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  • Micah Coate

Old Militant Atheism and New Thought Police

Updated: Apr 27

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds.” Psalm 14:1

Have you ever heard of the term “militant atheism”? I have, but I didn’t know its meaning for years. Because I enjoy viewing debates between atheists and Christians and have read books from both, “militant atheism” was an expression in the parlance used from time to time. But given my ignorance of history, I simply and wrongfully applied this term, if only in my thoughts, to those popular and present-day atheists like Hitches, Dawkins, and Harris. These are not just atheists but those fairly determined to rid their culture and the world of religion in general. Yet, as hard as it might be to believe, I was wrong to employ the term for these types of people.


The word “militant” doesn’t just mean employing “extreme…or confrontational methods” as the New Oxford American Dictionary defines it. Not surprisingly, “militant” is something “relating to or characteristic of soldiers or armed forces.” Thus, militant atheism is just what is sounds like — a branch of the military to promote atheism by the forceful eradication of all religion.


Formed in 1925 by the Bolsheviks in Soviet Russia, marching under the motto “The Storming of Heaven,” the League of Militant Atheists, also known as “The League of Militant Godless” and the “Society of the Godless,” was responsible for reducing the number of religious communities from 50,000 in 1930 to roughly 1,000 a decade later. By 1940 "over 100 bishops, tens of thousands of Orthodox clergy, and thousands of monks and lay believers had been killed or had died in Soviet prisons and the Gulag.”1 By 1941 the League of Militant Atheists’ membership was estimated to be 3.5 million people.2 One of the founding members of the group, Yemelyan Yaroslavsky, clearly declared the group’s objective:


“It is our duty to destroy every religious world-concept… If the destruction of ten million human beings, as happened in the last war, should be necessary for the triumph of one definite class, then that must be done and it will be done.”3

Sadly, as predicted, tens of thousands of innocent people died horrible deaths for their faith in God — and only because of their faith in God.


In our understanding of Socialism and Communism, we must understand the very deep and real threat: Those purely “political and economic theories” are deeply and violently anti-religious. The connection between Socialism or Communism and atheism is not an accident nor can they be separated. As Martin Luther preached, “Let us not fool ourselves, these two systems of thought are too contradictory to be reconciled. They represent diametrically opposed ways of looking at the world and transforming the world. We must try to understand Communism, but never can we accept it and be true Christians.”4 True Marxists have always understood this, but over the years it seems the church, specifically Protestantism, remains naive to the fact.


For Communism, Socialism, Marxism, or any other secular political system to take root in a culture, God must be first removed. Masses cannot be simultaneously dependent upon God and a political regime or ideology. This is why the Soviet Union tried to stomp out anything and everything religious like places of worship, sacred literature, holy icons, and more. But today, there seems to be a new insidious form of stealth atheism in the vein of extreme political correctness. Part of this has led to a cancel culture where certain people are being “canceled,”or publicly shunned not for illegal activity but for doing, or worse yet, saying anything deemed unacceptable by social elites or those given over to the spirit of the age. As if this isn’t troubling enough, now merely thinking a thought deemed to be unacceptable will not be tolerated by the new thought police.


A woman was just apprehended earlier this month for “silently praying outside an abortion clinic in Birmingham, U.K. on the grounds that she had breached a speech buffer zone established by the local city council.”5 Yet, the woman, Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, could not have breached a speech buffer zone as she was not even speaking. When asked by the officer if she was part of a protest, Isabel honestly replied, “no.” Then the officer inquired whether or not she was praying, to which Isabel confessed that she might have been praying in her head but not out loud. At this admission, the Police then “searched her, and patted down her hair, before handcuffing her and escorting her to the station.”6

As the slogan goes, “History doesn’t repeat itself; it rhymes.” This means the atrocities of the past will happen again in the future regardless of how advanced and enlightened we may consider ourselves to be; it just won’t happen in the same fashion. While we’ll never know the details, the continual zeitgeist of the world will always be anti-religion and anti-Christ. Whether it moves under the banner of an old political theory like Communism or a new Leftist form of Globalism, freedoms of action, speech, and thought will be taken and religion will undoubtedly suffer.


Perhaps the connection between old militant atheism and a new thought police sounds nonsensical to you because thoughts can’t be revealed, let alone persecuted, if deemed unacceptable. But it might only be a matter of time. As George Orwell wrote in 1949, “Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed for ever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.”7


But what do you think?


Micah Coate, President and Host of Salvation and Stuff

  1. Theodore R. Weeks. Across the Revolutionary Divide: Russia and the USSR, 1861-1945. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_of_Militant_Atheists#cite_ref-68.

  3. Alfred McClung Lee, Elizabeth Briant Lee. The Fine Art of Propaganda. Octagon Books, 1972, p. 90.

  4. “Communism's Challenge to Christianity”, August 9, 1953, https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/communisms-challenge-christianity.

  5. https://www.nationalreview.com/news/british-woman-arrested-for-praying-silently-outside-abortion-clinic/.

  6. https://www.nationalreview.com/news/british-woman-arrested-for-praying-silently-outside-abortion-clinic/.

  7. George Orwell, 1984. Part 1, Chapter 1.

  8. Art: Staff of Bezbozhnik - 1929 issue of Bezbozhnik, via NYPL1929, cover of the Soviet magazine Bezbozhnik ("The Atheist"), in which you can see a group of industrial workers throwing Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth in the trash. Accessed from wikipedia on December 28, 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_of_Militant_Atheists#cite_ref-68.

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