World map showing nations that formerly or currently practice state atheism. Most of the countries that practice state atheism are
socialist states, with some exceptions such as
Mexico during the
State atheism is the incorporation of
positive atheism or
political regimes. It may also refer to large-scale
secularization attempts by governments. It is a form of religion-state relationship that is usually ideologically linked to irreligion and the promotion of irreligion to some extent. State atheism may refer to a government's promotion of
anti-clericalism, which opposes religious institutional power and influence in all aspects of public and political life, including the involvement of religion in the everyday life of the citizen. In some instances, religious symbols and public practices that were once held by religion were replaced with secularized versions. State atheism can also exist in a politically neutral fashion, in which case it is considered as non-secular.
In contrast, a
secular state purports to be officially neutral in matters of
religion, supporting neither religion nor
irreligion. In a review of 35 European states in 1980, 5 states were considered "secular" in the sense of religious neutrality, 9 considered "atheistic", and 21 states considered "religious".
communist state is a
state with a
form of government which is characterized by the
one-party rule or the
dominant-party rule of a
communist party which professes allegiance to a
Marxist–Leninistcommunistideology as the guiding principle of the state. The founder and primary theorist of
Marxism, the 19th-century German thinker
Karl Marx, had an ambivalent attitude toward religion, which he viewed as "the
opium of the people", simultaneously "the sigh of" and a source of moral agency of the "opressed creature" against their suffering. To Marx, religion wasn't the ideological expression of those in power, and he did not see it needing abolishing. Instead, he saw the communist state as creating conditions where the consolation provided by religion wouldn't be needed. In the Marxist–Leninist interpretation of Marxist theory, developed primarily by Russian revolutionary
Vladimir Lenin, atheism emanates from its dialectical materialism and tries to explain and criticize religion.
Religion is the opium of the people—this dictum by Marx is the corner-stone of the whole Marxist outlook on religion. Marxism has always regarded all modern religions and churches, and each and every religious organisation, as instruments of bourgeois reaction that serve to defend exploitation and to befuddle the working class.
Julian Baggini devotes a chapter of his book Atheism: A Very Short Introduction to a discussion about 20th-century political systems, including communism and
political repression in the Soviet Union. Baggini argues that "Soviet communism, with its active oppression of religion, is a distortion of original Marxist communism, which did not advocate oppression of the religious." Baggini goes on to argue that "
Fundamentalism is a danger in any belief system" and that "Atheism's most authentic political expression... takes the form of state secularism, not state atheism."
Cover of Bezbozhnik in 1929, the magazine of the Society of the Godless. The first five-year plan of the Soviet Union is shown crushing the
gods of the
1929 cover of the Soviet magazine Bezbozhnik ("The Atheist"), in which you can see a group of industrial workers throwing Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth in the trash
State atheism (gosateizm, a
syllabic abbreviation of "state" [gosudarstvo] and "atheism" [ateizm]) was a major goal of the official
Soviet ideology. This phenomenon, which lasted for seven decades, was new in
world history. The Communist Party engaged in diverse activities such as destroying places of worship, executing religious leaders, flooding schools and media with anti-religious propaganda, and propagated "scientific atheism". It sought to make religion disappear by various means. Thus, the USSR became the first state to have as one objective of its official ideology the elimination of the existing religion, and the prevention of the future implanting of religious belief, with the goal of establishing state atheism (gosateizm).
From the late 1920s to the late 1930s, such organizations as the
League of Militant Atheists ridiculed all religions and harassed believers. The league was a "nominally independent organization established by the Communist Party to promote atheism". It published its own newspaper, and journals, sponsored lectures, and organized demonstrations that lampooned religion and promoted atheism. Anti-religious and atheistic propaganda was implemented into every portion of soviet life from schools to the media and even on to substituting rituals to replace religious ones. Though Lenin originally introduced the
Gregorian calendar to the Soviets, subsequent efforts to reorganise the week to improve worker productivity saw the introduction of the
Soviet calendar, which had the side-effect that a "holiday will seldom fall on Sunday".
