861.404/452: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Steinhardt ) to the Secretary of State

1766. “Public opinion of the Soviet Union learned with great interest of the press conference statement of President Roosevelt concerning freedom of worship in the U. S. S. R. The President correctly referred to the fundamental principles of the Constitution of the U. S. S. R., in regard to the freedom of worship of Soviet citizens.

The Church is separate from the State in the Soviet Union. This means that the State does not give any preference to one religion or another, and does not collect revenues for the support of churches, mosques, synagogues, etc. The citizens of the same religion form a community which supports its religious institutions by voluntary contributions.

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Freedom of worship exists in the U. S. S. R. This means that every Soviet citizen can profess any religion. This is a matter of the conscience and creed of each citizen. There are in the Soviet Union the old Orthodox Church, the new Orthodox Church, the Old Believer Church, the Armenian-Georgian Church, Molokans, Dukhobors, Mohammedans (Shiites and Sunnites), Evangelists, Baptists, Buddhists, etc. Religion is the private affair of a Soviet citizen, in which the State does not meddle and does not consider such meddling necessary.

The Constitution of the U. S. S. R., operates on the following basis: Freedom of any religion presupposes that the religion, church or community will not be used for the overthrow of the existing authority which is recognized in the country.

The policy of the Soviet Union in religious questions is set forth clearly and concisely in article 124 of the Constitution of the U. S. S. R. This article reads as follows: ‘For the purpose of guaranteeing freedom of conscience to citizens the Church is separate from the State in the U. S. S. R., and the School from the Church. Freedom of worship and freedom of anti-religious propaganda are recognized for all citizens.’”

In response to questions by several of the newspaper correspondents addressed to him after he had read the prepared statement, Lozovski went into detail concerning the functioning and support of religious institutions in the Soviet Union and pointed out that all faiths in the Soviet Union were “speaking determinately against Nazi banditry and barbarity.”35

Repeated to London for Harriman.

Steinhardt
  1. During a conversation with Secretary of State Hull on October 14, 1941, the Polish Ambassador, Jan Ciechanowski, “emphasized what he thought was lack of sufficient aggressiveness on the part of Beaverbrook and Harriman in urging a proper utterance by Soviet Russia on the religious question during their recent visit in Moscow. The Ambassador believes that a more emphatic statement by the Soviet authorities might be very helpful just now.” (860C.48/714)