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formidable indeed. It means, as Mussolini expressed it in his classic formulation,
Nothing outside or above the state, nothing against the state, everything within the state, everything for the state.3/
The classic pattern of religious repression today in authoritarian societies
perhaps excepting Islamic states
is to concede religion its niche as a place for private worship and the observance of sacraments, while resisting any application of religious teaching or witness to issues of society and
The harsher pattern of totalitarian religious repression is best exemplified by the practices of the Soviet Union. In this, efforts are made to extinguish the religious spirit in all forms among the subject population, while at the same time seeking to capture the most visible institutions of religious life in order to use them for the purposes of the state. This is an especially vicious and destructive form of religious repression, and deserves the most energetic opposition from the religious movements of the world and from our own government.
The character of Soviet practice has been explicitly described in a secret report on the Russian Orthodox Church prepared in 1975 by the deputy chairman of the Soviet Council on Religious Affairs for the Communist Party Central Committee. This remarkable document was smuggled to the West and published in Russian in Paris in 1980. It was published in English in
October, 1981, by the New York journal Religion in Communist
The author of this report, V. Furov, lucidly describes how the Soviet State Council controls the governing body of the
Russian Orthodox Church:
...exercising its constant and unrelenting control
There is no consecration of a bishop, no transfer,
(It should be understood that such "interested organizations" include the KGB.)
No doubt there is some self-serving bureaucratic exaggeration in the picture of church governance which Furov presents. But the purpose of the Soviet government cannot be mistaken: it is to turn the church into yet another organ of the state security system.
In a press briefing on February 9, Assistant Secretary Abrams explained that the authors of this year's Human Rights Report, in considering the right to free speech, not only asked whether citizens are free to utilize their government in public. They also asked whether a country has "such a degree of terror or such a network of informers that people do not even feel free to discuss politics privately, in their own home, or in the home of friends."
tion between the totalitarian and the authoritarian regime. We submit that there is growing evidence that, just as the totalitarian regime invades the home and family, so it also invades the institutions of religious life.
From "liberated" Vietnam Associated Press Correspondent
Refugees say the authorities try to co-opt exist-
The new leaders are variously described by foreign
According to a letter circulated last year by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, an American peace organization, the Au Quang Pagoda Buddhist Church of Vietnam had an "outstanding record" of opposition to the Vietnam war, and after the war ended worked "tirelessly for reconstruction, social justice and reconcilia
Nevertheless, the Fellowship reports:
The Vietnamese Government has stepped up efforts to
The situation in Vietnam is accurately described in this year's Human Rights Report. So is the situation in China, where, the report explains:
The stated aim of the eight patriotic officially
There has been some relaxation of the limits on religious
life in China in the last four years.
But it remains to be seen
whether this represents anything more than a hollow gesture designed to win religious support for China in the democratic world.
The 1983 Human Rights Report unfortunately does not convey an adequate sense of the influence of the state in the religious life of Cuba. Cuba's official churches are effective agencies for the promotion of Marxism-Leninism throughout the Americas and even in our own country.
This effort began in the early 1970's, with a number of meetings between Cuban leaders, revolutionary political leaders from Latin America, and left-leaning church figures. The theme Castro pressed was described this way by Father James Conway, Chaplain of the University of California, who attended one such meeting in Chile in late 1971:
...What he (Castro) saw now was that Christians
In keeping with this strategy, Cuba's official church
agencies have promoted the "Cuban model" throughout the hemisphere even as the Castro government persecutes authentic Christians at home. The Cuban Council of Evangelical Churches ostensibly a Protestant body
was described by its leader, Dr. Raul Fernandez Ceballos, as having this purpose:
...to help Christians understand the ongoing social
and Revolutionary commitment.
We feel that Marxism
offers an effective methodology to carry out
Christ's mandate to feed the hungry and clothe the
The Cuban Council of Churches is active on many international fronts, and is often honored with a prominent place in the programs of our own mainline Protestant Church agencies. But a revealing assessment of the true size and importance of this socalled "progressive" Cuban Christian group was provided by James Wallace, a writer for a pro-Castro organizaton called the Cuba Resource Center:
...there are probably no more than 200 active,
ments of Cuba and Vietnam, and has apparent appeal for the Sandinista government of Nicaragua, where a government-inspired "peoples church" is being promoted as an alternative to the independent Roman Catholic episcopacy.
Nicaragua's leaders are disarmingly candid in identifying Havana as their new Rome. An article recently in the New York Times Magazine quotes the Sandinista Minister of Culture, Ernesto Cardenal, declaring that his visit to Cuba in 1970 was "like a