From Religious Culture: Faith in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia, by Jerry Pankhurst, in Russian Culture, 2012.
The atheistic socialization agenda included a wide
range of positive incentives. Proper behavior and attitudes were
reenforced by legitimate authority and thus carried a positive emotional
charge. Atheistic socialization had as its ultimate goal what Soviet writers
called "a scientific atheistic worldview," which included the following
(1) Strong scientific training awaited all students, starting from the
earliest grades. Science was always taught as the indubitable and entirely
sufficient way of understanding the world that left no room for alternative
orientations. All other perspectives, most notably religion, were said to be
incompatible with science and distorting of reality.
(2) A special emphasis was placed on the notion that humans make their
own futures. There were no supernatural forces or divine entities which
had any relation to the world. In Marxian terms, science was the surest
basis for building the future because it recognized the true nature of the
(3) Atheistic socialization required teaching about the history of
freethought and atheism, as well as about "religious obscurantism" that
undermined the progress of science.
(4) Atheism had to have its "positive heroes" -- Charles Darwin, Galileo,
Copernicus, and others. The abundant literature on such characters served
an important socialization goal of creating "reference idols" to encourage
the youth in particular to emulate atheistic values. 
(5) Movies and newspapers, television and radio, literature and painting --
all forms of mass culture had to be upgraded in content, so as to woo the
population away from religious spectacles. For instance, during the Easter
holidays the state would show especially popular programs on TV and
keep movie theaters open into the late hours to keep the populace from
attending all night Easter services.
(6) Atheist propaganda was carried out by a sprawling set of agencies and
organizations, such as the Museum of Religion and Atheism and
Knowledge Society,  which printed pamphlets and books, offered
public lectures and presentations.
Through all these socializing institutions and practices the authorities sought to provide models of atheist behavior and attitudes for average
Soviet citizens, to turn them into "good atheists" intolerant of religioznoe
mrakobesie (religious obscurantism). But the same outcomes could be,
and sometimes had to be, accomplished through other means, like
punishments and costs inflicted on the believers to discourage them from
practicing proscribed behavior.
Social Control Imperatives.
Soviet believers who evaded the socialization
efforts mounted by the state had to bear excessive costs for their religious
activities. The state did everything it could to "overcome" religion
peaceably, to make it "wither away," but when its "constructive" efforts
failed, it was ready to deploy a vast array of social control devices to
stamp out religious customs.
Here are some of the more important social
control venues favored by the Soviet state:
(1) Forbidding formal religious education for children, that is, any group
classes, Sunday schools, etc.
(2) Hindering the participation of children in religious activities by
pressuring and intimidating clergy, parents, and children themselves
(usually in school).
(3) Controlling baptism rites, i.e., requiring a formal "registration" and a
"permit" for a baptism ceremony.
(4) Ridiculing or criticizing believers in the public press.
(5) Intentionally and actively seeking out believers and attempting to "reeducate"
them. School teachers played a particularly important role in this
regard, as did Pioneer and Komsomol cadres, Party and trade union
activists at the workplace. Adults could also be force into one-on-one
sessions with atheist activists.
(6) Publishing and disseminating antireligious propaganda through
literature, lectures, newspaper articles, radio, and television programs.
The Knowledge Society has to be singled out here for its relentless efforts
on behalf of "scientific atheism," though the trade unions, party cells,
atheist clubs, and antireligious museums did not lag far behind.
(7) Manipulating religious leaders so as to limit their personal influence
and ability to organize and disseminate religious influence.
(8) Limiting the prospects for appointment and job advancement for
religious believers. Since most high level positions required party
membership, believers were naturally excluded from advancement to such
levels. In some cases, believers were denied routine pay increases and
promotions because of their "backward views." Though this was not
universal practice, it encouraged believers to be less visibly active
religiously or hide their faith altogether, and it intimidated those who were
not active from becoming so.
In these and perhaps other ways, the Soviet state barred children from
sympathetic exposure to religion and punished those who defied the state
and sought to exercise their nominal constitutional rights. Needless to say,
children who passed through this elaborate system of antireligious
propaganda were less likely to become religious adults, while those who
persisted in their religious beliefs and practices could expect their life options to be severely curtailed by the state.