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New Soviet Atheism Push

Mar. 2, 1964 - The Communist party announced today a renewed campaign designed to eradicate religion from Soviet life. The outline of the campaign, adopted by the party’s Central Committee, was published in Pravda, the principal party newspaper.

Atheist action groups are to be set up in all cities and towns that have religious communities. Members of the action groups are expected to win the trust of believers and to talk with them to attempt to convert them from religion to atheism.

Soviet publications have conceded that despite years of active antireligious propaganda, religious convictions remain widespread in all sections of the population.

Beginning with the school year of 1964-65, atheism will be offered as a field of study under the faculties of history and philosophy in universities. A full-fledged course in atheism will be introduced in the schools were officials of the Communist party, the Young Communist League, and the Government are trained. A similar indoctrination program is envisioned for teachers, kindergarten staffs, physicians, journalists, and others in the education and mass communications fields.

Artists and writers have been instructed to contribute; competitions are to be organized for works of literature, plays, films, and paintings that convey most effectively the antireligious message.

Another important part of the campaign is to be a gradual introduction of nonreligious ceremonials for birth, coming of age, marriage, and death.

The outline in Pravda said, “Religious remnants cannot be overcome with one sweep or with administrative measures,” a term applied to forcible steps such as closing of houses of worship. Such measures, the article said, “will merely increase religious fanaticism.”


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