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Soviet Issues Official Statement on Freedom of Religion

The Soviet Government, through its official spokesman, S. A. Lozovsky, today affirmed the existence of freedom of religion in Soviet Russia as well as freedom to conduct anti-religious propaganda.

Linking his statement to the recent comment on the subject by President Roosevelt, Lozovsky said that in Soviet Russia the church is separated from the State. He explained that churches and other religious institutions in Soviet Russia are not taxed, but clergy pay an income tax similar to other citizens. The anti-religious museums, he stated, are considered as institutions dealing with “history of man’s culture” and they “belong to the same category as planetariums.”

“There is freedom of worship in the U.S.S.R.,” Mr. Lozovsky said in his statement. “This means any Soviet citizen may adhere to any religion which is a matter for the conscience of each citizen. Religion is a private affair for the Soviet citizen in which the State does not interfere and considers it unnecessary to interfere. The Soviet Constitution provides not only the right to adhere to this or that religion but also the right of Soviet citizens not to belong to any church and to citizens to worship this or that religion. This is a matter for the conscience of each Soviet citizen.

“The Constitution of the U.S.S.R. is based on the following: Freedom to workship any religion assumes that religion, church or congregation will not be utilized for overthrow of the existing regime recognized in the country. The policy of the U.S.S.R. toward religious questions is stated briefly and clearly in Article 124 of the Soviet Constitution, which said: “In order to insure citizens freedom of conscience the church is separated from the State and the school from the church. Freedom to perform religious rites and freedom of anti-religious propaganda is recognized for all citizens.”

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