Dukh-i-zhizniki in America
An update of Molokans in America (Berokoff, 1969). — IN-PROGRESS
Enhanced and edited by Andrei Conovaloff, 2013. Send comments to Administrator @ Molokane. org
Addenda: [25 letters (30-6+1)] Contents
Official Documents Relative to the First and Second World Wars.[PAGE 158]
TO WHOM THIS MAY CONCERN
At a meeting attended by 259 Russian Spiritual Christians [Pryguny] (called Jumpers) which took place on the 28th day of May, 1917 at the house of lvan G. Samarin, No. 122 S. Utah St. city of Los Angeles it was resolved to have recorded with the County Clerk of Los Angeles County, California, a certain resolution drawn up by this meeting of 259 Russian Spiritual Christians.
Ivan G. Samarin, Nikolai I. Agaltsoff, Rodion T. Kulikoff and Vasiley Z. Vedeneff were empowered by the meeting to sign this notice.
The following is the wording of the Resolution:
May 28, 1917In view of The fact that we, Russian Sectarians, Spiritual Christian Jumpers [Pryguny], from different parts of Trans-Caucasia, having with great difficulties and sacrifices of our savings, left our birthplace in the first decade of the present century only for our religious convictions which do not admit military service or carrying of arms, making a home for ourselves in this peaceful and free country.
Wherefore, with enthusiasm we herewith witness: that all of us living in Los Angeles, California, and other places, cannot on the strength of these religious views, enter any existing armies, including the conscription of recruits in United States which begins, as the newspapers say, on the 5th of June of this year, provided that that is to affect us also.
[PAGE 159] We are all Russian tillers of the soil and our aim is to establish ourselves here on farms in preservation of the sacredness of religion. Though a few of us were able to realize our desires, others were compelled to live for a while in the city by the lack of funds to buy land and farming tools.
(The signatures of the heads
of families follows.)
To His Excellency, The Hon. Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of North America:
A petition of the Colony of Russian Sectarians Spiritual Christian Jumpers [Pryguny] living in Los Angeles, California and other parts of the United States:
We have the honor to report to you that we are Russian farmers, followers of the faith of [Pryguny] Spiritual Christian Jumpers, which forbids military service and carrying of arms. For the sacredness of which, upon refusing military service, our forefathers were persecuted by the authorities of the Tsars. Living through very much bitterness and bearing on their shoulders heavy burdens, they were subject to tortures, to mortal corporeal punishment by the rod, the knout, the cudgel etc. as well as confinement to forts, prisons, monasteries and mines; they were exiled from the beautiful parts of inferior Russian to Siberia, to dark Asiatic Trans-Caucasia and other places, shedding much of their innocent blood from the iron shackles and hand-cuffs.
[PAGE 160] Upon The introduction of military service in Trans-Caucasia, we were compelled to leave our birth places, our cultivated fields, our homes and households, coming in the last decade to America, to a country worthy of peace and liberty, obtaining here for ourselves and families, a livelihood by the hardest kinds of labor, not burdening the country.
Judging by the general registration of the 5fh of June of this year, it seems as though we unnaturalized foreigners must also participate in the military obligations now introduced here. But even the inclusion of our names in the military rolls is prejudicial to our consciences.
By virtue of the above we consider it necessary to notify you betimes that according to our religious convictions we cannot enter into The army of the country entrusted to your government, and to escape the possible future performance of which as well as prosecution for refusal, we ask to be exempted from its participation.
Herewith we append a resolution adopted by our community on the 28th day of May of this year.
The number of followers of this religion in America is approximately four thousand souls of both sexes, including children.
Delegates Ivan G. Samarin and Philip M. Shubin
June 2, 1917.[PAGE 161]
Office of the Provost Marshal General
June 19, 1917.Messrs. I. G. Sarnarin, M. Kolpokoff* & Philip Shubin:
[*M. Kolpokoff was the Arizona [Prygun] Molokan* delegate Mihail P. Pivivovakoff.]
[* Berokoff changed the faith label. Compare to letter above.]
Your personal call at the office this morning and the statements of the petition which you handed me this afternoon leaves me in no doubt that such complications as has arisen in connection with the registration of members of your society is due to a misapprehension of the requirements of the Selective Service law. Registration is not enlistment in the Military Service. It creates in and of itself no obligation to perform any military service. It is the means provided by law whereby liability or nonliability to combatant military service is revealed. In your case, it is the means of bringing to the attention of the authorities your claim of membership in a sect opposed to military service and the bearing of arms. This fact being ascertained as provided by law your exemption from all forms of combatant service would follow.
I understood at our morning conference that with this explanation you were willing to register and I gave you assurance that the facts as stated by you would exempt you from combatant military service. This letter is sent at your request in order that it may appear in writing just what understanding was reached at our conference this morning.
Very truly yours,
Provost Marshal General.EMC-eef
[After 1928, American Pryguny began to transform their faith to the Dukh-i-zhiznik faiths by changing rituals, holidays, songs and prayers using their ritual book Kniga solnste, dukh i zhizn'. Practicing Pryguny were extinguished in North America by the mid-1950s. In America, Molokan congregations only exist in San Francisco and Sheridan, California.]
Secretary of War, Washington, D.C.:-
The Colony of Russian [Spiritual] Christian
Molokan Spiritual Jumpers [Dukh-i-zhizniki], a
religious sect, of Los Angeles, California,
Oct. 15, 1940
In the month of June, 1917, The organized Brotherhood of Molokan Christian Spiritual Jumpers [Pryguny] of Los Angeles, California, filed their petition with the President of the United States, praying for exemption of their young men from military service, for religious reasons.
Said petition was signed by representatives of 259 families only, because the special meeting for that purpose, was called on short notice, and all of the members of the organized Brotherhood therefore did not have the opportunity to be present.
We consider it necessary to inform you and whom ever it may concern, that with the increase during the last 23 years, the colony of Russian Christian Spiritual [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Jumpers, a religious sect, at the present consists of approximately 1500 families, numbering 10,000 persons.
Should it be requisite, we will furnish the names of all the heads of our families.
We respectfully submit the above stated facts and pray that you order that the names of the petitioners herein, be added to the original petition of the 259 families heretofore filed in June, 1917, as hereinabove stated.
Dated at Los Angeles, California, September 21st, 1940.
Addenda VNational Headquarters
SELECTIVE SERVICE SYSTEM
21st Street and C Street, N.W.
October 16, 1940David Miloserdoff,
John K. Berokoff.
Receipt of the petition of The Colony of Russian [Spiritual] Christian [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan Spiritual Jumpers is hereby acknowledged, and it is hereby noted that similar petition were received by The President and by the Secretary of War.
Pursuant to our conference of this date I shall herein endeavor to briefly summarize the portions of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 and the regulations issued thereunder applicable to conscientious objectors.
Subsequent to registration, the registration cards will be delivered to the respective local boards of the residences of the registrants. After the national lottery, which determines The assignment of order numbers, questionnaires will be sent by the local boards to the registrants. At first the questionnaires will be sent only to registrants having the lower order numbers. On page 6 of the questionnaire appears a section with respect to conscientious objectors which is designated as "Series X.--Conscientious Objections to War." Such portion of the questionnaire provides an opportunity for conscientious objectors to make claim for exemption.
In addition to making a claim by properly executing Series X of the questionnaire, the conscientious objector should also execute Form 47 in substantiation of his claim. Such form should be obtained from the local board and after execution should be filed with it.