Within about a year of the revolution, the state
expropriated all church property, including the churches themselves, and in the period from 1922 to 1926, 28 Russian Orthodox bishops and more than 1,200 priests were killed (a much greater number was subjected to persecution). Most seminaries were closed, and publication of religious writing was banned. A meeting of the Antireligious Commission of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (
Bolsheviks) that occurred on 23 May 1929 estimated the portion of believers in the
USSR at 80 percent, though this percentage may be understated to prove the successfulness of the struggle with religion. The Russian Orthodox Church, which had 54,000 parishes before World War I, was reduced to 500 by 1940. Overall, by that same year 90 percent of the churches, synagogues, and mosques that had been operating in 1917 were either forcibly closed, converted, or destroyed.
In 1928, the
Jewish Autonomous Oblast was established by
Joseph Stalin, acting on an idea proposed by Lenin in order to give the Jewish population in Russia more personal autonomy, as reparation for
antisemitism in the Russian Empire. Along with granting Jewish autonomy, Stalin also allowed
Sharia law in the majority-Islamic countries of the Soviet Union. "The Soviet Government considers that the Sharia, as common law, is as fully authorized as that of any other of the peoples inhabiting Russia." (Statement by Stalin during the Congress of the Peoples of
Dagestan, an autonomous republic in Russia). Art. 135 of the
1936 constitution of the Soviet Union protects individuals from religious discrimination.
Enver Hoxha, the head of state of Albania, declared Albania to be the "first atheist state of the world" even though the Soviet Union under Lenin had already been a de facto atheist state. Marxist–Leninist authorities in Albania claimed that religion was foreign to Albania and used this to justify their policy of state atheism and suppression of religion. This nationalism was also used to justify the communist stance of state atheism from 1967 to 1991. The
Agrarian Reform Law of August 1945 nationalized most property of religious institutions, including the estates of mosques, monasteries, orders, and dioceses. Many clergy and believers were tried and some were executed. All foreign Roman Catholic priests, monks, and nuns were expelled in 1946.
Religious communities or branches that had their headquarters outside the country, such as the
Franciscan orders, were henceforth ordered to terminate their activities in Albania. Religious institutions were forbidden to have anything to do with the education of the young, because that had been made the exclusive province of the state. All religious communities were prohibited from owning real estate and operating philanthropic and welfare institutions and hospitals.
Although there were tactical variations in
Enver Hoxha's approach to each of the major denominations, his overarching objective was the eventual destruction of all
organized religion in Albania. Between 1945 and 1953, the number of priests was reduced drastically and the number of Roman Catholic churches was decreased from 253 to 100, and all Catholics were stigmatized as
The campaign against religion peaked in the 1960s. Beginning in February 1967 the Albanian authorities launched a campaign to eliminate religious life in Albania. Despite complaints, even by
APL members, all churches, mosques, monasteries, and other religious institutions were either closed down or converted into warehouses, gymnasiums, or workshops by the end of 1967. By May 1967, religious institutions had been forced to relinquish all 2,169 churches, mosques, cloisters, and shrines in Albania, many of which were converted into cultural centers for young people. As the literary monthly Nendori reported the event, the youth had thus "created the first atheist nation in the world."
Clerics were publicly vilified and humiliated, their vestments were taken and desecrated. More than 200 clerics of various faiths were imprisoned, others were forced to seek work in either industry or agriculture, and some were executed or starved to death. The cloister of the Franciscan order in Shkodër was set on fire, which resulted in the death of four elderly monks.
Article 37 of the Albanian Constitution of 1976 stipulated, "The state recognizes no religion, and supports atheistic propaganda in order to implant a scientific materialistic world outlook in people." The penal code of 1977 imposed prison sentences of three to ten years for "religious propaganda and the production, distribution, or storage of religious literature", which meant that individuals caught with Bibles, Qurans, icons, or other religious objects faced long prison sentences. A new decree that in effect targeted Albanians with Muslim and Christian names, stipulating that citizens whose names did not conform to "the political, ideological, or moral standards of the state" were to change them. It was also decreed that towns and villages with religious names must be renamed. Hoxha's brutal antireligious campaign succeeded in eradicating formal worship, but some Albanians continued to practice their faith clandestinely, risking severe punishment.
