It was not so long ago that our nation was being physically destroyed. Tens of thousands of people were packed into cattle-cars, hauled off to the farthest corners of the Russian Empire and starved and frozen to death in the steppes of Khazakstan, the Siberian tiaga and on the shores of an icy sea. Others were suffocated in prisons and countless camps of the Gulag, and finally, how many of our fellow countrymen lie murdered in their native land. Just let us recall the shooting of people and destruction of entire villages on the banks of the Nemunas, north of Merkinė, during the winter of 1944.
The occupants' rampaging in Lithuania is quite similar to the German conquerors' conduct in defeated Poland, 1939-1944. The only difference is that the deeds of the latter are held up to public view and condemned while an effort is being made to sink the crimes of the Russian executioner quietly into oblivion.
But the worst of it is that the genocide continues, only now by other means, in other ways. The evil intentions or goals have not changed, only the methods. The nation goes on being killed, this time not by deportations but with induced moral rot and the supression of self-identity. Communist "morality" imported and foisted on the nation is insinuating itself more and more into interpersonal relations. Self-perception is more and more being poisoned by distrust, suspicion, grovelling and venality, while moral decay, careerism and corruption continue to spread. And how much distrust, irresponsibility, theft, graft and bureaucracy there is: more and more, man is preying on man.
Such is the reality of Communist ethics which only perblind fanatics can fail to see or acknowledge!
As though that were not enough, today there are designs on the future of the entire nation. They would like to take away the children, the coming generation, those who were spared abortion, those whom the parents are rearing. It appears that, "Children are not the parents' property. They are future citizens of a socialist society." (cit. ref. Soviet Teachei Tarybinės mokytojas, August or September 20, 1986, No. 66, in the article "The Lessons of Hypocrisy".) In other words, you produce a child, rear him and worry about him, but you do not have many rights to him. He is the property of the socialist society, "nationalized", "socialized", confiscated, taken over.
According to Communist ethics, this is logical. It was not the Communists who gave the peasants their land, they had it for ages. The Communists only took away land. It was not the Communists who erected and adorned churches, they only seized them. It was not the Communists who established various organizations and societies, published newspapers, books and journals in Lithuania, they only destroyed, forbade and confiscated everything. What is left? To take away children from parents. They are members of the socialist society, they are the property of the Communist state! Just as of old, in the days of slavery, the child of a slave family was the property not of the parents but of the slave owner.
Today, the owner of the Soviet citizen is the state, the Communist Party, more accurately, its ruling summit. So the children of the Soviet citizen are also their property, and the parents must do with their children whatever this owner directs. And this is what he directs: 'In the Lithuanian SSR Public Education Law, besides the basic principles of public education, there is written in also the secularity of education, without the influence of religion: Under this law, parents and those who represent them, are among other things, the spirit of high Communist ethics."
The children are "morally" confiscated. They must be formed in accordance with these "ethics". They must become its exponents. They must become its proclaimers, practitioners and defenders. As such, they must be reared from infancy. This is similar to the way in which the Turks treated the children of conquered Christian nations when they would take them from the parents and rear them as fanatical Muslims, destined to war against their fellow countrymen. Now an attempt is being made to do something like that with our children, with the future of our nation, with our younger generation.
So where are all those Constitutional "guarantees", all that chatter about freedom of conscience? Where are all the declarations of human rights and the international agreements which Soviet rulers have signed so solemnly? And how to reconcile the statement "Under this law, parents and those who represent them, are among other things, obliged to rear children in the spirit of high Communist "ethics", with the words of Mrs. D. Gančierienė, Chairwoman of the Control Commission for Conformance to the Laws for Religious Cults of the Molėtai Rayon, attached to the Soviet Executive Committee of Lithuania, in the same article, 'In accord with the freedom of conscience guaranteed by the Constitution of the USSR, only the parents have the right at home to teach their own children prayers and catechism, and to prepare them for confession and First Communion"? Which statement in this article can one believe? They contradict one another! What the atheists call "religious freedom" is some terrible nonsense.
