Religion under CommunismBack to modules »
Eastern Europe is not only ethnically diverse, but also features a variety of coexistent religions and churches which transcend national boundaries. The relationship of larger churches with the Communist state was complicated and changed over time. As a general rule, religiosity was less tolerated in the Stalinist epoch, while in periods of relative liberalization it was more accepted. The attitude of the Party and the secret police towards priests largely depended on how much the priests and their churches were willing to cooperate. In some cases, the major church in the country closely collaborated with the central power; in other cases, however, churches proved to be one of the primary spaces of dissidence, and suffered the most from state violence. Smaller (semi-)autonomous religious circles were even more likely to be targeted, for these were considered more difficult to control by the Party. This module introduces students to the diverse strategies churches, religious communities, and individuals used to cope with oppression by the state.