Parents were afraid to pass on their faith, for fear that their children would tell others. Officials tried to entrap practicing Christians and Muslims during religious fasts, such as
Ramadan, by distributing dairy products and other forbidden foods in school and at work, and then publicly denouncing those who refused the food. Those clergy who conducted secret services were incarcerated. Catholic priest
Shtjefen Kurti was executed for secretly baptizing a child in
Shkodër in 1972.
The article was interpreted by Danes as violating The
United Nations Charter (chapter 9, article 55) which declares that
religious freedom is an inalienable human right. The first time that the question came before the United Nations'
Commission on Human Rights at Geneva was as late as 7 March 1983. A delegation from Denmark got its protest over Albania's violation of religious liberty placed on the agenda of the thirty-ninth meeting of the commission, item 25, reading, "Implementation of the Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief.", and on 20 July 1984 a member of the
Danish Parliament inserted an article into one of Denmark's major newspapers protesting the violation of religious freedom in Albania.
Constitution of Albania defined the country as a
parliamentary republic, and established personal and political rights and freedoms, including protection against coercion in matters of religious belief. Albania is a member state of the
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the 2011 census found that 58.79% of Albanians adhere to
Islam, making it the largest
religion in the country. The majority of Albanian Muslims are secular Sunnis along with a significant
Bektashi Shia minority.
Christianity is practiced by 16.99% of the population, making it the 2nd largest religion in the country. The remaining population is either
irreligious or belongs to other religious groups. In 2011, Albania's population was estimated to be 56.7% Muslim, 10% Roman Catholic, 6.8% Orthodox, 2.5% atheist, 2.1% Bektashi (a Sufi order), 5.7% other, 16.2% unspecified. Today, Gallup Global Reports 2010 shows that religion plays a role in the lives of 39% of Albanians, and Albania is ranked the thirteenth least religious country in the world.[failed verification] The U.S. state department reports that in 2013, "There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice."
Khmer Rouge bullet holes left at Angkor Wat temple
Khmer Rouge actively persecuted
Buddhists during their
reign from 1975 to 1979. Buddhist institutions and temples were destroyed and Buddhist monks and teachers were killed in large numbers. A third of the nation's
monasteries were destroyed along with numerous holy texts and items of high artistic quality. 25,000 Buddhist monks were massacred by the regime, which was officially an atheist state. The persecution was undertaken because
Pol Pot believed that Buddhism was "a decadent affectation". He sought to eliminate Buddhism's
1,500-year-old mark on Cambodia.
Under the Khmer Rouge, all religious practices were banned. According to
Ben Kiernan, "the Khmer Rouge repressed Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism, but its fiercest extermination campaign was directed against the ethnic
Cham Muslim minority."
China has adopted a policy of official state atheism. Art. 36 of the Chinese constitution guarantees
freedom of religion but limits the right to practice religion to state sanctioned organisations. The government has promoted atheism throughout the country. In April 2016, the
Xi Jinping, stated that members of the
Chinese Communist Party must be "unyielding Marxist atheists" while in the same month, a government-sanctioned demolition work crew drove a bulldozer over two Chinese Christians who protested the demolition of their church by refusing to step aside.
Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.
Most people report no organized religious affiliation; however, people with a belief in folk traditions and spiritual beliefs, such as
ancestor veneration and
feng shui, along with informal ties to local temples and unofficial house churches number in the hundreds of millions. The
United States Department of State, in its annual report on International Religious Freedom, provides statistics about organized religions. In 2007, it reported the following (citing the Government's 1997 report on Religious Freedom and 2005 White Paper on religion):
Taoists, unknown as a percentage partly because it is fused along with Confucianism and Buddhism.
Muslims, 1%, with more than 20,000
Imams. Other estimates state at least 1%.
Christians, Protestants at least 2%. Catholics, about 1%.
