Stalin’s War on Religion

  • James Coe


This paper examines the context, actions, and motivation of Joseph Stalin’s war on religion between the years of 1929 and 1941. This paper documents Stalin’s context through the works of Karl Marx, anti-religious precedents set by Vladimir Lenin, and Stalin’s own personal views on religion. Anti-religious actions of Stalin examined within this paper include the Law on Religious Associations, reshaping of the Gregorian calendar, support for the League of Militant Godless, and the Great Purge. This paper argues that Stalin’s extreme levels of religious repression were done not with the sole intention of fulfilling communist ideology but rather held a distinct power-oriented motive. Religion was a state-undermining influence to Stalin’s communist regime through religious followers’ allocation of authority to a higher power rather than Stalin and the Communist Party. Furthermore, religion propagated ideals contradictory to the state. Stalin eases his anti-religious policies during and after World War II when it aided in stabilising his position of power proving that following communist doctrine was not his sole motivation.

How to Cite
Coe, James. 2024. “Stalin’s War on Religion”. the Ascendant Historian 3 (June), 21-27.