We reproduce here the article by Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Petras Anilionis:
When the School is Separated from the Church
The Commissions connected with city and rayon Executive Committees to monitor conformity with the laws of cults discover every year cases in which some Catholic priests or nunny women, by organizing religious education activities for minors, grossly violate Soviet law. For example, this year, the pastor of the religious association of Udrija, in the Rayon of Alytus, Vytautas In-soda, taught children religion in church behind closed doors. When members of the Commission demanded that he let them into the house of prayer, the pastor acted rudely, pushing his visitors out the door and insulting them.
In the parish church of Molėtai, behind locked doors, the associate pastor of that religious association, Father Juozas Kaminskas, and his assistant, Miss Stasė Rokaitė, taught more than seventy children collected even from neighboring rayons. The activities took place with the pastor of that church —and moreover Dean, Ignas Melašius— participating. Such is the example the pastor sets for a young priest!
Under the influence of the dissatisfaction expressed by these clergymen, the mothers of some of the children in church using unseemly language, began insulting Commission members. There were similar incidents in some other churches in the republic.
In their anger, these ministers of cult apparently forgot that, for insulting officials in the course of carrying out their duties, the Criminal Code of the Lithuanian SSR provides a penalty. Moreover, the organizers of systematic religious education activities, except for parents, are liable to punishment also under paragraph 143 of the LSSR Criminal Code.
Also they violated the requirements of Par. 50 of our basic law, the Constitution of the Lithuanian SSR, where it is stated, "The Church in the Lithuanian SSR is separated from the state, and the school from the Church."
In other words, the separation of the school from the Church must be understood as an injunction against the Church's interference in various ways in the education of children and youth, and the teaching of religious matters to children. Clergy, or ministers of cult, are not allowed to assume any kind of responsibilities in educational organs.
In Point 18 of the Regulations for Religious Associations, it is pointed out that the teaching of religion can be allowed only in spiritual schools opened in accordance with established procedure. Hence, young men attaining adulthood have the right according to their beliefs and making use of the freedom of conscience granted them by the Constitution, to enroll in spiritual schools. Presently in the Soviet Union, eighteen spiritual schools of various denominations are operating: six Orthodox academies and seminaries, two Catholic seminaries, a Muslim academy, a Judaic yeshiva, an Armenian church academy, a seminary of the Georgian Orthodox church, other spiritual schools and various courses for clergy.
In the Theological Seminary of Kaunas, presently there are over 130 seminarians studying. Every year, up to thirty young men are accepted for this spiritual school upon recommendation of the local pastor.
However, based on the Soviet Constitution, the Church is not allowed to interfere in the functions of public educational organs. Religious organizations are forbidden to organize work with children or minors, from organizing special meetings of children, youth, women or others, as well as organizing meetings or groups dealing with the bible, literature and handicrafts, as well as organizing trips, children's playgrounds, opening libraries or reading rooms. For organizing such meetings, circles or groups not having any connection with the carrying out of worship, offenders are liable to administrative penalties — punished by fine.
In Soviet laws for cults, it is also stated that teaching children and minors religious things is allowed only privately, that is, in the family, and only the parents are allowed to teach this in keeping with their beliefs, and only to their own children.
However, attempts are still frequently made to argue about thèse questions. Some clergy of the Catholic Church explain that parents allegedly have a weak grasp of religious truths, do not moreover know their prayers, and do not remember much of the Church's teaching. Hence, in their"opinion, it is necessary for ministers of cult to teach children religious things. However, listening to such "philosophy", the question arises whether parents who know nothing about religion and who, moreover, do not know their prayers, can be called believers, and where are their so-called religious convictions? Will such parents be able to answer for the results of their children's up-bringing when the children are taught by outsiders: clergy or nunny women?
And finally, will such parents be able to carry out and live according to Par. 64 of the Constitution, in which it is said that the citizens of Soviet Lithuania must be concerned about the education of their children, prepare them for work useful to society, and to rear them as honorable members of the Socialist society.
