THROUGH THE SEAMS OF THE IRON CURTAIN: CLANDESTINE NGO SUPPORT TO CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN COMMUNIST-CONTROLLED EASTERN EUROPE, CENTRAL EUROPE, AND RUSSIA, 1960–1989
Schneider, Joseph A.
Halladay, Carolyn C.
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In the same Cold War context in which the CIA’s Book Program covertly sent Western literature behind the Iron Curtain into the Communist world, Christian missionaries also used covert (and some overt) methods to smuggle Bibles to the Underground Churches of the Eastern Bloc. This thesis describes the main smuggling routes and locations and consolidates several privately published, first-hand accounts of retired Bible smugglers, with academic works providing additional insight. It follows the timeline of events leading to the greatest expansion of smuggling operations in the 1960s through the 1980s, and it examines the methods, effects, extent of success, and motives for smuggling this contraband—Bibles—which many Soviets considered dangerous to the stability of Communism. After outlining the activity in individual Eastern Bloc nations, this thesis draws parallels between Ashutosh Varshney’s use of the theories of instrumental and value rationality and the internal motivations that drove most Bible smugglers to their work—even in the face of great personal loss. Finally, this work draws a connection between the covert actions of the Underground Church and Bible smugglers and the Soviet and satellite governments’ loss of legitimacy in line with Sabrina Ramet’s assertions in Social Currents in Eastern Europe.
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