Orthodox America

From a "Beseiged Fortress"  

Since we cannot trust the justice of the Soviet law, which is being used for purposes of ideological struggle, our only hope is in the help of God and in the brotherly support of the Christian Community. - Members of the Christian Seminar

In recent months enough has been written in the Soviet press on the subject of "youth and religion" to indicate the relative ineffectiveness of atheist education. Various reasons have been  [advanced] to explain this.  "Imperialist propaganda" and "subversion from abroad' rate high on the list.   It is particularly irksome to the authorities that an in- creasing interest in religion is shown by "young people who think". In an article written their relentless campaign to suppress this "dangerous ' tendency among Soviet youth, the atheist authorities are calling for “ new stimulus in atheist work.” Atheist propagandists are encouraged to make wider ue of the media to attract the attention of young people.  There is likewise a call for improvement in atheist education at the university level. At the same time, they mercilessly persecute the growing number of youth who already courageously profess Christ. For the past t years, their most recurrent target in this regard has been the Christian Seminar  Founded in 1974 by Alexander Ogorodnikov, its members are mainly young people who, after searching for an alternative to Marxism-Leninism, have come to faith in Christ and membership in the Russian Orthodox Church.  Soon after the arrest of Ogorodnlkov in January, 1979, Seminar members wrote a protest to the Commissioner of the Moscow Council of Religious Affairs:

"The Christian Seminar on Questions of Religious Rebirth has existed for almost 5 years. During its tenure, we, full-fledged citizens of our country, born and bred here, have had to live as if in a besieged fortress! We hope that this senseless tyranny will finally cease. We, Orthodox Christians, believe that God, Maker and Lord of the earth, will spiritually restore Russia to life, and we know that all men of good will side with us."

At the same time, the Seminar members also wrote an Appeal to Christian Youth of the West:

 "The present time shows us quite clearly the reality of a religious revival in Russia. The crisis of state culture and the arising of a new spirit in youth which have been the decisive events in our lives, have gradually moved Russia onto the path of a religious revival. The spiritual barrenness and the poverty of feelings in official life have been killing everything.. we have been deprived of freedom in our lives.  Everything which was considered by each of us as a natural right, which allowed us to be called by the high name of man, was trampled, broken, and crushed...

“During the whole time of its existence, the Seminar has teen closely watched by the KGB, whose only purpose and wish is to destroy the Seminar. Four years of continuous persecution, ranging from. administrative to criminal, are facts in our life.  The KGB has teen most active during the past years: dismissals , searches, interrogations took place every month…… [However], we declare that, in spite of all these measures, the Seminar will continue its activities, no matter how cruel and inhuman the repression.

“We see the Christian youth of the West as the real force which can help us in defending ourselves.  We do not think of ourselves as being separated from others, but as being united with the Body of Christ, in which every member of His Body is directly linked with other members and in which the sickness of any or its members becomes the concern of all the others. . As children of one rather, we turn to our brothers with a plea for help."

Are we responding to this plea?  Surely we are not deaf? And yet, Secretary of State Haig recently stated that he has received virtually no mail concerning persecuted Russians!

The atheists are refining their weapons and developing both their offensive and defensive tactics.  Where is the “force" of Christian youth in the West? What hope can we give. our captive brothers and sisters in Christ? Can we not storm this fortress with our prayers, our letters, our petitions? What hinders us but our shameful indifference and lack of active Christian compassion?  Let their cries prick our consciences. And let us not be dismayed. by the apparent strength of the atheists,   Joshua faced greater odds when he stood outside the walls of Jericho, yet he overcame, not by the strength of men but by the power of God. Let this also be our hope.

Sources. The Orthodox Monitor, July~Aug. 1979; KNS-125,