The local board will proceed to classify the conscientious objector in the same manner as other registrants. If the conscientious objector is classified into a deferred class, there will be no need to pass upon his claim of conscientious objection. However, if the conscientious objector is not classified into a deferred class, but would, except for his conscientious objection, be classified into Class I, the local board will pass upon such claim.
In passing upon such claim, if the local board finds that the claimant is by reason of his religious training and belief conscientiously opposed to combatant service in which he might be ordered to take human life, but is not conscientiously opposed to noncombatant service in which [PAGE 165] he could contribute to the health, comfort and preservation of others, the claimant shall be liable for non-combatant service only. However, if the local board finds that the claimant by reason of his religious training and belief is opposed to both combatant and noncombatant service, the claimant shall be liable only for assignment to work of national importance under civilian direction under such rules and regulations as may be later prescribed. If the local board does not make either of such findings and does not allow the claim, the claimant will be classified in Class I and remain liable for combatant service.
If the claim has not been allowed, in whole or in part, and if the claimant is dissatisfied with the decision of the local board, he will upon request have an opportunity to appear in person before the local board, at which time he may discuss his classification and point out the class or classes in which he thinks he should have been placed. If after such appearance the local board does not alter its decision and change the classification, the claimant may appeal to the board of appeal. If the question of conscientious objection is the only point involved in the appeal, the board of appeal will transmit to the Department of Justice the records and all other evidence transmitted to it by the local board. The Department of Justice will then make an inquiry and hold a hearing, at which time the claimant will have an opportunity to be heard. Should the Department of Justice be of the opinion that the claim is justified, if will recommend to the board of appeal either that the claimant be assigned to non-combatant service, or that he be assigned to work of national importance under civilian direction. Otherwise, the Department of Justice shall recommend to the board of appeal that the claim be not sustained. Upon receipt of recommendation of the Department of Justice the board [PAGE 166] of appeal will determine The question after giving consideration to the recommendation of the Department of Justice.
I appreciate your interest in this matter and your desire to cooperate in carrying out and complying with the Act and regulations. I hope that the above summary will satisfactorily serve your purposes. For complete details of the procedure you should refer to the exact language of the Act and regulations, copies of which are enclosed herewith.
April 17, 1942
Southern District of California
1431 Post Office Bldg.
Los Angeles, California
Honorable Harry A. Holizer
Dear Judge Holizer:
Your Honor will recall that on last Monday's calendar, there appeared the names of three young men charged with violation of the Selective Service and Training Act of 1940, in that they had failed and refused to enter the services of the armed forces of the United States after having been instructed to do so by the legally constituted Selective Service Boards.
[PAGE 167] In the course of the Probation System pre-sentence investigation conducted by this office, it was discovered that these three defendants were members of the [Dukh-i-zhiznik faiths] Molokan Church. It was asserted that the chief tenet of the faith of that organization was a strict prohibition against the killing of a human being and, consequently, the bearing of arms. My officer felt that a greater knowledge of the church and its background would be necessary if a true picture of training and belief of these youths was to be presented to the courts. Viewing the probability that a great many young men of the Molokan faith would eventually be presented as defendants in similar cases, it was thought best to meet with the leaders of the Molokan Church and gain definite, accurate information as to that institution.
Through the mother of one of the three defendants, a meeting was arranged in the Federal Building of the heads of the six [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Congregations. Before this was done, my officer informed Mr. Lambeau of the United States Attorney's Office of the proposed exploratory meeting and asked that an assistant United States attorney be present in order that no statement from the Probation Officer could be presented to the Molokans which would give them an idea that the meeting was judicial or quasi-judicial, or of any legal bearing on the cases at issue. Mr. Lambeau assigned Mr. Duni to attend the meeting, and this was arranged. Also, before the meeting was opened my officer informed your honor of the meeting and it's purposes.
Inasmuch as too many persons representing the six [congregations] churches of the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan faiths were present at 10:00 A.M. April 16, 1942. to be accommodated in any room of the Probation Office, it was arranged that the meeting be held in the Grand Jury room in this building.
[PAGE 168] Probation Officer Meador explained to the group through it's own interpreter the reason for asking those present to attend. He stated that he wished to learn the history of the sect; it's tenets; the reason The members of the group came to the United States; and any other facts which might give light to Your Honor and the other judges of this District who may sit in judgment on cases covering the religious scruples of members of the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan faiths.
The information given at this meeting is as follows.
In Los Angeles there are six congregations of the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan Church. These [congregations] churches have no real central authority but are supervised by leaders elected by their entire memberships of churches, and who meet together from time to time to take up matters affecting all of their members. The only reason for having six congregations is to locate them in centers of [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan population and to avoid having too many persons in one edifice at the services. [Actually, they immigrated from different villages, each with their own presbyter, elders, and prefer to remain separate due to variations in faith and rituals.] Their ministers are not salaried; in fact, laymen preach many of the services, and often preaching duties are rotated among elders and leaders of the congregations. The service in four of the [congregations] churches is conducted in the Russian language, but in two, part of the time and in one [congregation] church all the time, services are conducted in English for the younger more Americanized attendants. The [Dukh-i-zhiznik faiths] Church does no proselytizing, maintains no missionaries, does not have a hierarchy or governing officials. [The most zealous Maksimisty are opposed to inter-group meetings and disrupt any attempt to hold them.]
During the seventeenth century
in central Russia, an English doctor at St. Petersburg
(presumably a Quaker) became acquainted with certain
influential Russians and interested them in his
religious views; one tenet of which was against bearing
arms. Not only the officials, but their servants became
interested, then convinced, and [PAGE 169]
commenced the spread of these doctrines. From
this small beginning, the sects of Dukhobors and Molokane
sprung. [About 100
years later the Pryguny
It is said that a delegation of [Molokane] Molokans petitioned Catherine the Great and that she exempted their members from military service for 99 years. After that time, they were again conscripted into the army or suffered punishment. In about 1830 the Czar moved [some of] the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans into Trans-Caucasia, and they lived there approximately fifty years under military exemption.* Then, again, the conscription and punishments were restored.
[* Myth. Russian sectarians were never given a 50-year military exception in the Transcaucasus. The Tsar's order was to relocate to the Transcaucasus only those sectarians who were "most dangerous" "state peasants" (owned by the Tsar), and not eligible for the military — women, children, elderly, and men discharged from the military. In newly acquired territories, military draft was not legal until the Tsar established control in the area. For most of the Transcaucasus the draft was scheduled to begin in 1887, for Kars 1890. Beginning in 1830, sectarians were offered land in the Transcaucasus, up to 1/4 (some got 1/3) square mile per household, to isolate them from the Orthodox. Many fled to the Transcaucasus who were not eligible to be there — criminals, draft dodgers, and non-state peasants. Little was done to return these illegals back, hence the myth that they got 50 years of military exemption. For much more detail, see Breyfogle: Heretics and Colonizers: Forging Russia's Empire in the South Caucasus (PhD thesis and book).]
Just prior to the year 1900, a group of three [Spiritual Christian delegates (2 Prygun, 1 Molokan)] Molokans [page 19] were sent to Canada to investigate the desirability of emigrating to that country. They were offered military exemption for 99 years, but the climate was thought to be too severe [, Doukhobors were denied communal land], and they were told of Southern California in the United States [probably by P.A. Demens who offered jobs and legal aid], which had no compulsory military service, and they investigated. They returned to Russia and gathered together groups which emigrated to Los Angeles [. Soon they separated to Hawaii (for 5 months), ] San Francisco, the San Joaquin Valley; Ensenada, Mexico, and Mexican points; [Utah, New Mexico, Washington, Oregon,] as well as two location[s] in Arizona.
