Methods and Forms of Molding the New Man in the Soviet School
(From the March, 1984 Conference of Republic Educators and Directors of Atheist Work in Vilnius)
Lector J. Sakalauskas of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania briefly described for those gathered the religious situation in Lithuania, emphasizing that in the contemporary world, religion is becoming politicized, and politics are taking on a religious coloring. The Church has moved heaven from the cosmos to the human heart. It has become more active.
During the summer of 1983, the Vatican began broadcasting in the Uzbek, Tirghiz and Tadzhik languages. In 1983, four Byelorussian and Ukrainian young men enrolled in the Kaunas Theological Seminary. March 4, 1984, on the Jubilee of Saint Casimir, the Pope in his greetings said, "I greet all those gathered here, their families and especially those struggling for the Faith in Lithuania..." He did not greet ordinary believers, but only extremists and fighters reported Lector Sakalauskas.
The lector recalled the Pastor of Adutiškis, Bronius Laurinavičius, who he said had become distracted and walked in front of a car, thereby stirring up much unnecessary trouble when, at the same time, several persons a day die in automobile accidents and no one bothers about that.
The lector explained that in 1983, the leaders of all the Lithuanian dioceses, the heads of the Orthodox, Old Believers and Lutherans in Lithuania and the Rector of the Kaunas Seminary, the Reverend Viktoras Butkus, had been summoned to Vilnius. After the lecture, the bishops had been urged to appeal to the public in writing to struggle for peace. They were reminded of 1947, when the bishops of Lithuania were ordered to call on the public for the bandits (partisans — Ed. Note) to come out of the forest, but the bishops wrote nothing...
So in 1983, the bishops were shown a draft in which people were urged by action and prayer to contribute to peace, but they struck the words, "to contribute to the policy of the Soviet Union".
Sakalauskas affirmed that the Reverend Alfonsas Svarinskas, asked why he condemns the journeys of Professor Viktoras Butkus to peace conferences, replied, "Such a peace is necessary for the atheists, and not for the faithful."
One other practical point: priests' sermons. Throughout Lithuania members of Committees to Monitor Cult listen to sermons and submit them to the rayon or city Councils on Atheism. For example, in one city in the Tauragė Rayon, a priest said in his sermon that in the army, no one had asked him whether he wanted a belt with the Star on the buckle, or whether he wanted a buckle with the Cross. "That, Comrades, is an anti-Soviet sermon!" explained Lector Sakalauskas.
"Today, the problem of pupils' organizations is coming to the fore," the lector continued. "Don't drag church mice into the Pioneers and Communist Youth League, but try to change their world view. In the first place, all this depends on whether all educators have a strong materialistic world view, and philosophic culture. Not long ago, two retired teachers were heading illegal convents; teachers go to other rayons to hear Mass — what kind of world view do we have?" the lector asked those assembled.
"We would like to touch also on the subject of convents. There are more convents in Lithuania today than there were when they were legal. What is the reason for the growth of convents? First of all, because we are unable to provide living quarters for nurses and kindergarten teachers and they constitute a majority of women religious.
"We pay too little attention to the lonely individual at work, and in organizations. If 1982 was proclaimed as The Year of Goodness, this means that the Church has made it it's own with a general humanist embrace, while we still have far to go..."
Chief Instructor, J. Stankaitis, of the Vilnius Polytechnic Institute, spoke of the most effective method of atheistic activity, individual work with schoolchildren. Individual work is customized work, taking into account people's idiosyncracies and their world view. In every school, it is necessary to establish an integrated and individualized system of atheistic education.
To overcome the psychological barrier between the teacher on the one hand and the pupil and his parents on the other, the teacher's attitude toward the believer must be friendly and not insulting.
It is necessary to be well acquainted with the pupil, his inclinations, goals, that which attracts him, saddens him and makes him happy.
