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The Russian Orthodox Church collaborated with the White Army in the Russian

Civil War (see White movement) after the October Revolution. This may have
further strengthened the Bolshevik animus against the church. According to
Lenin, a communist regime cannot remain neutral on the question of religion
but must show itself to be merciless towards it. There was no place for the
church in Lenin's classless society.[citation needed]
Before and after the October Revolution of 7 November 1917 (October 25 Old
Calendar) there was a movement within the Soviet Union to unite all of the
people of the world under Communist rule (see Communist International). This
included the Eastern European bloc countries as well as the Balkan States.
Since some of these Slavic states tied their ethnic heritage to their ethnic
churches, both the peoples and their church were targeted by the Soviet and
its form of State atheism.[62][63] The Soviets' official religious stance was one
of "religious freedom or tolerance", though the state established atheism as the
only scientific truth.[64][65][66] Criticism of atheism was strictly forbidden and
sometimes resulted in imprisonment.[67]
The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the
elimination of religion. Toward that end, the Communist regime led by such
figures as Felix Dzerzhinsky and Lavrentiy Beria of the Cheka confiscated and
destroyed church property (see Kamoyants St. Gevorg), ridiculed religion,
harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. Actions toward
particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most
organized religions were never outlawed. It is estimated that some 20 million
Christians (17 million Orthodox and 3 million Roman Catholic) died or were
interned in gulags.[68] Some actions against Orthodox priests and believers
along with execution included torture being sent to prison camps, labour camps
or mental hospitals.[69][70] The result of state sponsored atheism was to
transform the Church into a persecuted and martyred Church. In the first five
years after the Bolshevik revolution, 28 bishops and 1,200 priests were
executed.
En 1914 haba 55 173 iglesias ortodoxas rusas y 29 593 capillas, 112 629
sacerdotes y diconos, 550 monasterios y conventos 475 con un total de 95
259 monjes y monjas en Rusia.
El ao 1917 fue un punto de inflexin en la historia de Rusia y de la Iglesia
ortodoxa rusa.8 El Imperio ruso se disolvi y el gobierno zarista que haba
otorgado numerosos privilegios a la Iglesia fue derrocado. Despus de unos
meses de agitacin poltica, los bolcheviques tomaron el poder en octubre de
1917 y declararon la separacin de la Iglesia y el Estado. As, la Iglesia
ortodoxa rusa se encontr sin apoyo oficial del estado por primera vez en su
historia. Uno de los primeros decretos del nuevo gobierno comunista (emitido
en enero de 1918) declar la libertad de la "propaganda religiosa y anti-

religiosa". Esto condujo a una marcada disminucin en el poder y de influencia


eclesistica. La Iglesia tambin qued atrapada en el fuego cruzado de la
guerra civil rusa, que comenz ms tarde ese mismo ao, y muchos lderes de
la Iglesia apoyaron al que, en ltima instancia, lleg a ser el bando perdedor (el
movimiento blanco).

La Iglesia Ortodoxa de Rusia apoy al Ejrcito Blanco en la guerra civil despus


de la Revolucin de octubre y esto fortaleci, an ms, la antipata bolchevique
contra la Iglesia. De hecho, ya en 1905, Vladimir Lenin, lder del Partido
Bolchevique, reprendi a la religin en Novaya Zhizn en 1905 "... La religin es
el opio del pueblo. La religin es una especie de bebida espiritual, en la que los
esclavos del capital ahogan su imagen humana, su demanda de una vida ms
o menos digna del hombre..."
Incluso antes del final de la guerra civil y el establecimiento de la Unin
Sovitica, la Iglesia ortodoxa rusa se vio presionada por el gobierno comunista
secular. El gobierno sovitico se apoy en la antireligin, viendo a la Iglesia
como una organizacin "contrarrevolucionaria" y una voz independiente con
una gran influencia en la sociedad. Pese a que la Unin Sovitica reclam
oficialmente la tolerancia religiosa, en la prctica, el gobierno desalent la
religin organizada y luch por eliminar la influencia religiosa en la sociedad
sovitica.