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Rethinking the Russian Orthodox Church and the Bolshevik Revolution

journal contribution
posted on 2022-05-26, 00:00 authored by Scott M. Kenworthy
This article argues that, since the majority of Russians in 1917 belonged to the Orthodox Church, it is impossible to gain a full picture of the experience of the Revolution without taking into account the fate of Orthodoxy during the Revolution. Nevertheless, there has been no serious reassessment of the Orthodox Church in 1917–18 in English, and as a result most English-language scholars tend to fall back on older scholarship that is still driven by an outdated paradigm that ultimately derives from Soviet propaganda. Key recent Russian work on the subject is discussed to suggest new ways of understanding events. The old paradigm interpreted the Bolsheviks as progressive secularizers and the Church as counter-revolutionary. This article suggests rather that, during the first year of the revolution, both the church and the new state were shifting their policies towards one another until, by the autumn of 1918, the architects of the regime's policy towards the Church took a hard line against it.


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