The “Lived Religion” of Evangelical Christian-Baptist Women in Soviet Siberia (1945–1991)
Keywords:Evangelical Christians-Baptists; women; oral history; Soviet history; Siberia; lived religion
This article draws upon oral history interviews of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (ECB) in Siberia to examine the lived religion of evangelical women from 1945 to 1991. The author conducted 41 interviews of 52 subjects, most of whom had participated in the ECB congregations of four provinces – Omsk Oblast, Novosibirsk Oblast, Krasnoyarsk Krai, and Irkutsk Oblast – during the Soviet period. By investigating the way ECB believers construct and interpret their experience of the Soviet period and the stories they tell of how faith informed women’s lives and identities at home, in their congregations, and in the Soviet workplace, this article argues that ECB women played a vital role in preserving the faith of their families and congregations within a secularist state that saw them as dangerous sectarians. In this respect, the article examines the particular subcultural pressures that ECB women experienced and their roles in active leadership within their congregations. In addition, the article reconstructs the stories of two women – one from Krasnoyarsk and one from Omsk – in order to demonstrate that some ECB women’s religious convictions were strengthened and confirmed just as much by their daily interactions with ardent atheists or Soviet and party functionaries as it was by relationships within their co-religionists.