The historiography of Soviet evangelicalism has suffered from both lack of attention and lack of detail-oriented, scholarly research. These failings are not surprising, considering the limitations exerted by the Cold War and the nature of the Soviet system. From the 1920s to the 1990s, the primary limitation to research of Soviet evangelicalism lay in the creation of and access to primary sources. This lack of primary sources, combined with the incautious use of government sources, marks the early works on Soviet religion. Indeed, the problem of sources was not entirely resolved until the 1980s and 1990s, when Gorbachev’s liberalization measures allowed historians greater access to Soviet archives and eyewitnesses. A secondary limitation to research of Soviet evangelicalism has been the apparent disinterest of historians in the topic. Until the 1970s, scholarly analysis of Soviet religion focused on a broad spectrum of religious groups, giving Soviet evangelicalism only a cursory examination. When evangelical-focused works began to emerge in the 1970s – 1980s, they were primarily written by amateur historians and reflected a lack of detail and documentation. Post-Soviet scholarly works have taken advantage of the new openness to produce unique and detailed descriptions of Soviet religion, but, like previous works, they have largely failed to examine the experiences of Soviet evangelicals. These failings are no longer excusable. The Cold War and the Iron Curtain are gone, removing Western historians’ justifications for ignoring Soviet evangelicals. Indeed, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent cooling of U.S.-Russian relations have increased the urgency of examining the history of Soviet evangelicals before researchers are again banned from the archives. If Russian historians do not seize the opening in front of them, they may one day look back with regret at the missed opportunities to examine the fascinating world of Soviet believers.

Area of Specialization




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.