If its an atheist empire like the soviet union, should you conform to the laws of such a ruthless military dictatorship?
First of all, the soviet Union wasn't an atheist empire. As I stated earlier in another thread, the antireligion stance had more to do with the fact that the Russian Orthodox religion was a major power and land owner in the Soviet Union and closely tied to the Czar. It was a natural target. Certain groups that had been perscuted under Czarist leadership, like the Jews and Muslims, were more tolerated under the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union was brutal, but that first in retaliation for Czarist atrocities and then for Nazi atrocities. And yes, it was easier to comply than fight. The East German government was brutal because the Russians had lost millions of lives in WW2 fighting them. Stalin was a monster, no doubt. Any totalitarian regime is. Better to lay low than die in a Siberian Gulag.