The twentieth century delivered five case studies in the politics of militant atheism: the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites, Communist China, Cuba, North Korea, and Cambodia. All were remarkably similar in their totalitarian attempts to stamp out the Christian faith.
Stalin's record of what happens when militant atheism gains control is notorious and well-known. These days Communist China and the tyranny of Mao Tse Tung is generally given a free pass. Yet the evidential record shows that Mao was every bit as vicious and hateful to Christians and the Christian Church as Stalin.
A recent biography has traced Mao through the eyes of Stalin and the Soviet Union. Documentary materials of the Soviet state are now accessible to scholars in Russia. The truths can be unveiled.
A sobering picture of Mao emerges in the book, Mao: the Real Story. [Alexander V. Pantsov and Steven I. Levine, Mao: The Real Story (London: Simon & Schuster, 2012)] which reveals Mao through his relationship with Stalin and the Soviet Union. A book review written by Frank Kikotter made the following observations.
Firstly, from the beginning Mao faithfully followed the example of Stalin in the Soviet Union and sought to model China upon Stalin's policies and ideology.
. . . once the red flag fluttered over Beijing in 1949, Mao wasted no time in imposing a harsh communist order modeled on the USSR. As the authors point out, "he looked upon Stalin as his teacher and the Soviet Union, which inspired fear throughout the world, as a model to imitate." Mao was a Stalinist attracted to the elimination of private property, all-pervasive controls on the lives of ordinary people, an unlimited cult of the leader, and huge expenditures on the military.Secondly, Mao's break with the Soviet Union was provoked by Khrushchev's rejection of Stalin after the latter's death.
While the Soviets took down their portraits and statues of Stalin, in China he remained officially in favor for decades after his death in 1953. Until a few years ago the tyrant's face could still be seen on the walls of bookshops and classrooms, painted in warm tones. He is revered in China to this day, his reputation defended by an army of fierce censors.Thirdly, Mao imitated Stalin's reign of terror and death.
Overall, by the authors' estimate, Mao was responsible for the deaths of some 40 million of his countrymen. During the Great Leap Forward, from 1958 to 1962, they reckon that 30 to 45 million people died, "many along the roads, famished and emaciated." Over a million perished during the Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976, and here too the authors have no doubt who was responsible: "He was the chief culprit of the senseless and merciless mass terror."To this day most Chinese revere Mao but only because the truth is systematically hidden from them. A good place to start would be to teach them the truth about Stalin. Then, upon realising that Mao was Stalin's faithful disciple, they may be able to open their hearts and minds to the truth.
In the meantime, the object lesson for us in the West is clear. Whenever atheists have gained power, blood has flown down the gutters in an unceasing flood.