Religion Through the Lenses of the Secret Police

Due to the pandemic, the Galeria Centralis was forced to close its doors until further notice, but our colleagues are happy to announce that the exhibition Faith-Trust-Secrecy, which opened in February, is now available online!

This exhibition explores the ways in which Communist totalitarian states - through secret police operations - “captured” religion in images, graphics, texts, and folders in order to control and eliminate those they deemed untrustworthy.

Faith and trust are two of the central foundations of a religious community, but secrecy has also been a common feature of religions throughout history. The secret police, as their name suggests, depended on secrecy practices, whether real or simply performed, and as part of their undercover operations they sought to gain the trust of the communities they wished to infiltrate. Researchers of religion, both during Communism and today, also require the trust of the communities that they research and they practice their own forms of secrecy to protect the identity of research participants.

In this exhibition we present the complex interactions of the secret police with religious groups and those seeking to research them. Faith and trust, whether sustained or broken, as well as secrecy are interwoven in the images, narratives, and testimonies on display.

This exhibition forms part of a larger project funded by the European Research Council that explores the creativity of religious groups under totalitarian rule through the holdings of the secret police archives of four countries: Hungary, Romania, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.