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The SSSR announces 2009 Distinguished Book Award

Oct. 1, 2009

The Society for the Scientific Study of Religion has awarded its 2009 Distinguished Book prize to Paul Froese for his original work on religious repression in the Soviet Union entitled The Plot to Kill God: Findings from the Soviet Experiment in Secularization (University of California Press).

About the Book:

Paul Froese explores the nature of religious faith in a provocative examination of the most massive atheism campaign in human history. That campaign occurred after the 1917 Russian Revolution, when Soviet plans for a new Marxist utopia included the total eradication of all religion. Even though the Soviet Union's attempt to secularize its society was quite successful at crushing the institutional and ritual manifestations of religion, its leaders were surprised at the persistence of religious belief. Froese's account reveals how atheism, when taken to its extreme, can become as dogmatic and oppressive as any religious faith and illuminates the struggle for individual expression in the face of social repression.

From the Inside Flap:

"The story of the survival of religion in the Soviet Union is one of the great surprises of the end of the twentieth century. Indeed, it is so surprising that many social scientists write it off, attribute it to cultural nationalism, or ignore it. It is assumed that religion simply was given a temporary reprieve and would shortly succumb to 'secularization.' Professor Froese demolishes this assumption."--Andrew Greeley, author of The Catholic Imagination

"The Plot to Kill God is refreshingly creative in bringing evidence from a neglected but hugely important case to bear on thinking through social scientific theories of religion. This is an important contribution to a field greatly in need of just this kind of solid historical case analysis."--Christian Smith, University of Notre Dame

"A wonderful book that will break the hearts of Richard Dawkins and all the other angry atheists. After more than 70 years of intensive educational efforts and brutal persecution of religion, there were no fewer believers in Russia than in the United States."--Rodney Stark

"'Scientific' socialism in communist countries turned out to be a hollow faith incapable of replacing more traditional religions. Paul Froese beautifully shows why, and how this provides us with useful lessons about the continuing power of religion today."--Daniel Chirot, University of Washington

"Froese compellingly tests many theories about the causes of religious belief, strength, and resurgence. The Plot to Kill God highlights the close link between human nature and religious faith, thus making a broad argument about the anthropological foundation of religion while also using the tools of social science to advance our knowledge, concepts and theories about religion and society."--Margarita Mooney, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill