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Additional info for A History of Marxist-Leninist Atheism and Soviet Antireligious Policies: Volume 1 of A History of Soviet Atheism in Theory and Practice, and the Believer
Florensky) and Luka Voino-Yasenetsky, one of the founders of the University of Tashkent and its first professor of medicine (who would pay with eleven years in prisons and camps for remaining a bishop). There were many other outstanding debaters defending the Church. The debates used to draw huge crowds. People had to spend hour upon hour in queues to purchase tickets to university auditoria or concert halls where the debates took place. According to the descriptions by religious authors, the debates often began in an atmosphere of hostility towards the Christian apologists, because a large part of the audience invariably consisted of Bolshevik and Komsomol activists brought to the hall in an organized fashion, but most often ended in applause for the religious speakers (particularly of the calibre of those men- tioned above) who showed deeper conviction and greater erudition than their party-line atheistic opponents.
Being a form of ideology, it has to be attacked with no degree of compromise by the purifying outrage of the revolutionary masses. As a materialist, Marx states: It is self-evident ... that 'spectres', 'bonds', the 'higher being', 'concept', 'scruple' are merely idealist, speculative mental expressions, the concepts of apparently isolated individuals, the mere images of very empirical fetters and limitations, within which move the mode of production of life, and the form of intercourse coupled with it.
But soon the truth emerged that they were a failure, that people were not eager to join cells of atheist activists attached to the Komsomol; for example, in the city of Smolensk with a population of 173 000 only 35 people joined them. At the same time they rallied the believers around the Church. The Church, not deprived of the right to organize Christian youth groups until the legislation of 1929, responded by organizing religious study circles, as well as women's church societies, choral societies, religious retreats, and other religious activities.