Council on Religious Affairs Under the Council of Ministers of the
Council on Religious Affairs Under the Council of Ministers of the USSR
a Union body established in 1965 for the purpose of consistently implementing the policy of the Soviet state toward religion. Government supervision of the observance of the requirements of Soviet law in regard to religion is one of the basic guarantees of freedom of conscience in the USSR. Before the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, the central agency in charge of monitoring compliance with these laws was the Permanent Commission for the Review of Religious Questions, a body under the Presidium of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR. In 1943 the Council on the Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church was established, and in 1944 the Council on the Affairs of Religious Denominations under the Council of Ministers of the USSR. In 1965 these were consolidated in a single body, the Council on Religious Affairs under the Council of Ministers of the USSR.
The Council on Religious Affairs monitors compliance with the Constitution of the USSR, which guarantees freedom of conscience, and oversees the proper application and implementation of Soviet laws on religious practices. It checks compliance with legislation on religious denomination by religious associations and by central and local religious organizations. It makes decisions on the registration—and cessation of the registration—of prayer buildings and homes, interprets the laws on religious denominations, issues binding injunctions against violations of these laws, and maintains liaison between the government of the USSR and religious organizations whenever questions requiring decisions by the government of the USSR arise. The council has representatives at several levels—Union republic, autonomous republic, krai, and oblast. These representatives are subordinate to the council and perform their duties in close coordination with the bodies of Soviet power at the republic, krai, and oblast levels. The Council on Religious Affairs helps religious organizations maintain international ties, participate in the struggle for peace, and strengthen international friendship.
V. G. FUROV