Protestant minorities in the Soviet Ukraine, 1945--1991

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Title: Protestant minorities in the Soviet Ukraine, 1945--1991
Author: Kashirin, Alexander Urievich, 1963-
Abstract: The dissertation focuses on Protestants in the Soviet Ukraine from the end of the Second World War to the collapse of the USSR. It has two major aims. The first is to elucidate the evolution of Soviet policy toward Protestant denominations, using archival evidence that was not available to previous students of this subject. The second is to reconstruct the internal life of Protestant congregations as marginalized social groups. The dissertation is thus a case study both of religious persecution under state-sponsored atheism and of the efforts of individual believers and their communities to survive without compromising their religious principles. The opportunity to function legally came at a cost to Protestant communities in Ukraine and elsewhere in the USSR. In the 1940s-1980s, Protestant communities lived within a tight encirclement of numerous governmental restrictions designed to contain and, ultimately, reduce all manifestations of religiosity in the republic both quantitatively and qualitatively. The Soviet state specifically focused on interrupting the generational continuity of religious tradition by driving a wedge between believing parents and their children. Aware of these technologies of containment and their purpose, Protestants devised a variety of survival strategies that allowed them, when possible, to circumvent the stifling effects of containment and ensure the preservation and transmission of religious traditions to the next generation. The dissertation investigates how the Soviet government exploited the state institutions and ecclesiastic structures in its effort to transform communities of believers into malleable societies of timid and nominal Christians and how the diverse Protestant communities responded to this challenge. Faced with serious ethical choices--to collaborate with the government or resist its persistent interference in the internal affairs of their communities-- many Ukrainian Evangelicals joined the vocal opposition movement that contributed to an increased international pressure on the Soviet government and subsequent evolution of the Soviet policy from confrontation to co-existence with religion. The dissertation examines both theoretical and practical aspects of the Soviet secularization project and advances a number of arguments that help account for religion's survival in the Soviet Union during the 1940-1980s.
Description: xiv, 934 p. A print copy of this thesis is available through the UO Libraries. Search the library catalog for the location and call number.
Date: 2010-06

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