Circular letter of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) No. 30 ʺon the attitude towards religious organizations.ʺ August 16, 1923

Marx-Engels |  Lenin  | Stalin |  Home Page

    Stalin- Transcripts from Soviet Archives

Circular letter of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) No. 30 ʺon the attitude towards religious organizations.ʺ August 16, 1923

Source: Kremlin archives. In 2 books. / Book. 1. Politburo and Church. 1922‐1925 ‐ M. ‐ Novosibirsk, ʺRussian Political Encyclopediaʺ

(ROSSPEN), ʺSiberian Chronographʺ, 1997, pp. 414‐418

Archive: APRF, f. 3, op. 60, d.12

No. 12‐56

Strictly ‐ Secret Copy [copy] No.


CIRCULAR LETTER of the Central Committee of the RCP No. 30

(About the attitude towards religious organizations).

The Central Committee invites all party organizations to pay the most serious attention to a number of serious violations committed by some organizations in the field of anti‐religious propaganda and, in general, in the field of attitudes towards believers and their cults.

The party program says: ʺIt is necessary to carefully avoid any insult to the feelings of believers, leading only to the consolidation of religious fanaticism.ʺ The resolution of the XII‐th 1 * Party Congress on antireligious agitation and propaganda confirms that “deliberately rude methods, often practiced in the center and in the localities, mockery of objects of faith and worship, instead of serious analysis and explanation, do not accelerate, but complicate the liberation of the working masses from religious prejudices. ʺ

Meanwhile, some of our local organizations are systematically violating these clear and definite directives of the Party program and the Party Congress.

The Irkutsk Provincial Executive Committee stopped with one stroke of the pen from 26. VI p. d. the existence of all Baptist communities throughout the province and closed their houses of worship for ʺpolitical reasons.ʺ The Oryol Provincial Executive Committee closed churches and prayer rooms throughout the province for failure to comply with administrative orders, for non‐registration, despite the fact that the registration period was 2 * delayed 2 *. On Klyuchinskaya glassworks Tver province and a factory ʺof the communist vanguardʺ (6 Sobinka) Vladimir gu6ernii 3 * vote at general meetings ruled churches closing, prayer rooms and these solutions were the 4* the basis for the local authorities to close churches, and in the latter cases it came to an armed clash between believing workers with communists and Komsomol members. The Mtsensk executive committee (Oryol province) rudely announced to representatives of church councils the taxation of each church from 100 to 500 rubles. gold, as a fine for nonregistration, and the request for the presentation of the basis of recovery was followed by the threat of arrest, and after 5 * this 5* and arrest. Throughout Transcaucasia, especially in Georgia, dozens of churches are being closed completely illegally, in violation of the partyʹs directives, causing ferment and discontent among the population. In Minsk (Belarus), Kharkiv (Ukraine), Poltava (Ukraine), Kremenchug (Ukraine), Loev (Rechitsa district, Gomel province), Birzula (Odessa province.Ukraine), Simferopol (Crimea) and many other cities in the south and the south‐west of the USSR, Jewish prayer houses were closed by local authorities. Etc., etc.

These and numerous similar examples with sufficient vividness testify to how carelessly, not seriously, and lightly some local organizations of the Party and local authorities treat such an important issue as the issue of freedom of religious belief. These organizations and government bodies, apparently, do not understand that by their rude, tactless actions against believers who represent the vast majority of the population, they inflict incalculable harm to the Soviet regime, threaten to frustrate the Partyʹs achievements in the field of church corruption, and risk playing into the hands of counter‐revolution.

Based on the foregoing, the Central Committee decides:

1)                   prohibit the closure of churches, prayer rooms and synagogues on grounds of failure to comply with administrative registration orders, and where such closure has taken place, cancel it immediately;

2)                   prohibit the liquidation of prayer rooms, buildings, etc. by voting at meetings with the participation of non‐believers or outsiders to the group of believers that entered into a contract for a premise or building;

3)                   prohibit the liquidation of prayer rooms, buildings, etc. for nonpayment of taxes, since such liquidation was not admitted in strict accordance with the instruction of the NKYu 1918, item 11 53;

4)                   prohibit arrests of a “religious nature”, since they are not connected with clearly counter‐revolutionary acts of “church ministers” and believers;

5)                   when leasing premises to religious societies and determining rates, strictly observe the resolution of the All‐Russian Central Executive Committee dated 29 / III‐23, 54;

6)                   explain to the party members that our success in disintegrating the church and eradicating religious prejudices does not depend on persecution of believers ‐ persecution only strengthens religious prejudices ‐ but on a tactful attitude towards believers with patient and thoughtful criticism of religious prejudices, with serious historical coverage 6 * ideas of God, cult and religion and 1 * pr. 1 *;

7)                   personally, assign the secretaries of provincial committees, regional committees, regional bureaus, national Central Committees and regional committees personally for the implementation of this directive.

