Does Joseph Stalin Believe In Religion ?
While Stalin went on to become one of the biggest communists of all times, there are questions about his religious beliefs. To understand whether Joseph Stalin believed in religion, one would first have to revisit his childhood. Stalin was not born with this name. This was a name he assumed after joining the Bolsheviks before the Russian Revolution. He was born as Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili to a cobbler and his illiterate wife on December 18th, 1878 in Georgia.
Stalin’s mother was a god-fearing lady. So, when Stalin became 10 years old, he was put into a church school where the children were forcibly taught to speak Russian. On reaching the age of 16, Stalin received a scholarship to join a Georgian Orthodox seminary. His mother wanted him to become a priest. However, just before he could graduate from the seminary, Stalin was expelled for indulging in subversive activities. Also, the seminary records claim that Stalin did not have the money to fill the tuition fees.
Any hopes of Stalin finding religion and believing in it were lost. Instead he began reading the works of Lenin and this wanted him to become a Marxist, which he did. He joined the Bolsheviks and was secretly spied upon by Imperial Russia’s secret police for revolutionary activities. After he started heading the Bolsheviks’ chapter in the Caucasus, he even resorted to bank robbery and kidnapping to raise money for the cause.
As a Bolshevik, Stalin followed Lenin’s beliefs where religion was concerned. Lenin believed that religion was addictive and if a communist society had to be built, then it was necessary to do away with religion. Hence, when Stalin took over the reins of USSR after the demise of Lenin, he promoted atheism and spread anti-religion propaganda. And those who believed in religion were targeted and persecuted. Hence, by the time the 1930s came along, people were too afraid to show their religious beliefs in public.
Stalin kept targeting the Russian Orthodox Church. And, in the 1930s, the church nearly became extinct with hardly any parishes or followers. Churches were razed to ground and nuns, monks and priests were executed or sent to gulags. However, it was when the Second World War broke out, the Russian Orthodox Church witnessed a revival, but as a patriotic and nationalistic organization.
A few days prior to Stalin’s demise, certain religious organizations and sects were outlawed and its members targeted. However, it was not just the Russian Orthodox Church that was persecuted during Stalin’s reign. All religions were, and their places of worship were destroyed.
However, Stalin had double standards where religion was concerned outside the USSR. He helped the Uighurs in China to revolt against the Chinese government and establish the formation of the Second East Turkestan Republic. This republic’s official religion was Islam.
It is claimed that with declining health, Stalin returned to Christianity, according to his biographer Edvard Radinsky. This was visible with during a retreat that he took in 1941 July and with the inclusion of religious believers in his inner circle.
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Wikipedia: Joseph Stalin