Periodical Reviews -- By: James F. Rand

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 118:472 (Oct 1961)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: James F. Rand

Periodical Reviews

James F. Rand

Geren, Paul, “Church and State in the United States and the Soviet Union: a Comparative Study,” A Journal of Church and State, May, 1961.

What is the truth about religious freedom in the Soviet Union? Conflicting reports emerge from behind the iron curtain and equally contradictory versions come from those who travel briefly throughout that nation and form seemingly “factual” conclusions. The author who has a long and distinguished career as an educator, foreign affairs student, and service in the field of diplomacy, approaches the problem in what would seem to be the only way to get a factual solution—a comparison of the guarantees of religious freedom in the constitutions of the United States and the Soviet Union, and an examination of the way these constitutional guarantees are implemented. Since we are familiar with our own constitutional government, it will suffice here to quote that found in the Soviet constitution: “In order to insure to citizens freedom of conscience, the church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the state, and,the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of anti-religious propaganda is recognized for all citizens.” Geren points out that the purpose of the Soviet separation of church and state was to bring the death of the church while the purpose of the U. S. declaration was to insure the mutual prosperity of both the church and the state. Under Russian law churches may not own property, teach religion, exercise charity, organize parishes, and may not have any organizations specifically for children, young people, women for the purpose of prayer, “biblical or literary study, sewing, working or the teaching of religion.” No Russian citizen may join the church before the age of eighteen. The building of churches is severely restricted with only one church of any denomination in any community no matter what the size. There is only one Baptist church in Moscow, for example, although it is a city of five million. Although there is freedom of antireligious propaganda to atheists, the freedom extended to believers is only for worship, not for propaganda. Geren notes that there has been a lessening in the vigor of the campaign against religion in recent years. “Whereas Lenin was a hard atheist, Krushchev is an easy-going one…. So far as we can see from the outside, Krushchev is not determined that religion must die in the U.S.S.R. in his day. The orthodox position of communism on religion has not been given up, but it seems to have suffered some erosion.” The reader will find this article one to which he will want to refer again and again as an authoritative reference tool.

Moberg, David O., “The Suburban Church: Fat And Fruitless,” Eternity, July, 1961....

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