Statistics relating to
Buddhism and religious
Taoism are to some degree incomparable with statistics for
Christianity. This is due to the traditional
Chinese belief system which blends
Taoism, so that a person who follows a traditional belief system would not necessarily identify him- or herself as exclusively Buddhist or Taoist, despite attending Buddhist or Taoist places of worship. According to Peter Ng, Professor of the Department of Religion at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, as of 2002[update], 95% of Chinese were religious in some way if religion is considered to include traditional folk practices such as burning incense for gods or ancestors at life-cycle or seasonal festivals, fortune telling and related customary practices.
The U.S. State Department has designated China as a "country of particular concern" since 1999, in part due to the scenario of Uighur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists. Freedom House classifies Tibet and Xinjiang as regions of particular repression of religion, due to concerns of separatist activity.Heiner Bielefeldt, the
UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, says that China's actions against the Uighurs are "a major problem". The Chinese government has protested the report, saying the country has "ample" religious freedom.
In August 1960, several bishops signed a joint pastoral letter condemning communism and declaring it incompatible with Catholicism, and calling on Catholics to reject it.Fidel Castro gave a four-hour long speech the next day, condemning priests who serve "great wealth" and using fears of
Falangist influence in order to attack Spanish-born priests, declaring "There is no doubt that
Franco has a sizeable group of fascist priests in Cuba."
Originally more tolerant of religion, the Cuban government began arresting many believers and shutting down religious schools after the
Bay of Pigs Invasion. Its prisons were being filled with clergy since the 1960s. In 1961, the Cuban government confiscated Catholic schools, including the Jesuit school that Fidel Castro had attended. In 1965 it exiled two hundred priests.
Though Article 39 of the
GDR constitution of 1968 guarantees religious freedom, state policy was oriented towards the promotion of atheism. Eastern Germany practiced heavy secularization. The German Democratic Republic (GDR) generated antireligous regulations and promoted atheism for decades which impacted the growth of citizens affiliating with no religion from 7.6% in 1950 to 60% in 1986. It was in the 1950s that scientific atheism became official state policy when Soviet authorities were setting up a communist government. As of 2012[update] the area of the former German Democratic Republic was the least religious region in the world.
North Korean constitution states that freedom of religion is permitted. Conversely, the North Korean government's Juche ideology has been described as "state-sanctioned atheism" and atheism is the government's official position. According to a 2018 CIA report, free religious activities almost no longer exist, with government-sponsored groups to delude. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom stated that assessing the situation in North Korea is challenging, but that reports that DPRK officials repress religious activities have surfaced, including about the government forming and controlling religious organizations to restrict religious activities. Human Rights Overview reported in 2004 that North Korea remains one of the most repressive governments, with isolation and disregard for international law making monitoring almost impossible. After 1,500 churches were destroyed during the rule of
Kim Il-sung from 1948 to 1994, three churches were built in
Pyongyang. Foreign residents regularly attending services at these churches have reported that services there are staged for their benefit.
North Korea has been designated a "country of particular concern" by the U.S. State Department since 2001 due to its religious freedom violations.CardinalNicolas Cheong Jin-suk has said that, "There's no knowledge of priests surviving persecution that came in the late forties, when 166 priests and religious were killed or kidnapped," which includes the Roman Catholic
bishop of Pyongyang,
Francis Hong Yong-ho. In November 2013 it was reported that the repression against religious people led to the public execution of 80 people, some of them for possessing
Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) propagated atheism until the 1960s. In the
Mongolian People's Republic, after it was
invaded by Japanese troops in 1936, the Soviet Union deployed its troops there in 1937, undertaking an offensive against the Buddhist religion. Parallel with this, a
Soviet-style purge was launched in the People's Revolutionary Party and the Mongolian army. The Mongol leader at that time was Khorloogiin Choibalsan, a follower of Joseph Stalin, who emulated many of the policies that Stalin had previously implemented in the Soviet Union. The purge virtually succeeded in eliminating Tibetan Buddhism and cost an estimated thirty to thirty-five thousand lives.
There was an expulsion of foreign clergy and expropriation of Church properties. Article 27 prohibited any future acquisition of such property by churches, and prohibited religious corporations and ministers from establishing or directing primary schools. The Constitution of 1917 also forbade the existence of monastic orders (Article 5) and religious activities outside of church buildings (which became government property), and mandated that such religious activities would be overseen by government (Article 24).