It is believed that there are now about 10,000 [Spiritual Christians] Molokans in the United States. At that time it is also asserted that Argentina offered military exemption to this sect for 99 years, but they preferred the United States.
During the war in 1917
numerous members of this sect refused to bear arms and
likewise to purchase liberty Bonds; however, in lieu of
such purchases, they made corresponding donations to the
American Red Cross. Those [34 in Arizona] who refused induction
in that war were jailed and 
[PAGE 170] Upon the direct question as to whether or not the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans would serve as stretcher bearers, truck drivers for the Army, or similar capacities they informed us that they could not do so, but that they would till the soil, do fire prevention work, forestation or anything else for the United States that did not have any connection with killing or aid to killing.
At the conclusion of the meeting which lasted approximately one hour, it was the thought of Mr. Duni and Mr. Meader, that these persons spoke for the entire [Spiritual Christians] Molokans sect; that the history for more than two hundred years attested their sincerity in their belief against bearing arms and against conflict; that they would do their patriotic duty in any other manner and that there was no attempt on the part of their church organization in the line of subversive activities.
In the belief that many cases concerning [Spiritual Christian] Molokan men will come before the courts in this district, it is desired to mimeograph a sufficient number of copies of this document to supply one in connection with each separate case. This plan was outlined to the Senior Judge who stated that if we believed that the group who met with us spoke for the entire body of Molokans, such program would have his approval in that it might save duplication of labor and of time in succeeding cases. We do believe as outlined above, therefore will take the action to which I refer.
Trusting that this information will provide a broad background of information for Your Honor and the other Honorable Judges of this district, I am
April 4, 1942Mr. Harold Stone Hull
544 East Orange Grove Ave.
Dear Mr. Hull;
In answer to your communication of March 26 to our Mr. Eropkin, asking for a statement on the [Spiritual Christian] Molokans history, etc., we herewith submit a brief outline of the origin of Molokanism and its reasons for emigrating to America, as well as its mode of life here in California.
Historical research does not
give any definite date or place of the origin of [Spiritual
Christianity] Molokanism. Apparently, it
followed in the general European reformation of the
16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The Russian Encyclopedia
is the authority for the statement that [Spiritual
Christianity] Molokanism originated in the
last half of the 18th century, in the central provinces
of Russia, adding that the first official use of the
word "Molokan" occurred in 1765. [The word Pryguny
about 1856 in New
were formalized in 1928 in Los Angeles.]
The [Spiritual Christians] Molokans themselves, being of poor and illiterate peasant stock in a backward nation, have no written records of their origin, but [scholars] Non-Molokan writers ascribe Their origin to an English surgeon (presumably a Quaker) who while traveling in Russia on business was able to spread the word among peasants and artisans who later themselves proceeded to be good missionaries.
From Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, we learn that [Spiritual Christianity] Molokanism was originally a simple Christianity marked by anti-Ritualistic opposition to the state church. The Russian Encyclopedia adds that "the Molokans teach the evasion of those laws which in their opinion are contrary to the Holy Scripture as for instance the laws of military service and the taking of oaths".
Like other dissident sects of that period, the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans had to endure cruel persecution for their beliefs from [PAGE 172] the Russian church and State. They sought to alleviate such cruelties by petitions to the Tsar, but were only partly successful.
In the year 1839 they were given permission to settle in the then wild frontier countries, such as Siberia, [Azerbaijan,] Armenia, Georgia, and Crimea. [For being pioneer colonists] Together with this permission they were given an exemption from military service for a period of 50 years. [See explanation above.]
Our immediate ancestors [were offered land and toleration, and voluntarily] chose to settle in small villages throughout Trans-Caucasia, where in short space of time, by their industry and thrift they were, able to establish a standard of life far above the surrounding native population.
Upon the expiration of the 50 year period the government again forced military service upon our people [, unless they again became colonists in Kars oblast or Turkmenistan]. Whereupon the elders began to seek other places of refuge. Many different places were suggested and tried, but none proved to be satisfactory.
In the year  1900 when the
were living in neighboring villages—and who were having
similar difficulties— [1/3] were settled in Canada, our elders
sent a delegation there to determine whether they too
could find the same refuge.
Upon the return of the delegation with a favorable report, a determined effort was made to secure from the Russian Government a further exemption from military service. Failing in this, they fried to secure permission to leave the country "en masse". This was also denied them. It was then decided to move to America in small groups.
In 1903, three [Spiritual Christians (2 Prygun, 1 Molokan)] [page 19] Molokans, without families arrived in Canada. The climate there, seemed too severe for them. While there they met some Russian political refugees [Demens?], who told them that the same freedom from compulsory military service, and the same opportunities to make a living [PAGE 173] exist in the United States as in Canada. They further recommended Southern California as an ideal place [where Demens offered work in his businesses and help to find farm colonies].
The three [Spiritual Christians] Molokans
immediately departed for Los Angeles. Following them
came other groups, small and large until 1912, at which
time there were about 4,000 of us in Southern
California. [Less than 1% of the Russian
Spiritual Christians migrated to the U.S.]
In coming to America we had no
intention to live in cities, but having expended all of
our resources in getting here we were forced to stop in
cities to recuperate. [Actually, Demens personally guided them to Los
Angeles, provided train fare and offered jobs in his
businesses (lumber, laundry). They were greeted by the
Bethlehem Institutions which specialized in converting
poor illiterate immigrants into tax-paying citizens.
The city provided mild climate, utilities (water, gas,
electric, sewage), free medical care, free child
daycare, free county burials, free education, free
English and citizenship classes, free job training and
placement, low-cost public transportation, indoor
plumbing, urban entertainment, police and fire
services, much higher wages than rural life; and a
choice of many Protestant faiths and city
Unfortunately, however, the
temptation to remain in the city became stronger as the
years went by. Although many efforts were made to settle
the whole group on farms, none proved successful.
However, there are a number of successful small groups
living on farms in California, Arizona, and Oregon. [Most of the colonizers
were sold poor land at high prices.]
When the United States entered the last war in 1917 the [Pryguny] Molokans again bestirred themselves towards securing exemption from compulsory military service.
In June of that year they sent a delegation of three men to Washington, D.C. with a petition to President Wilson in which, among other things, it was stated that, "even the inclusion of our names in military rolls was prejudicial to our consciences".
In answer to this petition Provost Marshal General Crowder, in a letter dated June 19, 1917, gave them the same status as conscientious objectors as the Friends, Mennonites and other historic peace churches. Notwithstanding this fact, seven members of our faiths were given sentences of 12, 15 and 25 years for draft evasion in the last war. Happily they were released soon after the end of the war.
In September of 1940 after the passage of the present selective service act, the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans, realizing that the act as it relates to the conscientious objector is so complicated [PAGE 174] that the average [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan boy affected by the act could not secure the full benefit of the law decided to elect an advisory council to assist any [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan registrant seeking its advice.
The present duties of the Advisory Committee is to maintain contact with the National Service Board, to raise funds for the maintenance of assignees in C.P.S. Camps and act in a general advisory capacity to the whole Molokan group on C.O. matters.
At the present time there are approximately 10,000 [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans in the United States. Some of them are farmers many are laborers, the majority are artisans, mechanics and truck drivers.
The majority are either native born or naturalized American citizens and many more would apply for naturalization if they were not deferred by their objection to taking an oath and by the knowledge that citizenship would be denied them unless they were willing to take arms to defend the country in time of war.
In Los Angeles, there are six branches of the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan church. There are also branches in Shaffer, Kerman, and San Francisco, California, as well as Glendale, Arizona and Shedd, Oregon.
