Pentecostalism in Soviet Union : a Nihilistic analysis




Scolnic, Galina

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Recently secularization has been reinterpreted, by Vattimo, as that which metamorphoses religion in order to make it possible for the day and age one lives in. In this thesis, I argue that New Religious Movements (NRM) represent a secularization of religion in the sense that they reinterpret the “text” and adjust it to the needs of the adherents of that particular movement. Since the Enlightenment, secularism has been understood as that which is not religious. Separation of church and state took place at times peacefully and at times violently. An example of the latter is the Soviet Union where secularization was imposed upon the people regardless of their religious beliefs. While the early Soviet state was at war with the Orthodox Church, a NRM—Pentecostalism—has thrived and spread like fire across the Soviet nations. My research question is: How did the Pentecostal movement succeed in establishing itself in the Soviet Union, given the hostile environment where the state tried to secularize the society? To answer this question I look at: (i) the Pentecostal movement’s establishment in the Soviet Union, and (ii) the sociopolitical and cultural elements that provided the fertile ground for the movement. In order to situate this event within the historical times, namely late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries’ understandings of religion and secularization, I offer a literature review of secularization theory as understood by Weber, Durkheim, Berger, and Vattimo among others. I analyze various social events throughout the history of Christianity in Russia in order to understand that which prepared the ground for this religious movement. I give a comprehensive analysis of Pentecostalism in the Soviet Union by analyzing primary sources from the movement’s view of themselves as well as the Soviet view of the Pentecostals in particular and religion in general. Lastly, I show how Pentecostalism was a form of secularization and how, in fact, the Soviets and the Pentecostals were working towards the same goal—secularism, only through different means.



Pentecostalism, Secularization, Soviet Union