On 14 June 1926, President Calles enacted
anticlerical legislation known formally as The Law Reforming the Penal Code and unofficially as
Calles Law. His
anti-Catholic actions included outlawing religious orders, depriving the Church of property rights and depriving the clergy of civil liberties, including their right to a trial by jury in cases involving anti-clerical laws and the right to vote. Catholic antipathy towards Calles was enhanced because of his vocal anti-Catholicism.
Due to the strict enforcement of anticlerical laws, people in strongly
Catholic states, especially
Michoacán, began to oppose him, and this opposition led to the
Cristero War from 1926 to 1929, which was characterized by atrocities on both sides. Some Cristeros applied terrorist tactics, including the torture and killing of public school teachers, while the Mexican government persecuted the clergy, killing suspected Cristeros and supporters and often retaliating against innocent individuals.
A truce was negotiated with the assistance of U.S. Ambassador
Dwight Whitney Morrow. Calles, however, in violation of its terms did not abide by the truce and he had approximately 500 Cristero leaders and 5,000 other Cristeros shot, frequently in their homes in front of their spouses and children. Particularly offensive to Catholics after the supposed truce was Calles' insistence on a state monopoly on education, suppressing Catholic education and introducing socialist education in its place: "We must enter and take possession of the mind of childhood, the mind of youth." Persecutions continued as Calles maintained control under the
Maximato and did not relent until 1940, when President
Manuel Ávila Camacho took office. Attempts to eliminate religious education became more pronounced in 1934 through an amendment of Article 3 of the
Mexican Constitution, which strived to eliminate religion by mandating "socialist education", which "in addition to removing all religious doctrine" would "combat fanaticism and prejudices", "build[ing] in the youth a rational and exact concept of the universe and of social life". In 1946, socialist education provisions were removed from the constitution and new laws promoted secular education. Between 1926 and 1934 at least 40 priests were killed. Where there were 4,500 priests operating within the country before the War, in 1934 there were only 334 priests licensed by the government to serve fifteen million people, the rest having been killed, exiled or not obtaining licenses. In 1935, 17 states had no registered priests.
The French Revolution initially began with attacks on Church corruption and the wealth of the higher clergy, an action with which even many
Christians could identify, since the Gallican Church held a dominant role in
pre-revolutionary France. During a two-year period known as the
Reign of Terror, the episodes of
anti-clericalism grew more violent than any in modern
European history. The new revolutionary authorities suppressed the Church, abolished the Catholic monarchy, nationalized Church property, exiled 30,000 priests, and killed hundreds more. In October 1793, the Christian calendar was replaced with one reckoned from the date of the Revolution, and Festivals of Liberty, Reason, and the Supreme Being were scheduled. New forms of moral religion emerged, including the
deisticCult of the Supreme Being and the atheistic
Cult of Reason, with the revolutionary government briefly mandating observance of the former in April 1794.
Antireligious states, including atheist states, have been at odds with human rights law. Article 18 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights is designed to protect
freedom of thought, conscience, and
religion. In 1993, the UN's human rights committee declared that article 18 of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights "protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief." The committee further stated that "the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views." Signatories to the convention are barred from "the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers" to recant their beliefs or convert. Despite this, as of 2009[update] minority religions were still being persecuted in many parts of the world.
abcdWessinger 2000, p. 282,
Millennialism, Persecution, and Violence: Historical Cases: "Democratic Kampuchea was officially an atheist state, and the persecution of religion by the Khmer Rouge was matched in severity only by the persecution of religion in the communist states of Albania and North Korea, so there were not any direct historical continuities of Buddhism into the Democratic Kampuchea era."
abHaas 1997, p. 231,
Nationalism, Liberalism, and Progress: The dismal fate of new nations: "Yet the revolutionary leaders managed to score progress toward making the country a rationalized nation-state, as shown in table 5-3. Revolts continued to plague Mexico, some due to continuing rivalries among the leaders. The bloody Cristero Revolt (1926-29), however, was fought by devout peasants against an atheist state."