The tenets and services in all
these branches are identically the same. [False.] The
services consist of singing of Psalms and songs, reading
of the scriptures, prayer, and exhortations and the manifestations
of the Holy Spirit as recorded in the 2nd chapter of
Acts, called jumping. [By the mid-1950s the Prygun services in Los
Angeles and Arizona had been extinguished by the Dukh-i-zhizniki. Prygun congregations
remained in Mexico and San Francisco to the
The sole reason of having six
in Los Angeles is that upon arrival in America, each
regional group desired to remain under the pastorate of
the man who was their pastor back in the village at
home. This system continues until the present time,
although there is a marked tendency towards unification
which has [PAGE
175] resulted in
one branch ["Big
Church"] becoming much larger than the others.
In conclusion I would like to quote from an author who has made a 5 year study of the [Pryguny] Molokans in Los Angeles.
Pauline V. Young in the "Pilgrims of Russian Town" says, "[The Prygun faith] Molokanism is both a system of thought and a way of life. The [Prygun] Molokan is a man of prayer and in His most ordinary acts closely associates sacred with secular attributes. To the [Prygun] Molokan active in faith, distinction between the two is unknown. Belief and act are inseparable."
Trusting that this short resume would be Sufficient, I remain,
Office of the Assistant to the Attorney General
April 20, 1944
Mr. John K. Berokoff, Secretary
My dear Mr. Berokoff:
This acknowledges your letter of April 20, 1944, signed by yourself and ten other ministers and elders of the Brotherhood of Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Jumpers with reference to the hearings conducted by the Hearing Officers of this Department in conscientious objector cases involving members of your sect.
[PAGE 176] At the outset, I wish to assure you and your associates that this Department has always recognized the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan Church as a "Peace Group" sect, and the tenets of your religion with regard to participation in war are well known to all officials of this Department engaged in the administration of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940.
I desire to point out, however, that membership in the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan Church or any other religious denomination does not necessarily qualify a Selective Service registrant for exemption as a conscientious objector. The state of the individual registrant's conscience, rather than his affiliation with any particular denomination, is the question of fact to be determined in deciding whether or not he shall be exempted as a conscientious objector.
While the members of the older generation of [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans may be conceded to adhere strictly to the principles and teachings of their religion, it has been found that many of the younger members professing membership in the [Dukh-i-zhiznik faiths] Molokan Church have so far deviated from the strict requirements of their religion that they have been found wanting in the "religious training and belief" which would warrant exemption as conscientious objectors.
I wish to assure you, however, that this Department is as concerned as the elders and ministers of your church about this particular problem and I feel quite certain that Hearing Officers Williams, Hartke and Files will make every effort to decide [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan cases coming before them with the utmost consideration and fairness. Of course, each case must be decided upon its individual merits.
The matter has been called to the attention of the Hearing Officers involved, and I have no hesitation in [PAGE 177] assuring you that you will receive the sympathetic understanding of any one of these Hearing Officers if you desire to make representations to them concerning any particular case which may be referred to either of them in the future.
Very truly yours,
[Spiritual Christians] MOLOKAN BRETHREN IN IRAN
PRESIDENT HARRY S. TRUMAN
SUPPORTING COVER LETTER
L0S ANGELES ELDERS
To His Excellency, Harry S. Truman,
Enclosed herewith is a petition of our friends in Iran which we are forwarding to you at their request. We also enclose an English translation of the petition which too, was made at their request.
In forwarding this petition we are not unmindful of the fact that the President of this nation is occupied with far more important matters than the affairs of a small group of foreign refugees in far off Iran, but the desperate plight of these brothers in faith compels us to take the presumptuous step of trespassing upon your valuable time.
Since the close of the recent war, many of us individually and our whole [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Community collectively, have been frequently receiving urgent and pathetic pleas for help from these unfortunate people. Their letters to us are, naturally, written with less restraint than the enclosed petition, hence their description of the life of a small group of Christians amidst a fanatically Mohammedan population is far more graphic and inspirational of pity.
We as the more fortunate members of the same religious faith, did not remain unresponsive to their pleas. [PAGE 179] On numerous occasions sums of money were collected and forwarded to them for their immediate needs. Indeed, some of us who have relatives among the petitioners have made applications through regular Immigration channels for their admission to the United States, and provided funds for their passage as well, but until now only two families were thus admitted.
The suffering and privations of these refugees as narrated to us by the two recently arrived families intensified our concern for them many-fold, that is why we join them in their pleas. Cannot some ways be found to facilitate their admission to this country?
If seems that most of these people were born in a part of old Russia (the Province of Kars) which had been acquired by Turkey after the first World War. Consequently, a ruling has been made by either the Consulate at Teheran or by the Immigration authorities in Washington, that they must seek admission not under the Russian quota which is large, but under the Turkish quota which is very small. We respectfully submit that this ruling is unjust and creates an unnecessary obstacle in their path towards admission. Cannot this obstacle be removed by permitting them to file under the Russian quota?
As naturalized and native-born citizens of the United States, as residents and tax payers of this country for over forty years, we vouch for the integrity, industry, and collective temperance and character of these petitioners. Furthermore, we can assure you, Mr. President, that they are entirely free from any subversive elements, and if admitted, they will not become a burden upon any private or public institution for their subsistence, but that they will become law-abiding, self-supporting citizens of this great nation.
[Signed by 6
Dukh-i-zhizniki, a Prygun, but no Molokane.]
[Addenda X missing]
To His Excellency Harry S. Truman,
We are Spiritual Christians — Molokans, [Pryguny, Subbotniki, with a few Baptists and Orthodox,] numbering approximately 300 souls. By profession we are farmers, cotton raisers, cattle raisers, dairymen, and some mechanics. We have fled the Soviet Union and came to Iran in the early 1920's.
The Soviet Government had been pursuing all religious people. As a result of this, many of our brethren [PAGE 181] in faith perished from tortures, in prisons and in exiles, many were forcibly separated from their families, wives from their husbands, and infants from their mothers.
However, nothing they could do caused us to be afraid. They could not quench in us our faith in the living God, for we were guided by the word of God as it is written in the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, Chap. Eight, Verse 35: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecutions, or famine or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in ail these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Even as the Saviour himself hath said: "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul."
Suffering from harsh and cruel tribunals, many of our brethren fled from city to city and from village to village, until some decided to escape to countries where people still confessed their faith in the Almighty Creator.
Over dangerously steep and rocky mountains and cliffs, carrying our beloved children on our backs, not infrequently leaving them behind, frozen to death in the snow, without clothing or any means of subsistence, we finally crossed the border into Iran which is adjacent to the Soviet Union. But alas! our reception here was not hospitable owing to the religious fanaticism of the people. The Government would not permit us emigrants to settle where we could more easily make a living for our families, instead directed us, for the most part, into tropical and malarial regions where many of us died of various tropical diseases. Existing from the very beginning of our emigration under the severest kind of living conditions, having no means of livelihood, neither property nor any land fit for cultivation, we are doomed to perish here.
Reading in the newspapers where your Excellency, [PAGE 182] as a religious Christian, upon taking the office you prayed God to grant you wisdom to govern the people as he hath granted to Solomon the King of Israel. We could now clearly discern as could all the peoples of the world, that God did invest your mind with that wisdom and love towards humanity so that now all religious people of the world turn their face towards you, Mr. President.
This is further attested to by the letters of our Brethren in faith who since 1904, have been living in the United States of America in the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno and other communities of California and Arizona.
