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Life in the Soviet Union… “Losing my religion?”

Last updated: Jan 30th, 2019

Q. Hi Afra, how’s Russia?
A. It’s great thanks I love being here with my best friend Sydney.

Q. Have you noticed many religious buildings?
A. Yes, I have actually, funny you should ask.

Q. Could you describe them to us?
A. Well, they’re dotted all around Russia really. They’re big, beautiful and religious. The cathedrals in particular are an architects dream as they remind me of amazing Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox buildings.

Q. Why do you think they’re so opulent and rich in colour?
A. Firstly, they’re so colourful to make up for the lack of sunshine in the 17th century! But I also think they’re so extravagant because in the pre-revolution period religion played a huge role in Russian people’s lives. After the revolution, when religion was slowly becoming eradicated, these buildings became even more important.

Q. What do you mean?
A. Lenin and Stalin both began to suppress religion as they believed the Russian people shouldn’t worship anything higher than them. Religion was manipulated in soviet times to be something negative. In contrast to the negativity surrounding religion however, many of these decadent religious buildings still existed, they were even turned into swimming pools! And one was turned into a gulag!!!!

Q. And why do you think that religion survived in Russia?
A. Both Lenin and Stalin realised the inherent value of religious faith and latched on to this; Lenin, in the cult of personality, and Stalin, in the reopening of churches during the Second World War. This shows that political laws cannot suppress religious faith.