League of Militant Atheists - Disbandment


The climate of the campaign against religion was changing in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The regime slowly became more moderate in its approach to religion. Yaroslavsky, in 1941 warned against condemning all religious believers, but said that there were many loyal Soviet citizens still possessing religious beliefs. He called for patient and tactful individual work without offending the believers, but "re-educating" them. He claimed that religion had disappeared in some parts of the country but in other parts (especially in the newly annexed territories) it was strong, and he warned against starting brutal offensives in those areas.

He alleged that there were very few attempts to re-open churches and that this was a sign of the decline in religion. He branded those who tried to re-open churches as "former kulaks" and "falsifiers of figures". This report was contradicted, however, by the LMG's own figures (based on the 1937 census) that found perhaps half the country still held religious beliefs, even if they had no structures to worship in any longer and they could no longer openly express their beliefs.

An answer to this report was found when Nazi Germany invaded in 1941, and churches were re-opened under the German occupation, while believers flocked to them in the millions. In order to gain support for the war effort (both domestic and foreign; the allies would not support Stalin if he continued the campaign ) against the German forces that were effectively "liberating" religious believers from the persecution against them, Stalin ended the antireligious persecution and the LMG was disbanded. All LMG periodicals ceased to publish by September 1941. Its official disbandment date is unknown, but traced somewhere between 1941 and 1947. Yaroslavsky turned his attention to other pursuits and in 1942, he published an article on Orthodox writer Dostoevsky, for his alleged hatred of the Germans.

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