Christianity in the Communist World 1980

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Map Code: Ax02436

While there were only two Communist countries in 1980 – Cambodia and North Korea – where Christianity was actively suppressed, there were also only two countries where religion was freely practised, Cuba and Poland, and in both these cases Roman Catholicism was firmly entrenched, with devout populations. The vast majority of Communist countries actively discouraged Christianity (as was the case in the USSR and most of eastern Europe) or tolerated it (for example, in Angola). Discouragement could take many forms: priests were regarded with suspicion; churches were forced to close, as were monasteries and seminaries, children were actively taught atheism. Churches were driven underground in Communist China, but were still able to flourish as worship took place in clandestine groups. In 1979, under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, public worship was re-legalized, and Christian congregations have skyrocketed. North Korea’s attempts to eradicate Christianity have been perhaps the most thorough in world history. To this day, Christians have been treated as foreign agents and are likely to be deported to labour camps as political criminals, or even executed on the spot.

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