In his article, “Reaching Believers: The Truth Shall Make You Free,” Thomas Kent writes about how government broadcasters throughout the Cold War used religious programming to reach believers behind the Iron Curtain (CEPA, Feb. 7, 2024).
Throughout the Cold War, government broadcasters like the Voice of America and Vatican Radio provided a lifeline of religious programming to believers targeted by communism’s official atheism. Religious activists emerged as some of the most courageous members of Soviet bloc dissident movements.
After the collapse of communism, however, the picture flipped completely. With churches open once again, Western governments ended their focus on the issue.
Meanwhile, authoritarians seized on religion. Vladimir Putin co-opted the Russian Orthodox Church and made it a pillar of his regime. The head of the church, Patriarch Kirill, is a fervent supporter of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. He was also a KGB agent code-named Mikhailov from the age of 25 (link here to academic paper detailing all references to Kirill in the KGB archive.)
Photo of President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill (2015), via Wikimedia Commons.