasily Vlasivich, an Evangelical Christian who refused to take an oath to the Soviet Communist Party during World War II was immediately sentenced to death but managed to escape being executed.

Nikolai Bobarykin was a pastor in a small town in the Soviet Republic. He went to the gulag twice in his life for simply being a pastor.

R. J. Rummel, Professor Emeritus at the University of Hawaii,  researched the deaths of civilians under Marxist rule:

“The consensus figure for those that Joseph Stalin murdered when he ruled the Soviet Union is 20,000,000. Considering that Stalin died in 1953… it did not include – camp deaths after 1950, and before 1936; executions 1939-53; the vast deportation of the people of captive nations into the camps, and their deaths 1939-1953; the massive deportation within the Soviet Union of minorities 1941-1944; and their deaths; and those the Soviet Red Army and secret police executed throughout Eastern Europe after their conquest during 1944-1945 is omitted.”

John Das, a medical student, took an interest in the history of religion in the Eastern bloc and discovered “Militant atheism was a cause for disaster in the entire Eastern Bloc leading to the persecution of millions of believers of many faiths.” He became the Lead Archivist for the film. He says

“The documentary is not meant to be a political film, but rather one that documents history. However, we do hope that it will cause people to think about selectively targeting religion as the scapegoat of the ills of society and that it will encourage people to stand against similar movements of militant atheism in the present, as well as in the future.”

The attacks on religion as the cause of evil continue despite the facts to the contrary. Encyclopedia of Wars authors Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod document the history of recorded warfare. From their list of 1763 wars, only 123 have been classified to involve a religious cause, accounting for less than 7 percent of all wars and less than 2 percent of all people killed in warfare. It’s estimated that more than 160 million civilians were killed in genocides in the 20th century alone, with nearly 100 million killed by the Communist states.

How sad that people in pursuit of promoting the agenda of “the evil of religion” deny the facts, even when there are eye witness accounts.

The Jewish people are painfully aware of the rewriting of history. But we have been blessed with remarkable people who have archived the most horrific events in our history from Temple times to Holocaust denial to the attacks on Israel, today, accusing the Jews of acting like Nazis, oppressors and racists. I can’t begin to imagine how much history would have been cleansed without the recording of memories.

We need to support people of conscience like Kevin Gonzales and John Das who choose to record and bear witness to evil events.

Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), a noted German philosopher and the grandfather of composer Felix Mendelssohn, wrote that historical truths and events are only witnessed once. We learn of them through those who pass down the information.

“Hence the respectability and the trustworthiness of the narrator constitute the sole evidence of historical matters. Without testimony, we cannot be convinced of any historical truth. Without authority, the truth of history vanishes with the occurrence itself.”

As John Das astutely pointed out “We know from history that the mockery of certain ethnic and religious groups often led to their persecution.”

When will that history end?

About the Author
Diane Weber Bederman is a multi-faith, hospital trained chaplain who lives in Ontario, Canada, just outside Toronto; She has a background in science and the humanities and writes about religion in the public square and mental illness on her blog: The Middle Ground:The Agora of the 21st Century. She is a regular contributor to Convivium: Faith in our Community. "