Honest Workers vs. Dissidents: Self-Presentation of Evangelical Christians in the Late Soviet Union
Honest Workers vs. Dissidents: Self-Presentation of Evangelical Christians in the Late Soviet Union
Publication type
Nadezhda Belyakova 
Affiliation: Institute of World History RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Vera Kliueva
Institute of Northern Development Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute)
Address: Russian Federation, Tumen
The article deals with the process of formation of the identity of late Protestants (Evangelical Christians, Baptists and Pentecostals), which combines both religious and specific “Soviet” features. The article argues that the Soviet ideology had a great influence on the formation of their identity. At the same time, it refused to classify believers as honest and conscious citizens. Believers were marked as “others”. Most believers positioned themselves as Soviet citizens, accepting the political system of the Soviet Union and socialist values, but having their own opinions about religion and its role in everyday life. The key value of the Soviet society was the right (and the honorable duty) to labour. Accordingly, in respect of people labeled as “other” (in the study period was a common euphemism for “dissenters”) were often accused of parasitism. One of the notable categories of such “dissidents” in the late Soviet Union were Evangelical believers, who were also religious dissidents in the literal sense of the word. How did believers find the possibility of professional and creative implementation, as well as their financial support in an authoritarian state? To what extent did the traditional “Protestant ethics” (M. Weber) determine the values of the Soviet evangelicals in the socialist context? How did representatives of Evangelical communities fit into the complex social structure characterized as a system of "small transactions" of the Brezhnev’s USSR? In this study, we aim to show the position of the believers themselves, who willingly talk about their conscientious work, emphasizing the ethics of their positions and contrasting themselves with the authorities and the official discourse. At the same time, a set of strict ethical rules in everyday life made Evangelical believers popular employees in the Soviet infrastructure. We argue that during the Brezhnev’s period, the marginalization of believers at the ideological level and the restriction of access to intellectual and managerial resources were to some extent offset by their material wealth and access to certain scarce material resources and professions.
History of Belief in the USSR, free churches in USSR, the Soviet workers, work in the USSR, work ethic, Christian ethic, communistic morals, rare (demand) specialty
Publication date
Number of characters
Number of purchasers
Readers community rating
0.0 (0 votes)
Cite Download pdf 100 rub. / 1.0 SU

To download PDF you should sign in

Full version is available only to subscribers
Subscribe right now
Only article
100 rub. / 1.0 SU
Whole issue
1000 rub. / 10.0 SU
All issues for 2018
2500 rub. / 50.0 SU


1. Alekseeva L. M. Istoriya inakomysliya v SSSR. Novejshij period. Vil'nyus; M., 1992.

2. Arestov V. N. Religioznyj ehkstremizm. Soderzhanie, prichiny i formy proyavleniya, puti preodoleniya. Khar'kov, 1987.

3. Beglov A. V poiskakh bezgreshnykh katakomb. Tserkovnoe podpol'e v SSSR. M., 2008.

4. Belyakova N. A., Dobson M. Zhenschiny v evangel'skikh obschinakh poslevoennogo SSSR. 1940-e — 1980-e gg. Issledovanie i istochniki. M., 2015.

5. Bondarenko I. Tri prigovora. Odessa, 2006.

6. Vsem obschinam evangel'skikh khristian i baptistov v SSSR // Bratskij vestnik. 1945. № 3 [Ehlektronnyj resurs]. URL: http://mbchurch.ru/publications/brotherly_journal/152/ (data obrascheniya: 30.07.2018).

7. Geller M. Ya. Mashina i vintiki. Istoriya formirovaniya sovetskogo cheloveka [Ehlektronnyj resurs]. URL: https://history.wikireading.ru/158054

8. Istoriya evangel'skikh khristian-baptistov v SSSR. M., 1989.

9. Kalugin V. M. Sovremennoe religioznoe sektantstvo. Ego raznovidnosti i ideologiya. M., 1962.

10. Levada Yu. Fenomen «cheloveka sovetskogo»: sotsiologicheskie parametry // Vremya peremen: predmet i pozitsiya issledovatelya. M., 2016. S. 499—521.

