Communism viewed religion as the biggest obstacle for the new communist order because of the “principles of forgiveness, universal love, compassion and the concept of nonresistance were the exact opposites of the principles of the class struggle which is considered the most important principle of the totalitarian system, the force that pushed forward its institutions”.
The first measures that were taken against religion were the execution of the clergy and the ban of the activities of religious institutions in 1944.
The massive popular trials that took place in the years 1945-47 against the leaders of the clergy in Albania were a living proof of the opposition that the communist regime made to religion. The Security of State, willingly or not, collected evidence, which served as a proof for the hostile activity of the religious clergy and charged them as “Vatican agents” and “collaborator with the occupant”. During this time, the closing of all schools and the religious institutions began.
Anti-religious propaganda in the communist Albania
By the anti-religious propaganda in the press, the communist government was preparing the new communist anti-religious man. Religious ideology was replaced with the communist ideology. The totalitarian ideology in the written communist press used propaganda and special ways m of functioning, distribution and punishment of the religious beliefs and popular cultures with the aim of implanting deep into the conciseness of people the communist ideals and directives. The barbaric destruction of the buildings and the sacred religious cults, their complete ruining made possible to the communist system to declare 3 million citizens as atheist.
The anti religious revolution of Durres
In 1967, the youth of the “Naim Frasheri” High School in Durres started the “new era” of radical change and battles against foreign and religious ideology took another dimension. The “non-sense” initiative of the communist youth organization “N.Frasheri” was followed by another initiative from the pupils of “29 Nentori” and then it infected all the working class of Durres. In the message addressed to the party and government institutions of that time, the youth organization of “N. Frasheri” High School, stated that: “now the time has arrived when the priests and the mullahs should earn their food and not exploit the hard working peasants”.
From the cross and the half moon to the sickle and the hammer
The authorities of the People’s Regime gave order to the institutions of the state that served as Printing Houses, Municipal Enterprises and the Postal Telegraph Telephone Office to make sure that, during the making of the documents to not use any signs or different religious symbols as the cross, the half moon and to remove the words sir and lady, and to replace these words with the word friend and use only symbols of communism.
Objects of cult were demolished or turned into stables. Icons were replaced by the photos of the communist leaders
Almost all religious institutions were “rehabilitated” and returned to “to serve the people”. Many of these institutions were demolished till the last brick. Even some of those which survived, lost all connection to religion by serving as storage and magazine repository for grain stocking and as stalls for the livestock of the ex agricultural cooperatives or state enterprises.
With many architectural changes, some mosques were saved from the total destruction like the Monastery of St. Vlash in the Vrine village. Even this building as well as others “served the people’s“ social and cultural activities. Frescoes and mural paintings disappeared from the walls of churches and were replaced with the pictures of the leaders of the communist regime.
During the communist regime in Albania
2169 Religious institutions which were closed
608 orthodox churches
157 catholic churches and
530 small mosques and masjids.