Herbert J. Gezork, President of Andover Newton Theological School, expressed optimism last night concerning the survival of Christianity in Communist countries, despite the vehemence and magnitude of the Marxist attack.
He said that Communism was op posed to Christianity both ideologically and historically. Ideologically, he explained, Communism is almost a religion and can tolerate no competition; historically, religion. especially in Russia, has always been associated in the communist mind with reactionary classes.
Gezork, who travelled in Russia with nine other American churchmen to meet Russian church leaders, distinguished two periods in Russia's struggle against religion. The first, extending from 1917 to 1938, was marked by severe oppression mitigated by brief periods of relief.
Threatened by the German invasion, the leaders switched to a policy of "limited freedom." This was continued in a decree in November 1954 which granted a "considerable degree of religious freedom." Gezork suggested this was because the leaders realized that religion, like a nail, went deeper the more one pounded. The number of priests has increased, however, to 35,000 today.
Finally Gezork discussed the different attitudes, ranging from acceptance to opposition, of religious leaders in the satellite nations