An important method of passive observation is the diplomatic method of discussion, so that the pupil would not even sense any provocation, and would open up without knowing it. One can raise some innocent questions: Which holidays do you like best? What do your mother, father or grandmother teach you most? Does your family like it when you tell them about school activities? What do you do on Sundays, or in your leisure time?
Another method is the visitation of religious families. During the visit, watch to see whether during Lent or Advent they listen to music in the family, which member of the family can be depended on for the atheistic education of the child (most often, the father or an older brother), whether there is any religious literature in the home, whether the priest visits frequently and who in the family is the most religious.
Foster the child s inclination to culture, sports, films, shows, etc. Teach boys to dance and to see that they attend parties regularly.
See that the parents take a neutral stance, that at least they would not urge children to go to church and carry out religious ceremonies; that they would leave and entrust the rearing of the children to the school.
Call on the assistance of the Parents Committee, the District Chairperson, the militia representative and others to have public opinion condemn fanatics. Moreover, parents can be punished for not developing creators of an informed atheistic society.
In planning atheistic affairs, involve as many pupils as possible in the scenario of the event. Atheistic action must be organized in the micrormjon and local village. It is worthwhile accepting into the House of Culture Choir the believer who sings in the church choir. Let him or her keep a foot in both and after a while, there will be no time to go to church.
Atheistic lectures must be organized in cycles; e.g., during 1983 - 84, a series of lectures about the introduction of Christianity into Lithuania should be carried out with ninth graders. By the time they finish Middle School, they will have formed strong ideological attitudes.
Organize atheistic lectures with interesting titles, so as not to frighten away believers but attract them and interest them. Stankaitis explained to the directors of atheistic activity who had gathered.
Commissioner for Beligious Affairs Petras Anilionis, characterizing the religious situation in Lithuania, explained, "It is not permitted to enter into a student's record whether he is a believer or not," but a clever teacher can make an entry about a student's world view, since the school (especially an institution of higher learning) must know the prospective student's beliefs.
On November 19, 1984, students of Class Ilia at Molėtai Middle School I: Gita Guobytė, Asta Stalnionytė, Vaiva Mildažytė, Alvydas Maigys, Vaidas Venclovas, Rimantas Paškevičius and Rimvydas Ve-rikas were summoned to see the school principal, Jakštas. Waiting for them in the office was a militiaman. The interrogation began. The school children were grilled about this year's First Communion: Who received it? Who had prepared the children for First Communion? Who oversaw them? Where did they go to school? After the interrogation, all the children had to sign.
On December 24, 1984, Miss Irena Griškevičiūtė, Mistress of Manufacturing Education for Group 17 of Professional-Technical School No. 54 of the City of Alytus, bringing in a list of the group, demanded that the pupils state in writing that on Christinas, December 25, all of them would be in class.
Padubysis (Kelmė Rayon)
On December 28, 1984, Rasa-Genovaitė Pilikauskaitė, the seven-year-old daughter of the Pinkauskas family of Padubysis, died. Her parents, in accord with their beliefs, decided to inter their daughter with religious ceremonies. Learning of this, Chairman Kerbedis of the communal farm tried to convince the Pinkauskas' to rescind their decision and bury their daughter without the Church; otherwise, he threatened not to allow the schoolchildren to attend the funeral.
The children gathered in the Čekanavičius yard, from where they prepared to go to little Rasa's wake. Communal Farm Chairman Kerbedis, Middle School Teacher Mrs. Varkelienė and two other teachers shooed the children away, and would not allow them to go to the funeral without their parents. The chairman and the aforesaid teachers visited the children's parents and tried to convince them not to allow their children to go to the funeral, threatening to lower their their conduct and their scholastic marks. In spite of all the threats, the funeral took place with religious ceremonies, and quite a few school children attended, some of them attired in folk-dress.
The Pastor, Father Feliksas Baliunas, delivered a thoughtful sermon, and accompanied the funeral to the local cemetery.