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.
Membership of Keston Institute
- The Keston Institute is governed by its membership which both elects its Council of Management, members of which also serve as Trustees, and takes final decisions on matters of policy.
- The membership is greatly valued for the support it affords to the Institute in its vital work as set out in the Institute's aims.
- Membership is open to all those who declare their sympathy with the aims of the institute and pay either an annual or a life subscription.
- Membership qualifies those concerned to attend and to vote at the Institute's Annual General Meeting and to receive a copy of the Keston Newsletter biannually.
- The current subscriptions for membership are:
Full-time Student Membership: £5 per annum
Ordinary Membership: A minimum of £25 per annum
Corporate Membership: A minimum of £35 per annum
Individual Life Membership: Life membership shall be granted to any individual who has made a donation of £400 or more in any one year, or £1000 or more over a period of five years
Corporate Life Membership for ten years shall be granted to any corporate body (including a place of worship) which has made a donation of £1000 or more over a period of five years.
Life membership shall be granted to anyone notifying the Chairman of the Council of their intention to make a legacy to Keston Institute.
Subscriptions should be sent to:
PO Box 712
York YO1 0GX
Keston’s Archive and Library are now housed in the Keston Center for Religion Politics and Society at Baylor University, Texas.