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Pravda Prompts Atheism to Fight Gains by Church

February 02, 1988|United Press International

MOSCOW — The Communist Party daily newspaper Pravda said today religious activity, especially by the Russian Orthodox Church, is on the rise and it urged a stepped-up campaign of atheist education to counter the church's growing influence.

The warning against the growth of religious activity and "propaganda" came in an editorial marking the 70th anniversary of the Communist government's "proclamation on separation of church and state."

The proclamation, which went into effect Jan. 23, 1918, stripped the Russian Orthodox Church of its political voice, led to the confiscation of much of its property and forbade religious teaching in schools.

Despite the separation decree, the Russian Orthodox Church is controlled to a large extent by the Communist Party, which approves high-level appointments and has a large say in activities through the State Committee on Religious Affairs.

The government also has given permission for large-scale nationwide celebrations to begin this June to mark the 1,000th anniversary next year of Christianity in Russia.

In its plea for a revitalized atheism campaign, Pravda mentioned only the Orthodox Church by name.

"The Russian Orthodox Church conducts a peace-loving policy but, on the other hand, the church increases its religious activity and propaganda using rather often the deficit of spiritual life in the society and a certain indifference to atheistic work in modern conditions," Pravda said.

"Hence, it is necessary to increase atheistic work among all strata of the population, especially among the youth."

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