1945 Archives: A Priest Praises the Soviet Union

In the November 25, 1945 edition of The Living Church, a visitor from London spoke in New York City, giving a glowing account of his recent trip to the Soviet Union. He was keen to counter growing suspicion of America’s erstwhile ally from the war.

Seldom has a visitor from the Church of England aroused more interest among people of many divergent religious beliefs and political opinions than did the Dean of Canterbury, the Very Rev. Dr. Hewlett Johnson. …

[The Dean said:] “I went to Russia because I wanted to know many things – primary and final. Most of all, I wanted to know what kind of individual the Soviet Union produced. You know how the Soviet Union suffered in the war. They had 14 losses to our one. We must remember that when Russia seeks extra security against another war.

Their recovery has been wonderful. I could not help contrasting Leningrad with London. After more days of bombardment, Leningrad is practically restored. London is still full of rubble and empty places.

How have they done it? The Russians have a tremendous enthusiasm for work. Why? It is bound up with their new order. They all feel that they are working for themselves and also for others. The two basic instincts in man are the egoistic and the altruistic. Both are satisfied in the Soviet Union instead of being in conflict. This is the result of a collective life. …

I had a 50-minute interview with Generalissimo Stalin. Of the Church he said: ‘The Church has its history, and the state has its history. There have been excesses on both sides.’ The antagonism is gone: friendliness has taken its place.

There is no more fruitful soil for real Christianity than the young Soviet people today. There must be real faith in God. What does that mean? It means trust in the world we live in, trust in other people, trust in the whole of things. That is what Communism has taught me: trust in the whole of things.” …

There were a few questions after the Dean’s address. The first had to do with evil treatment of Roman Catholics by the Russians in Poland. The Dean said in reply: “I went to Poland and attended Roman Catholic churches. I heard nothing about persecution in Warsaw or Krakow – not a word.”

The second question was about the atomic bomb: should the secret be shared with Russia now? The Dean replied: “We should share everything. The atomic bomb should be shared in a great international organization. To do that would dissipate some of Russia’s present suspicion. Reverse the position, and see how you would feel. As for myself, I should like to see the atomic bomb put away and never seen again [Cries of ‘Hear! Hear!’] Let us share and use atomic energy for peace, for constructive purposes.”


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