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HISTORICKÁ SOCIOLOGIE, Vol 14 No 1 (2022), 23–35

Soviet Secularisation: the Experience of the Old Believers in Eastern Latvia

Maija Grizāne

DOI: https://doi.org/10.14712/23363525.2022.3
published online: 13. 06. 2022


The article provides the first overview on Soviet secularisation and the response of priest-less Old Believers in Latvia. Unlike Russia, Latvian Old Believers had the experience of longterm living in democracy before they were incorporated in the Soviet system. This fact played a crucial role in the strategies of preserving religiosity under atheism. The studied oral life-stories demonstrate that the majority of Old Believers chose living a double life of a trustworthy Soviet citizen in public and a devoted follower of the faith in private. Overcoming restrictions in social career, education and personal realisation allowed passing the religious traditions to the further generations. At the same time, the lack of systematic religious practice and all-round social pressure contributed to the diminution of the role of religion in people’s life and their worldview.

keywords: Latvia; Old Believers; Religiosity; Soviet Secularisation; Propaganda of Atheism

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