abDodd 2003, p. 571,
The rough guide to Vietnam: "After 1975, the Marxist-Leninist government of reunified Vietnam declared the state atheist while theoretically allowing people the right to practice their religion under the constitution."
abcdBullivant & Lee 2016, p. 74,
A Dictionary of Atheism: "State Atheism is the name given to the incorporation of positive atheism or non-theism into political regimes, particularly associated with Soviet systems. State Atheisms have tended to be as much anti-clerical and anti-religious as they are anti-theist, and typically place heavy restrictions on acts of religious organization and the practice of religion. State Atheist regimes are sometimes seen as examples of political secularism because they entail a nonreligious form of government; these regimes are even sometimes described as 'radically secularist'. However, where political secularism is understood as political neutrality towards religion or religions, or even political neutrality towards any worldview or existential culture including not only theist but also atheist examples, State Atheism is considered non-secular."
abcdeBullivant & Ruse 2015, pp. 461–462,
The Oxford handbook of atheism: "As we look elsewhere around the world, the dynamics of secularization and religionization are even more complex. The largest-scale experiments in secularization — state atheisms — have had mixed outcomes. In the former Soviet Union, as in China, Communist 'scientific: 'militant', or 'practical' atheism has unquestionably had some secularizing effect overall. But the story—or history—does not end there. As the former Soviet countries illustrate, long-term effects of the experiment are uneven. It took hold more profoundly in, for example, eastern Germany or the Czech Republic than in Poland. Armenia, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, or Uzbekistan, among others (Froese 2004; see Irena Borowik, Branko Ana& and Radoslaw Tyrala's 'Central and Eastern Europe)."
^Madeley 2009, p. 183: "In Eastern Europe the end of the world war produced radically different outcomes as Soviet-installed regimes introduced strict controls on the churches and other religious bodies and the state atheism which had been pioneered in Russia after the Bolshevik takeover in 1917 was imposed. ... By 1970 however, as Table 12.1 indicates, all 22 countries of Central and Eastern Europe which lay behind the Iron Curtain could be designated Atheistic de jure, committed in Barrett's terms to 'formally promoting irreligion'. This meant typically that while the state was ostensibly separated from all religions and churches, it was also 'linked for ideological reasons with irreligion and opposed on principle to all religion', claiming the right 'to oppose religion by discrimination, obstruction or even suppression' (Barrett 1982: 96). Separation in these states meant exclusion from public life and the cutting-off of most of the resources required for religion to flourish; it emphatically did not mean that the state was debarred from interfering in the field of religious provision — rather that, as in Turkey, the state and its organs should exert maximum control and surveillance."
abcEller 2014, p. 254,
Introducing Anthropology of Religion: Culture to the Ultimate.: "After the communist revolution of 1949, the People's Republic of China adopted a policy of official state atheism. Based on Marxist thinking that religion is class exploitation and false consciousness, the communist regime suppressed religion, "re-educated" believers and religious leaders, and destroyed religious buildings or converted them to non-religious uses."
abBullivant & Ruse 2015, p. 626,
The Oxford handbook of atheism: "There have been only a few comparative analyses of atheism carried out in the CEE region. One of the few attempts of this kind is that undertaken by Sinita Zrinkak (see 2004). Comparing different types of generational responses to atheism in several CEE countries, on the basis of studies carried out in these countries and based on data from the EVS, he distinguishes three groups of countries in the region. The first group comprises countries in which state atheism had the most severe consequences... This group includes such countries as Estonia, Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Bulgaria."
abcdHertzke 2006, p.
Freeing God's Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights: "The North Korea government not only imposed state-sanctioned atheism, it also mandated a totalitarian personality worship of Kim II Sung and Kim Jong II. This meant that the regime combined traditional Communist persecution of religion with a state-mandated faith we associate with Iranian mullahs or the Taliban. Thus "enemies of the state" are also treated as heretics."
