Unorthodox Communists? 1/3 of Party members are Christians
The head of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) called the Soviet authorities’ opposition to religion a grave mistake, despite admitting that materialism remains the party’s official ideology.
“One of the principle mistakes of my predecessors was quarreling with the Russian Orthodox Church. This was categorically not a thing they should have done. They should have combined their efforts and moved forward,” Zyuganov told reporters between the sessions of the World Russian People’s Council – an international forum chaired by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill.
The row Zyuganov referred to is most likely a decisively anti-clerical and anti-religious drive maintained by the Bolshevik government throughout the 1920s and ’30s. The measures were supported by a large share of population and ranged from state-run aggressive atheist magazines to confiscation of state property, demolition of churches and sometimes direct attacks and criminal prosecution of the clergy.
At the same time, Zyuganov described as positive the change of the Soviet authorities’ attitude towards the Church after the start of WWII.
“They restored the patriarch, reopened many religious academies, the publishing activities and many more things. And they should have further strengthened these values,” Zyuganov noted.
He said the existing Communist Party of the Russian Federation had no official requirements for its members to be atheists or pursue atheist propaganda.
“About one third of the party are believers and the party treats believers with great respect. The freedom of conscience is guaranteed, even though we incline towards the materialist worldview and are actively preaching our ideas and goals,” Zyuganov announced.
The KPRF was formed in 1993 as an heir to the almighty Communist Party of the Soviet Union and maintains the transition to socialism and communism as its principal goal.
However, the latest version of the party’s program emphasizes the protection of workers’ rights and anti-globalism. In the mid-2000s the Communists also embraced religious ideas and in the 2010s long-time leader Gennady Zyuganov made several public announcements claiming that justice, equality and fraternity were Christian values that were very close to the Communist ideology.
Mass media also showed Zyuganov and other party leaders attending church services, especially on major holidays.