“Religion is the opium of the people”: The political intentions behind the Bolshevik anti-religion campaign of 1917-1929

  • Darren Reid


This paper challenges the prevailing assumption that the 1917-1929 anti-religion campaign, carried out by the Bolsheviks in the Russian countryside, was primarily intended to secularize the peasantry. Using a variety of primary and secondary sources, this paper analyzes the two main tactics of the anti-religion campaign within the context of spiritual belief in rural Soviet Russia: the persecution of the clergy and the seizure of religious property. I argue that the campaign was not designed to secularize the peasantry, but to undermine the political autonomy of Russian villages.