Anti-Communism and Soviet Evangelicals in the 1960–1970s: Metamorphoses of Relations during the Cold War

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Institute of World History, RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameNovaia i noveishaia istoriia
EditionIssue 6

The article examines the international activity of the leaders of the official All-Union Council of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (VSKHB) at the turn of the 1960s–1970s, which was carried out under the conditions of control and regulation by state authorities. The leadership of the denomination was forced to prove the “usefulness” of its existence; contacts of Baptist Christians from different countries could bring such benefits. The main form of presentation of the international work of VSKHB was the compilation of reports both on foreign business trips and on communication with foreigners inside the USSR. These reports were sent to the Council for Religious Affairs under the Council of Ministers of the USSR, where they were used to compile summary analytical notes for higher authorities on the success of the international activities of the leadership of the confessions of the USSR. The author concludes that the struggle against the international anti-communist movement led to the development of international contacts by the leadership of the official Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. For Soviet Baptists, the key figure in global evangelical anti-communism at the turn of the 1960s and 1970s was Richard Wurmbrand, a preacher. He was organising actions in support of Christians in communist countries, persecuted not only by the state but also by the official church leadership compromising with the authorities. Such actions threatened the legitimacy of the VSKHB, since in the early 1960s a Baptist initiative movement opposed to the official union emerged in the USSR. The struggle of all of them with the international evangelical anti-communist movement had an unexpected effect for evangelical Baptist Christians inside the USSR: it contributed to the stabilization of the existing associations of evangelical Baptist Christians and even the emergence of new communities.

KeywordsUSSR, Church and State, Cold War, anti-communism, Christian Church, international relations, Baptists, Richard Wurmbrand, All-Union Council of Evangelical Christians-Baptists
Publication date19.12.2022
Number of characters40933
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