In view of everything set forth above we, elders and children alike, humbly beg you, Mr. President, on our bended knees, turn your merciful gaze upon us who are weary because we have suffered much, have been persecuted for the Word of God and for the sake of righteousness. Take us under your protection and permit us to enter the confines of the United States of America, where we could be useful to your country and where we could praise and worship our God in peace and happiness.
May the words of our lord Jesus Christ be fulfilled by you, for He hath said: "Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done if unto me": Matthew 25, Verse XXXX.
Our brethren in faith
who live in the United States and who number
approximately 15,000 persons, will vouch for our
dependability and love of labor.
July 21, 1947
[PAGE 183] [Addenda XII missing]
In reply refer to
October l5,1947Mr. John K. Berokoff,
[Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Advisory Council,
335 South State Street,
Los Angeles, California.
I have by reference from the White House your communication of September 14, 1947, and its enclosures, concerning your interest in the visa applications of persons born in the Province of Kars.
It may be explained that for quota purposes the law requires that nationality be determined by the country of the alien's birth. Persons born in territory which has been transferred from one country to another, such transfer having been recognized by the United States, shall be considered to have been born in the country to which the territory was transferred. The United States has recognized the transfer of the Province of Kars to Turkey and, consequently, persons born therein are chargeable to the Turkish quota.
Very truly yours,
RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE [Dukh-i-zhiznik] MOLOKAN
Hon. Carl Vinson, Chairman
The undersigned members of the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Spiritual Christian [congregations] Churches in Los Angeles and vicinity are deeply concerned regarding the Proposed new Selective Service Bill H.R. 7442. Individually and collectively we feel that compulsory military training is not a solution to the present world crisis. We feel that a large military establishment in the age of the atom bomb and other hellish weapons is altogether superfluous. Solutions based on Christian and humane principles should be sought by responsible government officials. We therefore earnestly urge that present plans for compulsory military training be abandoned.
[PAGE 185] Furthermore as religious objectors to war and military training in any form, we earnestly urge that in the event the proposed new bill is to be considered, provisions for conscientious Objectors as embodied in the Selective Service Act of 1948, (Section 6, J) be restored in its entirety.
Very sincerely yours,
Hon. Andrew May, Chairman
I am enclosing herewith a copy of a resolution passed by delegates of our several churches at their meeting on February 18th of this year. This resolution expresses the unanimous sentiment of our people on this subject.
I shall be very happy to send you any additional information on the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan people that you may desire.
Hon. Clifton A. Woodrum
Enclosed is a copy of a resolution passed by delegates of our several churches on February 18th last. The Resolution expresses the unanimous sentiment of our people on the post-war plans for military conscription. I would he very happy to furnish any further information on the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan people that your committee may desire.
WHEREAS, it has come to our attention that the Congress of the United States of America has before it a proposal to enact a bill to initiate permanent peacetime military training in the United States and,
WHEREAS, the United States of America has existed as a nation without peacetime compulsory military service since its beginning and,
WHEREAS, this has been a vital factor in attracting to the nation the best of human elements from the four corners of the world, enabling it to grow and prosper beyond the dreams of its most far-sighted founders, and
WHEREAS, permanent military training will tend to breed a professional military class which, by its nature, is bound to be undemocratic and in direct contravention to the intents and desires of the founders of the nation and framers of its Constitution, and
[PAGE 187] WHEREAS, the Brotherhood of the Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Jumpers, [also] known as the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans, has as one of the principal tenets of its religious faith, objection to military service of any kind, in peacetime or in war, and
WHEREAS, The [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans have, on numerous occasions, made this tenet known to the various governments of the United States of America, notably in a petition to President Woodrow Wilson in June of 1917 and in a similar petition to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in October of 1940, as well as in subsequent communications to Various officials of the Federal Government. Therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the Brotherhood of the Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Jumpers, comprising in its entirety approximately 10,000 persons residing in the states of California, Arizona and Oregon, through the representatives of its several branches in meeting assembled at Los Angeles, Calif., do again make known to whomever it may concern, our unalterable objection to military service and to urge the lawmakers of the nation to refrain from passing any legislation for the establishment of permanent military conscription, which, in the long run, will certainly be detrimental to the nation's welfare, and further be it
RESOLVED, that the Brotherhood of the Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Jumpers, through its representatives, do again inform whomever it may concern that, in the event that legislation is passed establishing permanent compulsory military service in the United States, if is our intention to abide faithfully by the tenets of our religion in respect thereto, and further be it
RESOLVED, that copies of this
Resolution, together with copies of the Petitions to
President Wilson and [PAGE 188] President
Roosevelt, be forwarded to the Chairman of the House and
Senate Military Affairs Committees, to Senator Sheridan
Downey and Senator Hiram Johnson and to each member of
the California delegation to the House of
Representatives. Dated at Los Angeles, California,
February 18, 1945.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON
POST-WAR MILITARY POLICY
My dear Friend:
Your communication relative to Universal Military Training has been received and will be filed with the Committee on Post-War Military Policy.
The Committee has conducted open public hearings on the broad general policy of Post-War Military Training. A full opportunity has been given for the presentation of the views of those who favor and those who oppose this policy.
Your interest in this matter is appreciated.
Clifton A. Woodrum
House of Representatives
May 9, 1945
Mr. John K. Berokoff, Secretary,
Received your letter of April 23rd and the resolution attached thereto. I am glad to have the information regarding the beliefs of the brotherhood.
The question of compulsory military training will come before the Military Affairs Committee soon for decision. I do not know what form of military training will be adopted by Congress. Regardless of the type of training decided on, however, I believe provisions should be contained therein which would grant to conscientious objectors immunity from such military training. I will personally offer such an amendment when the proper time arrives.
With the present tenor of public opinion, I believe some type of compulsory military training will be passed and it is my opinion religious groups such as yours, Seventh Day Adventist, the Friends, and other similar groups would do well to concentrate your influence on making sure such a provision of immunity is contained in the measure, rather than expending your influence fighting against the proposal of compulsory military training.
I would appreciate your views on the thoughts I have outlined.
[By the 1960s, the
remaining congregations of diaspora Spiritual
Christian Pryguny were extinquieshed.]
[PAGE 190] [Addenda XX missing]
CONCERNING EMIGRATION TO
OCT. 2. 1964
The [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan
community of Los Angeles as represented by the elders of
the various [congregations]
deem it advisable at this time to acquaint the American
public with their position relative to the recent
reports that a mass emigration to Australia is
contemplated. It is considered timely and appropriate at
this time to state that the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans
of the United States hold no grievances against anything
or anyone pertaining to their life in America. Being a small,
little known Christian Protestant sects, holding to
convictions considered strange or old-fashioned by some,
such as wearing of beards, observing of Mosaic dietary
laws, conscientious objection to military service etc.
we have at all times been treated with courtesy,
consideration and fairness in our dealings with local
people, local, state and Federal authorities. The [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokan
people are unanimous in considering America as a holy
refuge from the evils that befell the world since 1914.
It is true that when the [Prygun] Molokan
leaders of the previous generation led our people to
America from Russia in the first decade of the present
century they did so in response to a revelation received
by a youthful prophet [E.G. Klubnikin] in the middle
of the previous century. At that time it was foretold
that our sojourn in America would not be a permanent
one. However, the duration of our stay here was not
[PAGE 191] The
small group of our people who sailed recently to
Australia, did so not because of any economic or
political reasons but to an inner response to a
prophetic revelation that the time of our sojourn here,
as foretold by previous prophets, has ended. It is not
true however, that a mass emigration to Australia or to
any other place, is being contemplated now. The majority
of our people believe that a further confirmation of the
recent revelation is necessary before an emigration of
such magnitude, entailing as it does, privations and
hardships, is or should be attempted.
