Orthodox America

 Enough Atheism! 

Letter to a Moscow publishing house


A few days ago I stopped at a bookstore and was shocked and astounded to see on display a book titled, Raising an Atheist, from the Library for Parents, published in Moscow, 1989.  The compilers were graduates of philosophical sciences R.N. Danilchenko and Z.A.Tazhurizina.

About myself:  I am 47 years old, the father of three children – a girl of 13, one boy nearly 8 and another age 5.  Until the age of 16 I was an atheist:  I didn’t believe in anything, I didn’t recognize anything; I was a kind of desperado.  By the mercy of God, the Lord touched my heart, my soul.  I could find no peace, my heart ached for something, searched desperately for something – but just what this was I myself didn’t know, didn’t understand.

In 1958 I joined the Komsomol [Communist Youth organization] in hopes of finding satisfaction, but no, my heart continued to seek for something higher.  I decided to be baptized.  One day I went to the home of an old woman and said, “Babushka, I want to be baptized but I don’t know where to go.”  That same year I received holy Baptism in the Orthodox Church.  And imagine, believe it or not, it was as if I were born again into the world; it seemed as if I didn’t walk but floated, soared on wings – such joy, such happiness.  I shall never forget it.  From that day my whole life fundamentally changed – my behavior, my words, my actions.

And now to the matter at hand, why I was so shocked and upset.

Throughout the Soviet Union today we have glasnost and perestroika, and this is essential, both for the spiritual and also for the material life of our great, much-suffering, patient Russia.  Why?  In the words of Christ:  Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything will be added unto you.  Without faith in God, without religious morality and the fulfillment of God’s holy commandments, there will not and cannot be genuine happiness on earth.  I repeat:  without a morality based on religion no amount of effort will succeed.

Let’s think for a moment.  There have been kingdoms and nations, mighty empires, and all of these came to an end following the spiritual and moral degeneration of their people; this was the cause of all disorders and calamities.  Today our country likewise finds itself on the brink of chaos, collapse, catastrophe.  Together with godlessness and atheism, people’s hearts have been infected by passions; profligacy has led to the fall of morality, and from there to alcoholism, crime, prostitution, drug addiction, and other social diseases.  And here these “educators,” with their degrees in philosophy, Danilchenko and Tazhurizina, willing or unwillingly, consciously or unconsciously, are offering the fatal poison of their teaching:  Raising an Atheist.  This is hardly an achievement and nothing new; to become infected with leprosy is easier than to be cured of it; it’s easier to descend to a lower point than to ascend the ladder of virtue.

Can it be that we have learned nothing and have drawn no conclusions from our bitter, lamentable past?  While it is still not too late, correct these errors, grant absolute and true freedom to the citizens of your native land that they might raise their children with a religious-moral foundation and teach them religion.  Then and only then will there exist freedom of conscience, leading to the improved health and well-being of our people and of our entire country.N. Kamenskikh

(Translated from Pravoslavnaya Rus’, 11/28/89)