Russian Orthodoxy in the Communist Soviet Union

The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion and its replacement with atheism as a fundamental ideological goal of the state. Toward that end, the communist regime confiscated religious property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. The confiscation of religious assets was often based on accusations of illegal accumulation of wealth. State atheism in the Soviet Union was known as "gosateizm, and was based on the ideology of Marxism–Leninism. As the founder of the Soviet state V. I. Lenin put it: Religion is the opium of the people: this saying of Marx is the cornerstone of the entire ideology of Marxism about religion. All modern religions and churches, all and of every kind of religious organizations are always considered by Marxism as the organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the protection of the exploitation and the stupefaction of the working class. Marxism–Leninism has consistently advocated the control, suppression, and, ultimately, elimination of religious beliefs. Within about a year of the revolution the state expropriated all church property, including the churches themselves, and in the period from 1922 to 1926, 28 Russian Orthodox bishops and more than 1,200 priests were killed (a much greater number was subjected to persecution)As for the Russian Orthodox Church, Soviet authorities sought to control it and, in times of national crisis, to exploit it for the regime's own purposes; but their ultimate goal was to eliminate it. Most seminaries were closed, and publication of most religious material was prohibited. By 1941 only 500 churches remained open out of about 54,000 in existence prior to World War I.