OF CONCORDIA SEMINARY OF ST.LOUIS, MO.
CONCERNING [Dukh-i-zhiznik] MOLOKAN DOCTRINES AND
RELIGIOUS PRACTICES FOR INCLUSION IN HIS
PROPOSED REVISION OF A BOOK
"THE RELIGIOUS BODIES OF AMERICA"
REPLIES BY JOHN K. BEROKOFF
AS AUTHORIZED BY [Dukh-i-zhiznik] MOLOKAN ELDERS
AT A MEETING ON NOVEMBER 1966
Lutheran - Founded 1839
801 De Mun Aye., St. Louis 5, MO.
5 November 1966
Dear Mr. Berokoff:
The Reverend Harold J. Sherk of the National Service Board for Religious Objectors referred me to Mr. John Slevin for information about the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Advisory Council. In reply to my letter he in turn referred me to you.
The occasion for my interest is that I have been asked by Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, to prepare a new and completely revised edition of the late Frederick E. Mayer's "The Religious Bodies of America".
I should like to make the new edition of this reference work as complete, as accurate, and as authoritative as possible. For that reason I write to ask you for such information as you can give me on the doctrinal basis, the history, the worship, the distinctive practices, the geographic distribution, and the overall membership of the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Advisory Council.
If there are any books, pamphlets, or magazine articles that provide this information, I should be grateful if you would give me the titles and tell me where I can obtain copies and, if you have this information, what they cost.
I look forward to early word
from you. For your convenience I enclose an airmail
reply envelope that requires no postage.
St. Louis, Mo.
Dear Mr. Piepkorn:
I have your letter of Nov. 5th in which you request information concerning the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Advisory Council. I presume that actually you are seeking information about the Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian Jumpers rather than the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Advisory Council because the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Advisory Council by itself is not a religious entity. It was only an arm of the Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian Jumpers. It was organized by the parent body in 1940 to counsel and assist young [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans in their problems as conscientious objectors during the Second World War and the Korean War.
The [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Advisory Council was affiliated during that period with the National Service Board for Religious Objectors but shortly afterwards, due to slow-downs in the draft calls, it ceased to exist. However, we continue to cooperate with that body on an informal basis because, like other members of that organization, we too are known and recognized as a historic peace church, therefore we sympathize with their work and avail ourselves of their service from time to time.
I am afraid that I could not supply you with detailed information on our history in this letter. For that data I would refer you to the Encyclopedia Britannica 1913 edition. [PAGE 195] See the article on "Molokans." You might also consult F. C. Conybeare's "Russian Dissenters" [page 289] published by the Cambridge Press in 1921.
It is also difficult to do justice in a letter to our doctrine and form of worship. We have recently published an English translation of some of the works of our founders. The title is "Selections from the Book of Spirit and Life."* There you will find some, although not complete but authoritative explanations of our doctrines and form of worship. It could be purchased through the writer at $5.00 per copy plus postage. But if you would prefer, I could mail you some excerpts from that book at no cost. [* Only the Dukh-i-zhiznik family of religions use "The Book of Spirit and Life" during worship.]
At this time I will limit myself to the following remarks: A non-[Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan visiting our [meeting] church services would probably say that our form of worship is unsophisticated or even primitive because we try to adhere strictly to the form prescribed by the founders of our denomination who were, for the most part, peasants, artisans and small merchants in Russia.
Our church interiors are entirely bare. The only furniture is a table covered by a white table cloth on which are placed an opened Bible, the New Testament, our prayer book and a book of spiritual writings of our founders called "The Book of Spirit and Life".
The table is surrounded on four sides by plain benches. Those benches on three sides that are immediately next to the table are occupied by leading elders. Towards one side of the table the first three or four benches are occupied by the male chorus while the opposite side on the first bench sit the prophets. The benches in back of these are occupied by the younger members and children.
Our regular church service begins with everyone sitting, and, while the congregation is assembling, we sing psalms and other passages from the scriptures and from the Book of Spirit and Life. In between the songs our elders read and preach from the scriptures and deliver homilies.
After about an hour of this, at a signal from the presbyter, the benches are removed and the prayer service begins. This consists in singing an appropriate song while everyone approaches by turns and places an offering on the table. Following this the presbyter leads in prayers while the congregation is all kneeling.
About four prayers are recited when everyone rises. At this time we perform the ceremony of the holy kiss which we call the communion. Everyone beginning with the assistant presbyter, kisses the presbyter and stands alongside of him followed by others who kiss the presbyter and others standing in the line. This is followed by everyone until the whole congregation, old and young, male and female, participates in the holy kiss. This is done while the chorus is singing an appropriate song such as the last five verses of Romans 8, 35: "who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" etc.
After this ceremony another prayer is recited with all kneeling following which the chorus sings several joyful spiritual songs. But we consider that the service has not reached its fullness unless there is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit which activates and moves at least some of the members in joyful spiritual jumping.
I believe that this answers your request for the form of worship and distinctive practices. In addition to this our men wear beards and are required to wear a distinctive shirt at church services. This is a long shirt resembling a smock worn outside the trousers belt and girt with a thin tasseled cord. The women too are required to wear a distinctive dress and to cover their hair with a shawl.
Our doctrines in brief are similar in many respects with other protestant denominations. We believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ. We believe that He was born of the virgin Mary, that He died for our sins and arose on the third day, ascended to heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father. We believe that He will return again to judge the quick and the dead and will reign with His chosen ones for a thousand years on earth. We believe in praying and conducting services for the dead and adhere strictly to the Mosaic dietary laws and we believe in the sanctity of the marriage vows.
As for the geographical distribution, originally we are from the southern part of Russia. Before the Communist revolution the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans were very numerous in that area, perhaps over a hundred thousands but no one knew for certain as our ancestors were strict in their belief against taking of census. There are many of our people there even now although the Soviets managed to lessen their number considerably by one means or another.
In the United States, to which our fathers brought us in the year 1904-1912, there are now approximately 12 to 15,000 of our denominations. The largest majority are located in the metropolitan area of Los Angeles. About 50 families reside in San Diego county, perhaps 50 families around the San Francisco area [are Molokane] and a large number [of Dukh-i-zhizniki] are [PAGE 198] in farming communities in The San Joaquin valley. A small group of 30 or 40 families around Salem, Ore. and a similar number near Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to these a small group of our people recently emigrated to Australia and are living there, some in the Perth area and some near Adelaide.
We appreciate your efforts in compiling accurate presentation of our denomination.
John K. Berokoff
[Addenda XXIV missing]
Lutheran - Founded 1839
801 De Mun Ave., St. Louis, Mo. 63105
22 November 1966
Mr. John Berokoff
Dear Mr. Berokoff:
Thank you very much for your prompt, helpful, and detailed answer to my request for information about the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Advisory Council.
I enclose a cheek for $5.50 herewith to cover the cost of one copy of "The Book of Spirit and Life, plus postage.
You will, I trust, pardon me if I ask some additional questions, particularly if in my ignorance I ask one or the other question in the wrong way.
[PAGE 199] In your letter you state that at your services there are on the table an opened Bible, The New Testament, your prayer book, and "The Book of Spirit and Life." I take it that there are four books on the table. Is this correct? Is only the Russian edition of "The Book of Spirit and Life" placed on the table, or may the English edition that you are sending to me be substituted? Is there an English edition of your prayer book available? If so, what is the price? If not, can you give me (in Russian, if you prefer, which I am able to read, although with some difficulty) the full title of your prayer-book, the place where if was published, the publisher or printer, and the year of the current edition?
