In Russia during the Soviet era, hundred of posters and magazine covers were printed to encourage people to abandon their faith. They were state-sponsored and designed to be interpreted even by people who could not read. This propaganda clearly tied anti-Christian sentiment to the United States.
In his new book, Godless Utopia, Roland Elliott Brown collected a number of these images and provided commentary on their meaning.
What does it mean that we call the United States a Christian nation? What does it mean when presidents like Ronald Reagan merge their faith with the US? How does that impact our witness? These are questions we’ll continue exploring throughout this series.
- You can view images from the book here. Please note that some of these images may not be appropriate for all eyes.
- Watch the whole “evil empire” speech here.
- Article about Ruth Snyder, the first woman to be sent to the electric chair
- Rolland’s article about Soviet propaganda (see page 18)
- Mobituaries podcast episode about lynching and D.W. Griffith’s film “Birth of a Nation”
- What did Soviet propaganda look like?
- How did Stalin use the Orthodox church to fight in WWII?
- What was Ronald Reagan’s “evil empire” speech?
- Is it okay for US Presidents to speak at Christian events?
How strong was the soviet mythology? Strong enough to make a young boy turn in his own parents. At least… that’s what the communist government of Russia wanted their people to believe. They created a myth around a boy named Pavlik Morozov who they deemed Pioneer 1.
TRANSCRIPT (please note – some changes may have been made during editing)
When the Russian tsars fell, they left a power vacuum. Who would rule Russia after the Romanov dynasty? The Bolshevik’s rose to power, led by Vladimir Lenin. Lenin immediately began persecuting anybody he didn’t like.
In this episode, we’ll examine the dark realities behind the Russian revolution: how it started with good intentions but ended with the death of millions. We’ll also see how a culture of fear and suspicion held the nation captive.
Our guests today are Professor Barbara Engel (author of “Russia in World History“), and Roland Elliott Brown (author of “Godless Utopia“).
This is part of our series examining how the rise of communism in Russia impacted the Christian church. Check out the rest of season three for more information. We’re working hard to make Truce the best Christian podcast on the market. Please rate and review the show!
- How did Vladimir Lenin come to power?
- How did Stalin come to power?
- How many people did Stalin kill? (20-25 million)
- Is communism bad?
- What was the Soviet Union?
- How did the Soviet Union begin?
- Who were the Bolsheviks?
- Why do some people like Stalin?
What is the difference between communism and socialism? They get used interchangeably in our culture, but do they really mean the same thing?
In this episode, we’ll give a textbook definition of each and then see how those ideas change in the wild. Our guests today are my friend Brian Faehnrich, Professor Barbara Engel (author of “Russia in World History“), and Roland Elliott Brown (author of “Godless Utopia“).
The basic difference between communism and socialism is where the profit goes:
- In communism, the profits go to the government
- In socialism, the profits can go to the people
Also, communism is inherently atheistic, in keeping with the vision of Karl Marx.
- What is the difference between communism and socialism?
- Who was Karl Marx?
- Who invented communism?
- What was the first communist country? (Russia)
- How did Vladimir Lenin rise to power?
- Does communism work?
- Is communism a utopian idea?
- What did Karl Marx have against the Christian church?
“We did our best, but it turned out as it always does”.
Kind of a dark statement, no? It is a popular Russian phrase that kind of encapsulates the spirit of Russian history. People who try hard to make a change, but that change is not exactly great. In this episode of the Truce Podcast, we spoke with Jennifer Eremeeva, author of the excellent book, “Have Personality Disorder, Will Rule Russia” about the history of the Russian Christian church.
Christianity came to Russia by sword point. It started out as a pagan culture, heavily influenced by the Vikings. When Vladimir, ruler of ancient Moscow, wanted some of the treasures of the Byzantine empire, he had a couple of options. He could invade and capture them, or he could make a trade deal. He tried both, but it didn’t quite work out. As part of the peace deal, the Byzantine empire offered him a bride and trade if he converted to Christianity. So he did. Then Vladimir forced his kingdom to convert to Christianity or face death.
This means that Russian held on to their pagan ancestry and co-mingled it with their new Christian faith.
But that’s not the end of the journey! Their shared faith became a bonding opportunity when the Mongols invaded. The church was their hub, the thing that connected them to all of the disconnected parts of Russia.
After the Mongols left, things settled down for a bit. Until the Orthodox church showed up. You see, when the Byzantine empire fell to Muslim forces, the Orthodox church needed a new home. So Ivan brought them to Moscow. Now Moscow is home to one of the largest branches of Christianity in the world – the Russian Orthodox church.
From sword point to housing one of the largest branches of the faith, Russia has a varied history with Christianity. Listen to this episode to get the full story.
Sources and links:
- Have Personality Disorder, Will Rule Russia – book by Jennifer Eremeeva
- Stephen Mansfield interview featured in this episode
- Five Minute Bible Hour video about the Orthodox Church
- How did the Russian Orthodox church begin?
- Who was Prince Vladimir?
- When did the Mongols enter Russia?
- Who was Ivan the Great?
- Why is the Russian church associated with paganism?
- What is a good primer on Russian history?
- The fall of the Byzantine Empire
- How did Moscow become the capital of Russia?
- Why do we like dark jokes?
- Church history
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