Orthodox America

  The Cry of the New Martyrs – A Chronicle of Persecution

In Russia, the…persecutions brought forth from the very heart and soul of the Russian people such a spirit of confession which was seen only in the first centuries of Christianity.  Natalia Solzhenitsyn

It is very tragic that at a time when there is so much concern with human rights, the deplorable situation of believers in the Soviet Union has not improved; it has, in fact, deteriorated.

This was recently brought to the attention of the West by an appeal to the delegates of the 6th General Assembly of the WCC from the Christian Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights. Among other points, it mentions that "anti-religious propaganda begins in the kindergartens (i.e. from the age of 3) and is forced upon people for the rest of their lives--in schools, institutes of higher education, at work, even at special 'agitation points' for pensioners. Attempts to evade this compulsory indoctrination invariably lead to punishment.

"Pernicious attacks on believers are constantly made in the press, on radio, television and in 'artistic literature' with the clear aim of provoking hostility and even hatred against the faithful among the unbelieving and ignorant sections of society. Our Committee has evidence that on a number of occasions, anti-religious lectures, accompanied by a generous flow of alcohol, have resulted in a mob turning out to attack known believers, set fire to houses, assault even women and  small children. ,

     "The Soviet authorities are implementing a policy of genocide against believers. They are deprived of many of their constitutional rights, such as the right to equal pay, education, medical assistance, recreation, housing."

     The document then goes on to speak of the published Soviet legislation on religion which is all but inaccessible to citizens which makes them dependent upon state-appointed officials, "who are free to apply or disregard this legislation at their own discretion."

     The appeal ends with an entreaty to Christians of conscience to "extend a helping hand to the persecuted faithful. This help can take many forms: petitioning the Soviet. authorities, disseminating the information issued by the Christian Committee... [and others] ... about violations of believers' rights, in the USSR, sending religious literature (which is virtually unobtainable in the Soviet Union) to believers, sending material aid to the families of imprisoned believers and lending moral support to the work of the Christian Committee..."

KNS No. 180)