I take it that there are still members of your [faiths] church body in the Soviet Union. Have you received many new members by immigration in recent years? Have many of your people immigrated back to the Soviet Union since the November Revolution? (I ask this question because about ten years ago some 2,500 members of another group of Russian dissenters, the Doukhobors of Canada, did return, to the Soviet Union.) [Error: About 1956, Sons of Freedom, not Doukhobors, protested forced jail schooling of their children. Before and after that, Sons of Freedom protested that their communal land agreement was broken, and for not being allowed to migrate back to Russia. After that, a few USCC Doukhobors explored a migration, but did not accept the Russian land offer.]
This leads me to ask another question. Do all the members of your church-body belong to the same group, or are they divided into different movements? (Here again the question is prompted by the fact there are [two branches] three kinds of Doukhobors [in Canada], the Conservative or Orthodox Doukhobors, the Independent Doukhobors, and [a group that separated from Doukhobors in 1901 who were later labeled] the Sons of Freedom.) From a German source I have information that several groups withdrew from the main body of Molokane in the Soviet Union and persisted at least until 1959 — the "Gemeinsamen" (as my source calls them), the New Molokane (who ultimately joined the Gospel [Evangelical] Christians, and the Subbotniki. Are any of these groups represented in the United States or Canada?
[PAGE 200] In your letter you refer to the presbyter. Do you have any persons who exercise oversight over the presbyters, that is, persons who would be comparable to bishops, superintendent, or (as among us Lutherans) district presidents with responsibility for a state or the major part of a state?
About how many churches or groups presided over by a presbyter are there in your denomination in The United States and Canada?
Do you use Russian exclusively in your services or is English also used?
What is the official title of your church-body in Russian?
Do you receive many members through conversion from other church-bodies or from a status of no church-membership at all? Do you lose many members to other church-bodies or to unbelief? Over the period since World War II would you say that your church-body has grown or declined in size? What in your opinion are ifs prospects for the future?
I am sure that some of my questions are answered in "The Book of Spirit and Life." If they are, please do not put yourself to the trouble of answering them in a letter. Again, if you regard any of these questions as improper, please feel free to disregard them.
After I receive "The Book of Spirit and Life" I may have a few more questions, and I hope that you will let me put them to you.
I do have one question that
does not pertain to the Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Jumpers,
but in which you might be able to be some help to me. As
I have indicated, I know about your church-body and
about the Doukhobors. Otherwise I know of no
church-bodies of Russian origin (except, of course, the
three Russian [PAGE
bodies and the colonies of "German-Russian" Lutherans)
in the United States and Canada. Do you by chance know
of any other bodies of Russian religious dissenters who
have transplanted their church-life to this country or
Canada (such as, possibly, the [Starovery] Popovcy, [Starovery] Bezpopovcy,
Pornorzy, Imjaslacvy, Nozdychency, Liudi Bozii [Luidi Bozhe, Khlysty], the New
Israelites that followed Vasilij Lubkov, Skopcy, the
Osnoynoe zveno Christa, or Jenochovey)?
[Addenda XXVI missing]
Los Angeles, Calif
November 29, 1966
Dear Mr. Piepkorn.
Herewith are answers to your inquiries concerning the Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Jumpers. I will answer them in your chronological order.
I. It is true that there are
four opened books on the table as I wrote you and only
the Russian version of the Book of Spirit and Life is
allowed on the table [as our 3rd Testament to the Bible]. An
English translation of the Prayer Book is included in
the "Selections from the Book of Spirit and Life" a copy
of which I am mailing you under a separate cover. If,
however, you prefer to have the Russian version of the
Prayer Book, it could be purchased from the publisher,
Mr. Paul Samarin, 944 Orme Ave; Los Angeles, Calif.
90023. I do not know [PAGE 202] its
present price but I am sure that it is not over $2.00.
It was last published in 1959. Its title in Russian is
The other Services in the Prayer Book, marriages, baptismal and funeral are followed to the letter in all churches in the United States except the [Molokane] Postoyannaye.
2. There are still many of our people in The Soviet Union although their freedom is curtailed to a great extent. None of them have immigrated to the United States since the revolution, likewise, none of us had returned there since then and very few have the desire to do so.
I believe that your information concerning the 2,500 Doukhobors returning is incorrect. There had been negotiations to that end but I am sure no such large group had returned although some individuals might have done so. You might cheek with a friend of mine, a well known Doukhobor, Mr. Peter N. Maloff, Thrums, B.C., Canada.
3. With the exception of a small group of 75-100 families in San Francisco who are [Spiritual Christian Molokane] of the Postoyannaye [PAGE 203] branch of Molokany, all of the various groups in Arizona, California and Oregon belong to the Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Jumpers. In all of these some minor doctrinal differences could be found [and several] but no outright divisions. A member of one congregation could and does freely move from one congregation as is convenient for him. As for "The New Molokane" group in the Soviet Union, we have none here, in fact, we have never heard of them. [Some may have immigrated as Stundist-Presbyterians to Los Angeles, and quickly assimilated. This further shows that Berekoff had no contact with Molokane and limited knowledge of their history.]
4. There are no bishops etc. in our denomination. Each individual congregation is entirely independent and is free to select its own presbyter and elders as it deems necessary. Whenever a problem arises that concerns The entire brotherhood, a meeting of presbyters and elders is called upon the initiative of one or another presbyter and an endeavor is made to arrive at a common understanding. Of course it is natural, as in any other group that the word of some elder carries more weight than others.
5. There are at present 15 [congregations]
presided over by a presbyters in California, Arizona and
Oregon. There are none in Canada. [By 1966, the Mexico Prygun
quit regular meetings.]
6. The Russian language is used exclusively in all services except in the Sunday schools and in the young people's meetings. These are conducted in both languages.
7. The title of our church body in Russian is: Dukhovnaye Christiani Pryguny. [dukhovnye khristiane-pryguny, духовные христиане-прыгуны. — This is the only line in Berokoff's 208-page book that actually identifies his original Russian religion, which after 1928 in America became the Dukh-i-zhiznik family of faiths. Why was name of their faiths mistranslated to the government as Molokan? Was this done on purpose, a mistake, or from ignorance?]
8. During our 60 years in the
United States only a very few members were accepted from
bodies or from non-church individuals. These
were accepted primarily through marriages with other
members. This is mainly [PAGE 204] due
to the fact that our services are conducted in Russian
which, as you know, is not the easiest language to learn
[, Makismisty are
instructed all other faiths are false, and dominant
are often racist and prejudiced].
9. I hesitate to express an opinion about our future prospects. The majority of our people believe that the power and authority of the Antichrist is already visible. This belief is based on the book of Revelations as expounded in the Book of Spirit and Life. It is believed that that power will assert itself more and more in the future, therefore, the future of all church bodies, including our own, will depend to a large extent on how well we will be able to stand up against his authority.
The present world-wide trend towards indifference to religion has affected us no less than others. The general euphoria created by the extraordinary prosperity has brought about a complacency that is disturbing, and since it is well known that adversity tends to bring a person to God and to the church, it is possible that a sudden reversal in material prosperity might bring about a change in the people's concern for their souls.
10. Do we lose any members to of her denominations? Yes. The Jehovah Witnesses and the Pentecostal groups have made some inroads into our membership but since World War II our membership has grown because of the "population explosion". [Most of the growth was due to the revitalization at the U.M.C.A. from 1940 up to the time this book was published, which enhanced Sunday meeting attendance.]
