About Keston Institute
Keston Institute, founded in 1969 under the title of Centre for the Study of Religion and Communism, has specialised in the study of all religions and all forms of religious expression in Communist and formerly Communist countries.
Its field of expertise has focussed particularly on the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. During the Communist period Keston was considered by the KGB to be one of the most dangerous anti-soviet organisations, from their point of view, in the West, although in fact Keston was a non-political organisation, which simply gathered the true facts about religion behind the Iron Curtain.
Founded originally by the Revd Canon Dr Michael Bourdeaux and Sir John Lawrence with the help of the distinguished academics Professor Leonard Schapiro and Professor Peter Reddaway, Keston Institute has always had an academic emphasis in addition to its public education role. The creation and development of an archive to support the study of religion in Communist and formerly Communist countries has always been a core aim of Keston Institute, whose reputation for reliability was based on careful research and verification of information through primary sources. The archive was composed originally of samizdat and research materials collected by the founder, Canon Michael Bourdeaux, but over the years it has grown extensively and now represents a unique collection. The archive contains information nowhere else available on an important aspect of 20th century history, namely the history of religion during the Communist period. Furthermore, the archive is complemented by a library of over 8,000 books and 200 periodicals, which have also been built up since Keston Institute's foundation.
The Articles of Association of Keston Institute define Keston's objectives as follows:
- A. To promote the advancement of education in religion, the history of religion, including religious beliefs, and practices in furtherance of the above objects and ancillary thereto: (that clause relates to the fact that Keston is a religious charity)
- B. To promote and encourage the study of and research into religion, religious beliefs and religious practices in Communist States, or States which have been Communist or present or former Totalitarian States (whether in Europe, Asia or elsewhere) and the relationship between organised religion and the State in such States and the relationship between different religions and between religion, the ideologies of Marxism, humanism and other ideologies and the relation between religion, national cultures and national life in such states the result of such research to be disseminated.
- C. To establish at any educational establishment within the United Kingdom a centre for the Study of Religion and Communism in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and any other state which the Council of Management shall, at its absolute discretion, think fit.