As for the communists, it would have been relatively easy to follow the thread of communist policy concerning religion between 1917 and 1988. The communists displayed great constancy and patience and could claim a considerable degree of destructive success. Party members' ideological fervor waned and atheist militancy diminished, probably even faster than overall ideological dedication. There are still a few of the godless around. Gorbachev was asked about his religious convictions during a joint television appearance with Yeltsin on September 5, 1991. He answered straightforwardly that he was still an atheist. The progressive decline in communist dedication is traceable through the pages of this book and in the reality of events. At a certain point, as the communists used to put it, cumulative, quantitative change became transforming, qualitative change. Even in the Soviet period there was a backhanded symbiotic relationship between church and state.