A “SHOCKING” poster exhibition showing how grossly misrepresented the Catholic Church was in the Soviet Union in the early 20th century is doing the rounds in the US.
“The Soviet War on Religion”, according to today’s National Catholic Register, was first sponsored by the Archdiocese of Denver last October at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and it aims to serve as a warning against “rampant secularism”.
Said Father Doug Grandon, parochial vicar at St Thomas More Church in Centennial, Colorado, who masterminded the exhibition:
Where you have a disrespect for the freedom of religion, a rampant kind of secularism, this could happen again.
Among the boldly coloured images, priests are mocked as greedy hypocrites. God is portrayed as a slothful drunkard. Clergy are linked with capitalists as enemies of the Soviet working people. Parents are warned to avoid baptising children because the sacrament spreads germs.
In one 1930 poster, “an ugly old grandmother” tries drag her granddaughter to a church above which blackbirds (or maybe bats) circle. The child, dressed in a Communist Young Pioneer outfit, wants to go to school instead. The text reads:
Religion is Poison, Protect Children From it.
The Register reports:
Christianity as an obstacle to progress is another theme seen in the propaganda posters. Lenin is described as ‘cleaning the world of filth’ in a 1920 poster that shows him sweeping away the kings of England and Prussia, a wealthy industrialist, and an Orthodox priest.
After World War II, propaganda posters portray religion as being opposed to medicine and science. Images that mock the power of prayer to heal, or link the sacraments, such as communion, with spreading disease, were posted in hospitals and clinics.
Fr Grandon said:
They’re shocking historic documents, vividly harsh, and I fear, they’re particularly relevant today.