Thus, the basic law of our country, the Constitution, does not only confer upon the parents certain rights, but also imposes great obligations, especially rearing the young generation.
There are parents who, inspired by the Catholic Church, claim that we have no religious textbooks — catechisms; that they are old and worn and hence parents have nothing from which to teach their children religious matters. This is not so! The Liturgical Commission formed by the bishops of the Catholic Church has prepared a new, 127-page catechism, entitled The Light of Our Faith, and the Vaizdas Press published 60,000 copies of this publication in Vilnius in 1980. The catechism cost the Church only 22 kopeks per booklet.
After they had obtained the little religious textbook, new accusations started up that the edition of the little catechism was too small, that it is difficult for children to understand, etc. Quantities of the catechism published not only suffice to provide for all children preparing for First Confession and for teenagers being prepared for Confirmation, yet no small surplus remains. Besides, a catechism may be used for more than one year. In school, for instance, people study from the same textbooks for several years. Next year, 50,000 copies of a catechism will be published. Is that little in comparison with editions of other books published?
Sometimes, in organizing the group teaching of religion to children, an attempt is made to justify it on the basis of "parents' rights". Pney say 'It's my child, and I'll raise him as I wish." I would say that is an incorrect and very narrow understanding of parents' rights. Children are not the property of the parents. They are the future citizens of socialist society, and as such, they must be raised by the combined efforts of the school, the family and society.
In the Lithuanian SSR Education Law, among the basic principles of public education is written the secularism of teaching, without the influence of religion. By this law, parents and persons representing them are, among other things, obliged to educate children in the spirit of high Communist ethics. This every father and mother must realize deeply. In other words, religious training, even though carried on in the family, must not become a tool of coercion.
The rights and duties of our country's parents and guardians are regulated by certain norms supported by law. For example, in Par. 65 of the Soviet Lithuanian Code for Marriage and the
Family, we find indicated: 'Parents are obliged to rear their children, to concern themselves with their physical development and education, prepare them for work useful to society, and to rear them as respectable members of the socialist society."
In other words, Soviet law has not granted parents any rights. It is in this way that our laws differ from the laws of bourgeois states, where the child is under the unlimited authority of the parents. However, even those who speak quite reverentially about parents' rights sometimes forget that children also have rights.
Right after the October Revolution, N. Krupskaya spoke very accurately about the rights of parents and children. She wrote, "The school is separated from the Church not for reasons of logic, but in the name of children's rights. Among us, much is said about parental rights, but very little about children's rights. If it is universally accepted that the law must defend the helpless child from too much exploitation, not only from the factory owner but by the parents, then very little is said about the necessity of defending his soul from everything which works to the detriment of that soul."
Thus the Soviet state is interested in seeing that every little citizen, even in the family, be educated in accord with society's interests. Not by accident does it say in the foundations of public education law, "The law obliges parents to conform education in the family with education by the schools, preschool and postschool agencies and with the work of social organizations. This is why Soviet law considers any form of organized group religious training as Church interference in the affairs of the state as a violation of the law.
Moreover, Par. 19 of the Soviet Lithuanian Code for Marriage and the Family, delineating the rights of spouses states, "The spouses in a family have equal rights. The spouses decide together on the education of children and other questions of family life."
Hence, no minister of cult has any right without the consent of both parents to baptize their children, carry out First Confession or to confirm them. For, in the event of a dispute, the spouses or one of them can apply to the appropriate government organs and request that the guilty persons, including ministers of cult, who have violated Soviet law, be answerable.
So Soviet law, proclaiming and guaranteeing freedom of conscience, at the same time determines certain limits for the activity of religious organizations to which they must adhere. And those ministers of cult who transgress these limits as did, for instance, the priest mentioned in the beginning of the article, must be held accountable.
Petras Anilionis Lithuanian SSR Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs attached to the Council of Ministers of the USSR. (Peasants' Newspaper), October 16,1986