Russian Orthodoxy in the Soviet Union

During my research regarding religion in the Soviet Union, and specifically Russian Orthodoxy, I have been gleaning incredible amounts of information that I previously had not known about the topic.

An aspect of Russian Orthodoxy that I had not been aware of was how divided clergymen within the Church actually were. My previous belief was that there were only two sides to the argument about religion within the Soviet state: the Communists in charge who opposed it, and the religious leaders who supported it. Much to my surprise, I found that at least on the side of church leaders, there were many factions within the faith that splintered the church and lessened its effectiveness as a defender of faith in the Soviet Union. For example,  Furthermore, I found that the Soviet government often used the multiple factions against each other. By turning the various groups on each other, the Soviet regime ensured that no one group would become too powerful to be an actual threat against the Soviet Union. They did this by showing favortism to one group or another, or offering certain benefits to groups that sided with the government instead of the rest of the church leaders.

I think the reason that I found this aspect to be particularly interesting was that I assumed that the Soviet leaders, in wanting to eradicate religion in their nation, turned solely to the more brutal methods of exile or even execution. While this was true in some cases, Soviet leaders realized how truly intrinsic church leaders were to Russian society, and that by eradicating them, they faced the wrath of the Russian people. Therefore, they used more subtle means of erasing religion from Russian life. Through the promotion of science over religion, anti-religious propoganda, the reeducation of youth, and even through the rebranding of church sanctioned holidays and ideas, the Soviet Union effectively succeeded in over time lessening the importance of religion within Soviet society.

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