What’s Going On?

Christianity in the regions now considered part of the Soviet Union has a long and glorious history, dating back even before 988. But it seems that an atheistic state like the USSR would disdain any mention of that history, much less a grand celebration of it. So what’s going on—and what’s wrong—with the big Soviet show?

It’s finally come. the observance that millions of Ukrainian, Byelorussian and Russian Christians have been waiting for, the millennium of the Christianization of Rus’. That is, the alleged 1,000th anniversary of the occasion when the Grand Prince Vladimir ordered the people of his kingdom to be baptized into the Orthodox Christian faith, and personally oversaw the baptisms of the majority of the people in Kiev, the capital of his realm.

But the arrival and celebration of this millennium is heavily laden with irony. Probably the chief irony is the fact that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Soviet Union, a zealously atheistic government, is endorsing—even funding and promoting—the most spectacular of the many events worldwide that are being dedicated to this “millennium of Christianity in Rus’.”

A second great irony is that the city of Kiev, where the celebrated baptism took place, is now the capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (UkSSR), one of the several republics in the the USSR. So we have the descendants of the people that Vladimir led into the fold of Christendom now under the rule of a Cornmunist government that, if it is to comply with the tenets of orthodox Marxist Leninism, must consider religion “an opiate of the people” and work in every possible way to discourage its existence.

So what’s really going on here, in this irony-filled celebration of the “Christianization ...

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