Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

Russia and Religion (McCabe means the U.S.S.R. mostly the 1930s)

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

Russia, Religion in. The zeal with which the anti-religious campaign was pressed (unofficially) in the ten years after the Revolution' must be understood in the light of the history of the Russian (or Orthodox) Church. Christianity had a foul record in the country until 1917, particularly in supporting every outrage of the Tsars and nobles upon the people. It was imposed upon Russia in the tenth century by "St." Vladimir, a brutal prince who raped and then "married" a Greek nun, and had in addition about a thousand concubines. It brought with it all the corruption of the Byzantine Church, and it has an even more ignoble history than Roman Christianity in the West. Peter the Great despised and insulted it, and Catherine, in her earlier years, expressed open disdain of it; but in the reaction to which the French Revolution gave occasion it became again the bulwark of the throne and blessed every injustice. In Russia even serfdom lasted until 1861, and the Church had no part whatever in the freeing of the 42,000,000 serfs; and most of the nobles continued to treat them inhumanly. The priests were for the most part very ignorant and sensual - a shade lower than the priests of Ireland - and the bishops took sides with the Tsar and bureaucracy against the people until the Revolution. No body has been louder in charges of persecution than the Roman Catholics, and it is of interest to find Catholic writers (G. London and C. Pichon, Le Vatican et le monde moderne, 1933) relating that the Vatican hailed the Revolution "with real relief," and at once approached Lenin in the hope that its own would displace the Orthodox hierarchy. This appeal was constantly repeated, notably in 1922, when the Pope got permission to join in the relief of sufferers from the great famine; but the Russians found that the priests, contrary to their agreement, used the opportunity for propaganda (p. 406), and the Soviet authorities rightly dismissed them. The American Jesuit in charge of the mission, Fr. Walsh, then turned against Russia, and in an odious and mendacious booklet charged it with horrible persecution and the massacre of 6,900 Catholics. From that date (1930) the present Pope, then Secretary of State, stridently demanded the war upon Russia which Hitler - in his own interest, but also in the hope that the Pope's intrigues in the British Empire and America would split up the Allies - at length began. The worth of the stories of barbarous persecution during the Civil War that followed the Revolution may be judged from the statement of L. Lawton, in his History of the Revolution, that the Bolsheviks killed 8,050 ecclesiastics, including 1,275 arch-bishops and bishops. The Catholic Encyclopaedia informs us that there were only about eighty archbishops and bishops in the whole of Russia at the time, and few of them were killed. The Russian Catholic, Miss Almedingen (The Catholic Church in Russia, 1923), admits that few priests, and only one bishop, were killed, and that these were guilty (of conspiracy) in Russian law. Nearly all Catholic priests in Russia, and most of the laity, were Poles, and during the White War they intrigued on behalf of Poland. See I. H. Jackson's impartial work, The Post-War World (1935). For a temperate Russian account of the facts see F. Yaroslavsky's Religion in the U.S.S.R. (1932), in which the growth of the Atheist Movement is described. For admissions, of both Catholic priests and the highest authorities of the Orthodox Church and the Jewish community, that there never was at any time a persecution of religion in Russia, see the booklet by M. Sherwood, The Soviet War on Religion (1931). The way in which the cry of persecution has been sustained in the British Press and by Anglican as well as Romanist bishops is disgraceful. Pressed by pious Members in the House, our Foreign Secretary, Arthur Henderson, consulted our ambassador at Moscow, Sir Esmond Ovey, and gave (April 24, 1930) his official report that "no case has been discovered of a priest or anyone else being punished for practising religion." No writer or paper recalled that in the last century the Russian Church had treated the Romanists with just that brutality which is now attributed to the Bolsheviks (Catholic Encyclopaedia), or that, under Lenin, Catholics for the first time in history were allowed sacred processions in the streets (Almedingen).
      The head of the Atheistic Movement, Yaroslavsky, never desired persecution, and neither Lenin nor Stalin would have countenanced it. The chief means adopted were the ridicule of religion, which, instead of inflaming the simple believers, as many think that it must, was most effective in turning them into Atheists, coupled with a correct account of the sordid history of the Russian Church. As a result, Atheism spread far more rapidly than any religion had ever advanced. It made fifty times as much progress in twenty-five years as early Christianity had made in 250 years. It is shown elsewhere [Christianity; Paganism] that the highest serious estimate of the number of Christians by the year 300 is 5,000,000, and the correct total is probably half that number; besides that, the fact that all but a very small minority abjured the faith in the Diocletian Persecution [see] sufficiently betrays the shallowness of their profession. In Soviet Russia, on the contrary, about 100,000,000 passed from the Churches to Atheism and Materialism in twenty years; indeed, since little could be done until the White War and the ensuing famine were over, we should say in the ten years from 1923 to 1933. Yaroslavsky's estimate that at most one-third of the people still belong to the Orthodox Church - the Roman Catholic Church, with its chronic conspiracy, has virtually ceased to exist - is generally accepted. It is endorsed by a Jesuit speaker in the report of the discussion of the Cambridge Summer School of Russian Studies in 1939 (Religion in Russia, 1940) As the total population was 170,000,006 in 1935, this implies (allowing for an already existing body of Atheists in the towns) the secession of at least 100,000,000 to Atheism, without any sort of persecution of religion. Even more important is the social-moral result. Serious criticism of the Soviet civilization is confined to the issue of political freedom, which is not relevant here. It is admitted that the general character of the people, which was very low under the old regime, has been remarkably improved in regard to intemperance, violence, crime, cleanliness, and mental alertness, and that the system of education and social service is one of the finest in the world. Our war alliance with Russia, and its heroic conduct, helped to dissipate the dense clouds of prejudice, largely due to religious misrepresentation, and when the world settles down we shall probably find in Russia a massive fact of importance in connection with the question of the relative social inspiration of religion or of Atheism and Materialism.

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