^Temperman 2010, p. 120, State-Religion Relationships and Human Rights Law : Towards a Right to Religiously Neutral Governance: "A constitutional declaration of secularity means, first and foremost, that the state does not wish to invoke religion as a justification for its authority, actions and decisions. It must be emphasized that proclamations of secularity, both historically and presently, in the majority of cases denote official impartiality in matters of religion rather than official 'irreligiosity'. Secular states in that respect should certainly not be confused with declared atheist or anti religious states. "
^Temperman 2010, p. 140,
State-Religion Relationships and Human Rights Law : Towards a Right to Religiously Neutral Governance: "Although the historical underlying incentives that accompanied the establishment of a secular state may have been characterized by criticism of certain religious doctrines or practices, presently a state of secularity in itself does not necessarily reflect value judgements about religion. In other words, state secularism does not come down to an official rejection of religion. State secularism denotes an intention on the part of the state to not affiliate itself with religion, to not consider itself a priori bound by religious principles (unless they are reformulated into secular state laws) and to not seek to justify its actions by invoking religion. Such a state of secularity denotes official impartiality in matters of religion rather than official irreligiosity. By contrast, secularism as a philosophical notion can indeed be construed as an ideological defense of the secular cause, which might include criticism of or scepticism towards religion. Thus, states that are 'ideologically secular' and that declare secular world-views the official state doctrine give evidence, explicitly or by implication, of judgements about the value of religion within society. Most versions of state communism, for instance, embrace Marxist criticism of religion."
^Madeley 2003, pp. 1–22,
(subscription required) - European Liberal Democracy and the Principle of State Religious Neutrality: "As Table 2 indicates along its horizontal dimension, according to the attributions based on these criteria, in 1980, out of 35 European territories listed, only five could be coded as secular in the sense that the ‘State is secular, promoting neither religion nor irreligion’ and nine were deemed Atheistic. On the other hand, 21 states or governments were found to be committed in one way or another to the support of religion and/or religious institutions."
Marxist-Leninist "Scientific Atheism" and the Study of Religion and Atheism in the USSR: "As an integral part of the Marxist–Leninist world-view, ‘scientific atheism’ is grounded in the view of the world and of Man enshrined in dialectical [materialism] and historical materialism: The study of scientific atheism brings to light an integral part of the Marxist–Leninist world-view. Being a philosophical science, scientific atheism emanates from the basic tenets of dialectical and historical materialism, both in explaining the origin of religion, and its scientific criticism of [religion]. (ibid., p. 272.)"
^Kowalewski 1980, p. 426,
Protest for Religious Rights in the USSR: Characteristics and Consequences: "The Soviet policy of state atheism (gosateizm), albeit inconsistently applied, remains a major goal of official ideology. Massive state resources have been expended not only to prevent the implanting of religious belief in nonbelievers but also to eradicate "prerevolutionary remnants" already existing. The regime is not merely passively committed to a godless polity but takes an aggressive stance of official forced atheization. Thus a major task of the police apparatus is the persecution of forms of religious practice. Not surprisingly, the Committee for State Security (KGB) is reported to have a division dealing specifically with "churchmen and sectarians."
^Peris 1998, p. 2,
Storming the Heavens: The Soviet League of the Militant Godless: "The League's Central Council in Moscow published its own newspaper, Bezbozhnik (The Godless), several other Russian-language journals, and propaganda materials in many other languages of the Soviet Union. Antireligious pamphlets and posters were printed in large numbers. The League's far-flung network of cells and councils sponsored lectures, organized demonstrations, and actively propagandized against religious observance. Leading Bolshevik figures gave speeches at the League's national congress in 1929, at which the League officially became "Militant." The Communist Party, the Komsomol, the trade unions, the Red Army, and Soviet schools all conducted antireligious propaganda, but the League was the organizational centerpiece of this effort to bring atheism to the masses."