11. As for other Russian Dissenters, I know of only one minute group that has recently immigrated to the U.S. from China via Brazil. They are settled in a farming community in Woodburn, Ore. about 35 miles from Portland. They are of the Old Believers or Starovery faith but whether they are of the Popovfsy, Bezpopovfsy or Whatever, I do not know. You might write to a friend of mine who is [PAGE 205] their neighbor and who knows them very well, in fact he and others of our faith sponsored their immigration to the U.S. His address is: Efim Podgornoff, Rt. 1, Box 33, Gervais, Ore. [The Starovery in Woodburn, Oregon, are of both major branches, but divided into 3 churches in one neighborhood.]
12. The latest information
available here is that the New
Israelites who followed Lubkoff to [San
Uruguay no longer exists as a religious body. To all
appearances they have become assimilated in the local
arrival, Lubkov announced Uruguay is their promised
land, to assimilate and intermarry. Sunday meetings
and holiday services were held into the 2000s though
the hall has been converted to a museum.]
If I could be of any further assistance do not hesitate to write.
John K. Berokoff
[Addenda XXVIII missing]
801 De Mun Ave., St. Louis, MO. 63105
27 December 1966
Dear Mr. Berokoff:
Two weeks of active duty for training in the Office of the Chief of Chaplains, Department of the Army, at Washington have put me that much behind with my correspondence.
Thank you very much for your helpful response to my request for assistance in revising the late Frederick Emanuel Mayer's "The Religious Bodies of America."
[PAGE 206] The information you have given me is exactly of the kind for which I was looking. Can you (a) summarize briefly for me the differences between the [Spiritual Christian Molokane] Postoyannaye branch of The Molokany and the main body that you represent [Spiritual Christian Dukh-i-zhizniki] and (b) give me the name and address of some leader of the [Molokan] Postoyannaye group in San Francisco?
As the actual rewriting
of the book proceeds, I hope that I may turn to you
again for such help as I may need.
Los Angeles, Calif.Mr. Arthur C. Piepkorn,
337 S. State St.
January 4, 1966
St. Louis, MO.
Dear Mr. Piepkorn.
I have your letter of Dec. 27 in which you ask me to summarize the differences between the [Molokane] Postoyanaye and the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Spiritual Jumpers. [After 1928, Pryguny in Southern California and Arizona converted to Dukh-i-zhizniki].
As you no doubt know from your researches both groups were members of one large body who were commonly called Molokany but who called themselves the Spiritual Christians.
In the 1830's there was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit among them, moving many of them to prophesy, to speak in tongues and to joyful jumping during church services. This manifestation was accepted by many as [PAGE 207] divinely inspired but rejected by the majority as having no value in the services.
Naturally they soon split up
into two different bodies; those who rejected* the new
Molokane,] called themselves "Postoyannaye"
meaning "Constant" and those who accepted it added the
designation "Pryguny" [Russian: Jumpers]
to the name "Spiritual Christians".
[* This is a myth according to presbyter T.A. Razvaliaeff, San Francisco. He said that Molokane did not reject the Holy Spirit, rather they did not participate in the zealous behavior characteristic of Pryguny — jumping, skipping, dancing, attacking Orthodox churches, spiritual births, treks to Mt. Ararat to meet Christ and Rudomyotkin, etc. The Molokane retained their original faith they called "Spiritual Christian Molokan." The zealous split into a new faith called "Spiritual Christian Pryguny." The Russian government and Russian Orthodox Church tagged 2 different faiths: Molokane and Pryguny. Many from other sects joined each. Those from other sects, like Liudi Bozhe (God's People) who worshiped with jumping, dancing, prophesy, etc., joined the Pryguny.]
In separating, both groups retained the same form of worship, the same prayers and sang the same psalms and other passages from the scriptures. However, the Pryguny began to compose and sing spiritual songs to more lively tunes than the psalms which the [Molokane] Postoyannaye rejected as not divinely inspired. [Songs Molokane sing which they may have borrowed from Pryguny are not used during the prayer service. Under the influence of Misei Volkoff, American Pryguny developed "the beat", a faster singing style in the US. See Molokan Heritage Collection, Volume VI: The Origins of [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan Singing by Dr. O'brien-Rothe.]
Both groups adhered to the original doctrine to worship no images or ikons or the virgin Mary and the saints neither the symbol of the cross [, as do all Russian Spiritual Chrisitans; like Subbotniki, Doukhobors, etc.]. Both interpret water baptism spiritually and both observe the Mosaic dietary laws and honor the same founders mentioned on pages 32 and 33 of my translated book, but the [American] Pryguny added others to this list who were leaders in the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] separation such as Rudametkin, David Yessayitch and others [and formed their new Dukh-i-zhiznik faiths].
Both groups originally observed the same holidays such as Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost and Ascension [when they were Molokane and Pryguny]. However, in the 1860's, upon the urging of Rudametkin from his prison confinement, the [Maksimisty] Pryguny [who followed Maksim Rudomyotkin] gave these up as inventions of the Ecumenical Councils and substituted in their stead the Passover, the Pentecost, the day of Trumpets, the day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles, but we attach a different significance to these holidays than The Israelites did. [For a simple detailed explanation, see : Taxonomy of 3 Spiritual Christian Groups ... .]
We [Dukh-i-zhizniki] commemorate the Lord's last supper on Passover night and feast the following 7 days in honor of His resurrection. We observe the Pentecost in honor of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the day of Trumpets in [PAGE 208] anticipation of the call to last judgments; the day of Atonement we observe by fasting 24 hours in anticipation of the great judgment day and we feast eight days during the Feast of Tabernacles in honor of the soon-coming Millennium. The [Molokane] Postoyannaye do not observe any of these except the Pentecost.
The [Molokane] Postoyannaye still hold to the old form of worship that I described to you in my first letter but occasionally nowadays they sing spiritual songs borrowed from [other faiths as did] the Pryguny [not during worship, but at weddings, funerals, etc.], and of course they rejected the new form of Rudametkin's ritual out of hand. [Both faiths borrowed the same songs from neighboring Germans in New Russia. When the songbook was first assembled in Los Angeles, the leaders assumed they were a "Brotherhood" and included many songs used by Molokane, like "Silent Night," so the Molokane would buy books. In the 1980s, the Orloff songbook (green) removed most all Molokan songs. Songbook updates after 1940 probably added no songs contributed by Molokane.]
At the present time there is considerable commingling between the two groups here in California. Visitors from either group are welcomed in either [meeting] church services and young people occasionally intermarry without hindrance. I do not know how it is in the Soviet Union. [By the 1970s Molokan elders were being ignored when they visited the Los Angeles UMCA picnic, and LA vs. SF sports games had ceased. By 2000 Molokane were recognized guests at fewer Dukh-i-zhiznik congregations, because those who invited them were often reprimanded by the most zealous members. When Dukh-i-zhiznik boys married Molokan girls, the girls were converted to the Dukh-i-zhiznik faith.]
I am not acquainted with any of the leaders in their group in San Francisco but the name and address of their presbyter is Mr. Timofey A. Razvaliaeff, 1094 De Haro St., San Francisco 24. [It's amazing that a Dukh-i-zhiznik who is describing Molokane, states that does not personally know them, and presents himself as "Molokan." Would he be credible if he presented himself as a Doukhobor, or Subbotnik? J.K. Berokoff was a very sincere man, but he censored many facts and just could not see the Russian Spiritual Christian "forest because of the trees."]
I hope that this summary will be helpful to you.