Sunday, September 23, 2007

God exists, but we do not recognize him

“Atheist at the machine sit” magazine. 1925 subscription.
D. Moor (Orlov), 1924

During the War Communism years the Communist Party was fiercely fighting with the Orthocox Church. The Church had always been a part of the state and was actively supporting monarchy. And above all before the Revolution the Church had been the second greatest landlord in the country after the Tsar having great influence on rural population. So not only the temples were confiscated for common needs like warehouses and orphanages but also the minds of the citizens became the arena for ideological battle.

On the forefront of anticlerical propaganda was “Atheist at the machine sit” Magazine. It was published in 1923-1928. Its editor-in-chief was appointed Dmitry Moor (Orlov) – one of the best graphical artists of the time. Very soon the magazine turned into a general edition which covered a great variety of topics like socialist society problems, new life, international news, medicine, agriculture, history of the revolution. It became very popular among all Soviet social groups. In every library and village reading room there was always a copy of the “Atheist” available. In 1925 the supporters of the magazine founded a “Society of militant atheists” with 3 mln members by 1939.

The Magazine artwork and articles were so impressive and high quality that the Magazine quickly got famous abroad. “The Morning Post” even appointed a journalist who was attacking the “Atheist” articles on a regular basis. Catholic Church hated the magazine and got it banned in several European countries. The Archbishop of Canterbury - leader of the Church of England - even condemned it at a sitting of English Parliament.

The main fictional hero of the Magazine was Antipka (Antip – a traditional Russian name) – a lively revolutionary-tempered boy who appeared in almost every issue of the “Atheist”. His image is on the poster above. Antipka has a budenovka on his head – a military cap, which was a part of Semyon Budyonny cavalry uniform. On his chest there is a badge with Lenin’s image. The bright slogan says: “I am an atheist”. Amazingly Antipka had a living prototype: once Moor met a ragamuffin who said a brilliant phrase - “God exists, but we do not recognize him”.