^Atwood 2001, p. 311: "The Soviets moved quickly against the Russian Orthodox Church in 1918. Most church lands became the property of the state, but the state refused to pay the salaries of the clergy. Education was taken out of the church's hands, and the state legally recognized only civil marriages. Many church leaders responded by supporting the anti-revolutionaries and tsarists. Thousands of priests and monks perished in the civil war and subsequent repression. In 1929, Stalin instituted harsher measures against religion. The state strictly controlled the publication of religious books, including the Bible. Confirmed Christians could not teach in schools or join the Communist party. The erection of new church buildings was forbidden and many former church buildings were desecrated or used to promote anti-Christian propaganda. For slightly more than a decade, the week officially contained only six days because the Christian Sabbath had been simply removed .... the Stalinist campaign against religion was directed against Jews and Muslims as well, particularly in the southern Soviet republics. As many as ninety percent of the churches, mosques, and synagogues that had been in existence in 1917 had been forcibly closed, converted, or destroyed by 1940."
^Tonnes 2008, p. 6,
Albania: An Atheist State (subscription required): "The struggle against religion in its current, incomparably harsher phase, was inaugurated by Enver Hoxha in his speech of 6 February 1967. He declared Albania to be the "first atheist state of the world". All 2,169 religious establishments (including the 268 Catholic churches) were demolished or closed."
abGellately & Kiernan 2006, p. 30,
The specter of genocide : mass murder in historical perspective:"Pol Pot's Cambodia perpetrated genocide against several ethnic groups, systematically dispersed national minorities by force, and forbade the use of minority and foreign languages. It also banned the practice of religion. The Khmer Rouge repressed Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism, but its fiercest extermination campaign was directed at the ethnic Cham Muslim minority."
(subscription required) - Chinese Communist Attitudes Towards Buddhism in Chinese History: "In the journal Hsien-tai Fo-hsueh (Modern Buddhism), September 1959, there appeared a long article entitled "Lun Tsung-chiao Hsin-yang Tzu-yu" ("A Discussion Concerning Freedom of Religious Belief"), by Ya Han-chang, which was originally published in the official Communist ideological journal Hung Ch'i (Red Flag), 1959, No. 14. Appearing as it did in Red Flag it is justifiable to conclude that the views expressed in it represented the accepted Communist attitude toward religion. In this article, Ya wrote that the basic policy of the Chinese Communist Party and the People's Republic of China is to "recognise that everyone has the freedom to believe in a religion, and also that everyone has the freedom not to believe in a religion."
^Froese & Pfaff 2005, p. 397,
(subscription required) Explaining a Religious Anomaly: A Historical Analysis of Secularization in Eastern Germany: "No religion could benefit substantially from the conditions that obtained in the GDR. Antireligious regulations and the official promotion of an exclusive, socialist-inspired atheism devastated religion. The percentage of those without any religious affiliation grew from 7.6 percent of the population in 1950 to more than 60 percent in 1986....Clearly, communist antipathy toward religion and the repression of religious organizations must have played a role in the rapid and dramatic abandonment of religion. But what contribution did atheism make to this development? In the GDR the weakening of the churches and their accommodation to communism was influential, but apparently so was the success of scientific atheism as a competitor to religion."
^Sanders 2003, p. 406,
Historical Dictionary of Mongolia: "The MPRP propagated atheism, but in the 1960s, the communist government began low-level support for Lamaism, seeing it as a vehicle for propaganda in Asian Buddhist countries."
^Collins, Michael (1999). The Story of Christianity. Mathew A Price. Dorling Kindersley. pp. 176–177.
ISBN978-0-7513-0467-1. At first the new revolutionary government attacked Church corruption and the wealth of the bishops and abbots who ruled the Church -- causes with which many Christians could identify. Clerical privileges were abolished ...
^Temperman 2010, pp. 165–166, [State-Religion Relationships and Human Rights Law : Towards a Right to Religiously Neutral Governance]: "A type of state-religion identification that in essence boils down to an antireligious regime, a regime which officially rejects the concept of religion altogether, can be considered, in itself, at odd with principles of human rights law , in particular to freedom of religion or belief and the equality principle. History has seen,some regimes which attempted to ban all religious activity (communist Albania for instance)...It is submitted that a state that establishes itself as an 'atheistic state" breaches the non-discrimination principle for similar reasons that were advanced with respect to religious states..."
Daniel, W. (1995-09-01). "Religious Policy in the Soviet Union. Edited by Sabrina Petra Ramet. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993. 361 pp. $69.95". Journal of Church and State. 37 (4): 913–914.