League of Militant Atheists

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The membership card of the League of Militant Atheists (Cyrillic: Членский билет Союза воинствующих безбожников)

The League of Militant Atheists was an organisation in the Soviet Union founded in 1925 in order to propagate militant atheism.[1] Joseph Stalin, General Secretary of the CPSU from 3 April 1922 to 16 October 1952, patronized the League of Militant Atheists, which was led by Yemelyan Yaroslavsky.[2][3] The organisation promoted the five day working week, ensured that Christian clergy did not visit believers in their homes, and supervised the establishment of the League of Militant Atheists in the army.[4] The League of the Militant Atheists also organised antireligious parades and carnivals with mock Christian priests and Jewish rabbis.[5] It also arranged for the public burning of icons, as well as competitions between baptised and unbaptised infants.[5] The practice of "Godless Meteorology" was used to demonstrate their conviction that prayers do not alter the weather.[5]


Emblem of the League of Militant Atheists of the USSR (Емблема Союза воинствующих безбожников СССР)
  1. Earle E. Cairns (2009). Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church. Zondervan. Retrieved on 10 November 2011. “A League of Militant Atheists was founded in 1925 to circulate atheistic propaganda.” 
  2. Michael Hesemann, Whitley Strieber (2000). The Fatima Secret. Random House Digital, Inc.. Retrieved on 9 October 2011. “Lenin's death in 1924 was followed by the rise of Joseph Stalin, "the man of steel," who founded the "Union of Militant Atheists," whose chief aim was to spread atheism and eradicate religion. In the following years it devastated hundreds of churches, destroyed old icons and relics, and persecuted the clergy with unimaginable brutality.” 
  3. Paul D. Steeves (1989). Keeping the faiths: religion and ideology in the Soviet Union. Holmes & Meier. Retrieved on 4 July 2013. “The League of Militant Atheists was formed in 1926 and by 1930 had recruited three million members. Five years later there were 50,000 local groups affiliated to the League and the nominal membership had risen to five million. Children from 8-14 years of age were enrolled in Groups of Godless Youth, and the League of Communist Youth (Komsomol) took a vigorous anti- religious line. Several antireligious museums were opened in former churches and a number of Chairs of Atheism were established in Soviet universities. Prizes were offered for the best 'Godless hymns' and for alternative versions of the Bible from which ... the leader of the League of Militant Atheists, Yemelian Yaroslavsky, said: "When a priest is deprived of his congregation, that does not mean that he stops being a priest. He changes into an itinerant priest. He travels around with his primitive tools in the villages, performs religious rites, reads prayers, baptizes children. Such wandering priests are at times more dangerous than those who carry on their work at a designated place of residence." The intensified persecution, which was a part of the general terror inflicted upon Soviet society by Stalin's policy, ...” 
  4. Sabrina Petra Ramet (2005). Religious Policy in the Soviet Union. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved on 10 November 2011. “Local public and voluntary organisations - the Komsomol, the Young Pioneers, workers' Clubs and, of course, the League of Militant Atheists - were encouraged to undertake a whole range of anti-religious initiatives: promoting the observance of the five day working week, ensuring that priests did not visit believers in their homes, supervising the setting-up of cells of the League of Militant Atheists in the army. Public lampoons and blasphemous parades, recalling the early 1920s, were resumed from 1928.” 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Denis Janz (9 April 1998). World Christianity and Marxism. Oxford University Press. Retrieved on 10 November 2011. “Though this debate continued, by 1925 the Party had cast its support behind at least a sporadic effort at antireligious propaganda. The task was entrusted to Emelian Yaroslavsky and a new organization, know first as the League of Atheists and later as the League of Militant Atheists. Its motto was "The struggle against religion is the struggle for socialism." Its task was the scientific enlightenment of the masses, which would lead to the withering away of religion. Its methods ranged from "scientific" publications criticizing religious beliefs to public lectures advocating scientific atheism. It also organized cells of atheist activists on the local level. Here the propaganda techniques were more crude: public burnings of icons and religious books, carnival parades with mock priests and rabbis, and so on. The league eventually went so far as to sponsor competitions between baptized and unbaptized infants to see which would be healthier and grow faster. Similarly, contests were held to see if fields blessed by priests would flourish better than fields fertilized with manure. Also, the practice of so-called Godless Meteorology was used to demonstrate that prayers do not change the weather.” 

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