Christians in the USSR are seeing revival despite the most severe repressions since Khrushchev.
In the late 1950s Nikita Khrushchev boasted that religion in the USSR would become obsolete by 1965. When that happened, he hyperbolically said he would insist that at least one Christian be preserved and placed in a museum so that future generations of Soviets could view an extinct species.
The fossilization of religion in the USSR predicted by a succession of Soviet leaders has not happened despite Communist rule that cost the lives of an estimated 60 million Soviet citizens between 1917 and 1953. Some 66 million others were incarcerated, of whom as many as half may have been Christian believers.
Not only has religion survived in the USSR, but reports—from sources as wide-ranging as the Soviet and Western press—are reaching the world of a recrudescence of religion. Not yet a conflagration, sparks of spiritual revival are discernible from the Baltic Sea to Siberia, and in some satellite countries.
This rise in religious interest is occurring despite the most severe repression since Khrushchev’s virulent antireligion crusade of the early 1960s. Beset by internal problems and international setbacks, Soviet leaders have assumed an increasingly isolationist, reactionary stance. The Kremlin’s campaign for conformity and compliance in a tightening, totalitarian society includes a crackdown on religion. “Were living on a precipice these days,” said one Soviet Christian.
Despite current repressions, some Soviet sources acknowledge that 15 to 20 percent of the adult population in the USSR are religious. David Barrett, compiler of the World Christian Encyclopedia, estimates that in the Soviet Union (pop. ...1
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