Bezbozhnik (Russian: Безбожник; "Atheist" or "The Godless") was a monthly anti-religious and atheistic satirical magazine.
The League of Militant Atheists, was an atheistic and antireligious organization of workers and intelligentsia that developed in Soviet Russia under the influence of the ideological and cultural views and policies of the Soviet Communist Party from 1925 to 1947. It consisted of Party members, members of the Komsomol youth movement, workers and military veterans.
Bezbozhnik (Russian: Безбожник; "Atheist" or "The Godless") was a monthly anti-religious and atheistic satirical magazine, published in the Soviet Union between 1922 and 1941 by the League of Militant Atheists. Between 1923 and 1931, there was also a daily newspaper called Bezbozhnik u Stanka (Безбожник у станка; "The Godless at the Workplace"). Its first issue was published in December 1922, with a print run of 15,000, but its circulation reached as much as 200,000 in 1932.
Initially, the publication ridiculed all religious belief as being a sign of ignorance and superstition, while claiming that the religion was dying in the officially atheist Soviet Union, with reports of closing churches, unemployed priests and ignored religious holidays. Starting with the mid-1920s, the soviet government saw religion as an economic threat to the peasantry, whom, it said, were being oppressed by the clergy.
Early in the revolution, atheistic propaganda was pushed in an attempt to obliterate religion. Regarding religion more as a class enemy than a contender for people's minds, the government abolished the prerogatives of the Orthodox Church and targeted with ridicule. This included lurid anti-religious processions and newspaper articles that backfired badly, shocking the deeply religious population. It was stopped and replaced by lectures and other more intellectual methods. The Society of the Godless organized for such purposes, and the magazines Bezbozhnik (The Godless) and The Godless in the Workplace promulgated atheistic propaganda. Atheistic education was regarded as a central task of Soviet schools. The attempt to liquidate illiteracy was hindered by attempts to combine it with atheistic education, which caused peasants to stay away and which was eventually reduced.
In 1929, all forms of religious education were banned as religious propaganda, and the right to anti-religious propaganda was explicitly affirmed, whereupon the League of the Godless became the League of the Militant Godless.
A "Godless Five-Year Plan" was proclaimed, purportedly at the instigation of the masses. Christian virtues such as humility and meekness were ridiculed in the press, with self-discipline, loyalty to the party, confidence in the future, and hatred of class enemies being recommended instead. Anti-religious propaganda in Russia was an eventual success as it reduced the public demonstrations of religion.
Much anti-religious efforts were dedicated to promoting science in its place. In the debunking of a miracle—a Madonna weeping tears of blood, which was shown to be rust contaminating water by pouring multicolored waters into the statue—was offered to the watching peasants as proof of science, resulting in the crowd killing two of the scientists.
A "Living Church" movement despised Russian Orthodoxy's hierarchy and preached that socialism was the modern form of Christianity; Trotsky urged their encouragement to split Orthodoxy.
During World War II, this effort was rolled back; Pravda capitalized the word "God" for the first time, as religious attendance was actually encouraged. Much of this was for foreign consumption, where it was widely disbelieved, with Roosevelt condemning both Nazism and Communism as atheistic regimes which did not permit freedom of conscience.