Contrasting climates in China, Soviet Union reflect their ideological rift

The split between the Soviet Union and Communist China, which brought bitter new recriminations this month, has its counterpart in their religious climates.

In the Soviet Union, there is just enough freedom that members of the two largest religious groups—Orthodox and Baptist—dare to challenge the government and government-approved religious leaders and call publicly for true liberty.

In paranoid, increasingly militant China, persecution of Christians is reaching new heights, threatening to drive completely underground the faith that claimed five million adherents before the 1949 Red take-over.

As if to underscore the relation of the two trends, the same super-Communist youth element that demonstrated against Soviet policies late last month also attacked the major Roman Catholic and Protestant churches remaining in Peking.

At South Cathedral, center of Catholicism in the capital city, rioters brushed black over paintings of Jesus and various saints, broke windows and statuary, and pasted anti-bourgeois slogans on the walls. Along with similar posters and banners at the Protestant church, the youths rearranged the sanctuary to center on a bigger-than-life bust of Communist Party chief Mao Tse-tung, Reuters reported.

Excerpt From Soviet Baptist Petition

“It is not an accident that [Article 124 of the Constitution of the U.S.S.R.] is powerless, because it was purposely made that way. It was not such at the beginning but, having been amended twice, its democratic character was degraded and it came to us already degraded and powerless.…

“The amendment of the provision, insignificant at first, gave the opportunity to carry out the program of mass repression. In ...

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