11. Lyurmann S. Chto my mozhem znat' o religioznosti sovetskogo perioda? (Sopostavlenie arkhivnykh i ustnykh istochnikov iz poslevoennogo Povolzh'ya) // Gosudarstvo, religiya i tserkov' v Rossii i za rubezhom. 2012. № 3/4 [Ehlektronnyj resurs]. URL: http://www.religion.ranepa.ru/?q=ru/node/291 (data obrascheniya: 30.07.2018).

12. Lyalina G. S. Baptizm: illyuzii i real'nost'. M., 1977.

13. Osel'skij A. Istoriya zhizni sibiryaka. Mission Christliches Werk. 2017.

14. Osnovnye voprosy nauchnogo ateizma. M., 1966.

15. Programma KPSS, prinyata na XXII s'ezde KPSS [Ehlektronnyj resurs]. URL: http://leftinmsu.narod.ru/polit_files/books/III_program_KPSS_files/116.htm#1 (data obrascheniya: 30.17.2018).

16. Put' ne ukrashen tsvetami. Petr, Pavel i Lyuba Rumachik. Baptist International Evangelistic Ministries. 2005.

17. Savin A. I. «Mnogie dazhe ne dopuskayut mysli, chto sektant mozhet byt' chestnym chelovekom»: «Brezhnevskij» povorot v antireligioznoj politike i rossijskij protestantizm (1964—1966 gg.) // Vestnik TvGU. Seriya «Istoriya». 2016. № 4. S. 59—75.

18. Savin A. I. Sovetskoe gosudarstvo i evangel'skie tserkvi Sibiri v 1920—1941 gg. Novosibirsk, 2004.

19. Saprykin V. A. Sotsialisticheskij kollektiv i ateisticheskoe vospitanie. M., 1983.

20. Sinichkin A. O dinamike rosta bratstva EKhB s 1945 po 1965 god [Ehlektronnyj resurs]. URL: http://www.rusbaptist.stunda.org/dop/statist.htm (data obrascheniya: 30.17.2018).

21. Sovremennoe sektantstvo i ego preodolenie. M., 1961.

22. Firsov B. M. Raznomyslie v SSSR. 1940-e — 1960-e gg. Istoriya, teoriya i praktika. SPb., 2008.

23. Kharkhordin O. V. Oblichat' i litsemerit': genealogiya rossijskoj lichnosti. SPb.; M., 2002.

24. Khristianin i rodina // Bratskij vestnik. 1945. № 1 [Ehlektronnyj resurs]. URL: http://mbchurch.ru/publications/brotherly_journal/150/ (data obrascheniya 30.07.2018).

25. Yurchak A. Ehto bylo navsegda, poka ne konchilos'. M., 2014.

26. Beljakova N., Bremer Th., Kunter K. “Es gibt keinen Gott!” Kirchen und Kommunismus. Eine Konfliktgeschichte. Herder Verlag. 2016.

27. Beliakova N. “We ask you to put an end to lawlessness…”: Soviet believers’ letters of 1960s — 1980s as a form of communication with the government // Procedia — Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2016.

28. Beliakova N., Dobson M. Protestant women in the late Soviet era: gender, authority, and dissent // Canadian Slavonic Papers / Revue canadienne des slavistes. 2016. 58 /2.

29. Coleman H. J. Russian Baptist and Spiritual Revolution. 1905—1929. Bloomington &Indianapolis, 2005.

30. Panych O. A time and Space of Suffering: Reflection of the Soviet Past in the Memoirs and Narratives of the Evangelical Chrictians-Baptists // State Secularism and Lived Religion in Soviet Russia and Ukraine. New York, 2012.

31. Raber M. Ministries of Compassion among Russian Evangelicals, 1905—1929. Eugene, Oregon, 2016.