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Title:The Most Dangerous Sect: Baptists in Tsarist and Soviet Russia, 1905-1929
Author(s):Coleman, Heather Jean
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Koenker, Diane P.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Sociology, Social Structure and Development
Abstract:This study explores a period of profound religious searching, possibility, and change in Russia through the prism of the Baptists, the fastest growing non-Orthodox religious movement among Russians in the early twentieth century. From the 1905 imperial declaration of religious toleration to the Bolsheviks' retraction of the right of religious propaganda in 1929, the experiences of rapid industrialization, social change, and political revolution raised questions about religion and its place in private lives, public discourses, and state structures. Russian Baptists' spiritual choices forced them, whether they liked it or not, onto the front line of experimentation with the possibility for cultural and political pluralism in Russia. Observers of varying political persuasions regarded as modern the Baptist church model of a voluntary association of adult believers who chose their own leaders, gave voice to all members, and organized an array of social and educational programmes among themselves. The Baptists' presence and activities appeared to be emblematic of change in Russian social and public life, of the possibilities or dangers of an emerging civil society. The dissertation argues that, whether positively or negatively disposed toward the Baptists, their contemporaries in government, church, intelligentsia, and revolutionary circles concurred that this movement represented at once the penetration of Western ideas beyond the educated elite, the challenge of the emergence of a culture outside the boundaries of the society promoted by the state and its church, and the increasingly articulate demand of lower-class people for a voice and a role in shaping that process. Governments both before and after the 1917 revolution labelled the Baptists as "dangerous" precisely because of their organizational energies and active associational life. An examination of Baptists' personal narratives suggests, however, that their faith was a deeply personal choice, helping them to navigate the problems of dissent, of order and disorder, of modernization and westernization, and of national and social identity in their changing society.
Issue Date:1998
Description:449 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1998.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9912213
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:1998

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