Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Christian Growth Under Communism
My friend Dr. Richard Kidd, a member of the Sweeten Life Systems Board, sent me the following remarks. It coincides nicely with my experience in the former USSR where our ministry of equipping Christian leaders is growing and getting stronger. This is despite the strong persecution of Christians who actually want to live out their faith in daily life.
I ran across this quote in Rodney Stark’s What Americans Really Believe. Nothing fundamentally new here but started in a ‘stark’ fashion that drives the point:
“By far the most interesting data in this table are those for the former Soviet bloc. For more than seventy years atheists controlled the Soviet state and enforced an official policy of atheism. Beginning in the first year of school, and
each year all the way through college, students in the Soviet Union were required to take a course in atheism.
Following World War II, when the Soviets took control of the nations of Eastern Europe, a similar system of atheist education was imposed. Year after year, students were rehearsed in all the angry anti-religious arguments to be found in recent tracts
such as Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion.
And it wasn't merely education that atheism had going for it in the Soviet bloc. There was intense discrimination against religious people- if you wanted to have a good job, you professed atheism. If you were too intensely or too overtly religious, you might get sent to a hard-labor camp or even be killed. The result? In Russia itself the score is: God 96 percent, atheism 4 percent, precisely the same as in the United States. Nor did the atheism campaign do significantly better anywhere in the rest of the old Soviet bloc.
In his very recent book, The Plot to Kill God: Findings from the Soviet Experiment in Secularization, Paul Froese demonstrates the utter ineptitude of the Soviet efforts to instill atheism. In part the educational program made no progress because it was staffed by, and the teaching materials were prepared by, people who knew next to nothing about religion. The assumption was that since religion is nonsense, there is nothing much one needs to know to refute it. Hence, what the atheism faculty regarded as unanswerable criticisms of faith were, in fact, quite elementary matters of theology and easily refuted by the average church-goer.”
Here is my view of such things. God cannot be stopped. Those who persecute Christians end up destroying themselves and others. As Tertullian said, "The blood of martyrs is seed for the church." When missionaries left China in 1949 there were 2 to three million Christians. Now there are over 100,000,000.