At the same time, the Central Committee warns that such an attitude towards the church and believers should not, however, in any way weaken the vigilance of our organizations in the sense of careful observation that the church and religious societies do not turn religion into a weapon of counter‐revolution.

Secretary of the Central Committee I. 5 * Stalin.

16 / ѴІІІ 23 y.

‐ L. 117‐119. A typewritten copy of that time. On l. 117 in the upper left corner is a handwritten label: ʺ (From the set) ʺ. The secrecy formula, stamp ʺCopy [copy] No.ʺ, letter number, date after the signature formula are written in ink by hand. With the same ink in the document crossed out at the beginning of ʺ PROJECT ʺ. and at the end ‐ ʺCORRECT: KURYNDINAʺ.

‐ L. 120 — rev. A printed sheet of the time made for local distribution. Handwritten editing of copy l. 117‐119 included. The number “31” is stamped in the “Copy [copy] No.” stamp . The letter number number ʺ30ʺ is also stamped. Attached to document No. 12‐55.

‐ L. 114‐116. A later certified typewritten copy. Handwritten editing of copy l. 117‐119 taken into account and submitted by typewriting. In the stamp ʺ EKZ [EMPLYAR1 No. ʺ the typewritten number ʺ53ʺ is crossed out by hand. Above L. 114 handwritten note on the documentʹs belonging to the proceedings of the Politburo meeting, minutes No. 25, item 16 of August 16, 1923 (No. 12‐55).

‐ APRF, f. 3, op. 1, d.356, l. 30‐32. Draft minutes of the Politburo meeting. Typewritten original of the original document; signature, date, secrecy formula, stamp ʺcopy] No.ʺ, letter number ʺ30ʺ are missing. The handwritten text revision is fully included in copy l. 117–119 and transferred in typescript. On l. 30 in the upper left corner by the hand of the assistant secretary of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) A. M. Nazaretyan of the litter: “ Today : 1. Reprint. 2. Distribute to PB members and collect votes. A. Shazaretyan]. 14 / ѴІІІ ʺ. In this note, all the text, except for the first word and date, is crossed out (or underlined?) In pencil. With the same pencil on the right, other notes by AM Nazaretyan: 1) “To the PB case . A. N [azaretyan] ʺ; 2)ʺ Project ʺ.

‐ Ibid, l. 27‐29. Another copy of the same typewritten bookmark as L.

117‐119. The handwritten text editing was repeated. The letter number is not entered. At the end of the document there is no ʺCORRECT: KURYNDINAʺ. The signature formula is handwritten, the surname is inscribed in pencil by the hand of A. Nazaretyan, Assistant Secretary of the Central Committee of the RCP (b).

Notes and Comments:

The file contains a note on the letterhead of the MK RCP (b), sent on September 8, 1923, signed by the head of the Secretariat of the MK RCP (b) D. Ivanov (?) “TO THE POLITBURO of the Central Committee” with a request “to inform you whether you have revised the decision of the Politburo of 10 / Ѵ in the part concerning the introduction of our representative to the Church Commission under the Central Committee. By the resolution of the Bureau from 24 / Ѵ‐23, prot [okol] No. 7 MK was proposed to the commission instead of Comrade Zhakov, comrade. Kastelovskaya ʺ. The note is stamped ʺURGENTʺ. Stamp of the Bureau of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) with the date ʺ8 / 9‐23ʺ and the incoming number. (L. 121).

1  * Inscribed on a line in ink by hand.

2  * Corrected by ink by hand from the originally printed was deferred until 27.IX.‐p. g.

3  * Further crossed out in ink by hand originally printed and counted.

4  * written in ink on the hands in the line of the original printed served and again over the line.

5  * Inscribed above the line in handwritten ink.

6  * Inscribed above line in handwritten ink instead of strikethrough explanation.

53  See comm. 50 to d. 12.

54  See comm. 48 to d. 12.

From; Politburo and The Church, Svitlana M, Erdogan A