• Tomislav Branković Ministry of Religion and Diaspora, Republic of Serbia


The Communist Party based its attitude to religion on Marxism-Leninism as a scientific and theoretical framework. As a critical theory of the capitalist society Marxism examined the phenomenon of religion and religious feelings in civil society and designed a project of a future socialist society. One can say that Marxism looks at the phenomenon of religion from the angle of a class society, from a materialistic viewpoint and while using the historical research method. The source of religion is in man’s alienation first from himself, then from other people and, finally, from society itself. Marxism surpasses the criticisms of religion dating back to the Enlightenment as well as the vulgar-marxist criticisms that associated religion and religious feeling with human ignorance and delusion. Marxism places religion into the historical framework including the social and economic setting which is changing, developing and thus producing or bringing about changes in religious consciousness. In their practice, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia or what was later the League of Communists of Yugoslavia had an attitude to religion and the church that was a mixture of some original Marxism but also, in much larger measure, of dogmatic, Leninist-Marxist and most often administrative –pragmatic stands which suited the then balance of political power in the state or at lower administrative levels. This attitude was also conditioned by the situation in the party, the state, Yugoslavia’s international position, the situation in the church, etc. In this context, one can say that in the actual laws and regulations governing the legal status of the church and the issue of the religious rights and liberties of citizens the atheist approach predominated, i.e. the approach that was solely and exclusively determined in relation to God. This approach seems to have predominated due to the negative experience gained by the workers’ movement in Yugoslavia between the two World Wars as well as during the course of the Second World War when the majority of church activists adopted a negative attitude to the National Liberation Movement (NLM). The process of atheization which was launched immediately following the end of the Second World War, in addition to formally playing a major role in establishing and giving legitimacy to the new social system of government, was also ongoing, in terms of its attitude to the churches, on at least two levels: 1) depoliticization of all religious communities; and 2) supression of the idea that religious attributes should be identified as national attributes in the established and traditional churches and religious communities (Serbian Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church, Islamic Religious Community).

Keywords: Communist Party, League of Communists, religion, Law on the Legal Status of Religious Communities, Serbian Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church, religious communities


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