During a history lesson at the vocational school, [Mrs.] Morkūnienė, who was lecturing, noticed a chain around [Miss] Danutė Kruopaitė's neck, and demanded that the girl surrender it. Because the girl would not give it to her, the teacher herself took off the chain, which had a small religious medal attached. Someone in the lecture hall stated that [Miss] Genė Dovidonytė and [Miss] Viktorija Jurginaitė were also wearing medals. Rushing over to Dovidonytė, Morkūnienė ripped the chain off the girl's neck and kept it. When she saw that the girl had two more small medals, she demanded that the girl surrender them, and when the girl refused, the teacher grabbed her hand and took them away by force. Then, going to Jurginaitė, Morkūnienė ripped the chain from the girl's neck, but she did not succeed in taking away her medal. After the lecture, Morkūnienė chided the above-mentioned girls for wearing religious medals.
During another lesson Morkūnienė ordered Jurginaitė to answer questions. Barely had the girl begun answering when the teacher interrupted her, saying that she had begun incorrectly. Taking up a book the teacher read a beginning phrase and told the girl to relate the rest. When Jurginaitė explained that she did not have that particular book, the lecturer snapped at her, "If God loves you, He could have, plop, dropped that book from heaven for you." As the girl tried to continue her recitation, the teacher said, "God didn't come to your rescue—you get a grade of 2." It was plain to everyone in the lecture hall why their classmate had received the failing grade.
Dovidonytė asked Morkūnienė to return her medal, but the woman laughed: "It'll be a nice little trinket for the [atheistic] museum." Asked whether she would still wear a medal, the girl replied: "I've always worn one and will continue to do so. I'll buy another one and put it on."
Jurginaitė was summoned to the teachers' room, where they insisted that she surrender her medal. The girl was assailed by teachers [Mrs.] Griciūnienė and [Mrs.] Sablin-skienė, but they succeeded in obtaining only the chain without the medal.
The teachers decided to take this matter under advisement. Jurginaitė and Dovidonytė were made to leave the school.
One-half of the eleventh-class students of the secondary school in Miežiškiai were not members of the Young Communist League in 1972-73. When the new year began, the students of the graduating class were especially pressured to enroll in the League. They were often kept two to three hours after school and threatened that unless they joined the Young Communist League they would not be accepted into schools of higher education and would not be able to attain anything worthwhile in life. The most "diligent" were class leader [Mrs.] Kabliūnienė, League Secretary [Miss] Bučytė, and Šakalys, a teacher. The last-named once asked students to answer the question "What do you think of priests who have left the priesthood?" Almost all had answered that such priests were either foolish or lacked character.
The aftermath of such answers by the students was even greater persecution, but finding themselves incapable of influencing the students by force, the teachers began to try to persuade them to enroll in the Young Communist League. Students were told they could attend church elsewhere, not necessarily in Miežiškiai. Hoping to induce one eleventh-class student to join the League, the teachers promised to give him a very good characterization in his school records and said that he wouldn't even have to attend League meetings; however, when after joining the Young Communist League the student failed to attend one meeting, the school administrators confronted him and warned that if he would not attend the League meetings, he would be expelled from the League, and this would be noted in his characterization.
In May, 1973, [Mrs.] Kalačiovienė, secretary of the Panevėžys city Party Committee, visited the secondary school in Miežiškiai. She declared to the students who were not members of the Young Communist League: "We shall strive to see to it that during examinations nonmembers receive the worst possible grades and thus find it imposible to enroll in schools of higher education."
In October, 1972, during one of her classes, teacher [Mrs.] B. Gabrūnienė made the boys leave the room and ordered the girls to unbutton their uniform blouses and show her whether they were wearing crosses. Finding one girl with a cross, the teacher berated her and told the girl to never again show up in school wearing a cross.
On Palm Sunday, 1973, Party Secretary [Mrs.] Kalačiovienė checked on students atending the church in Miežiškiai and recorded the pastor's sermon.
The pastor's sermons were discussed at a secret meeting of the secondary school faculty on April 20. Although all the participants had been ordered to hold the contents of their deliberations in strict confidence, everyone learned soon after what had been discussed at the meeting. Kalačiovienė interrogated the teachers, trying to find out who had disclosed the subject of the secret meeting.
Some students were ordered to spy upon those students who were going to church on Easter. Several Panevėžys Education Department employees arrived to investigate the situation on Easter Day at the church in Miežiškiai.
Government officials from Panevėžys came to the Miežiškiai Locality in the early part of May, 1973, among them Propaganda Department Director Kanapienis, Young Communist League Committee Advisor [Mrs.] Pukienė, [Mrs.] Kalačiovienė, and Dr. Kristutis, representative of the Ramygala atheists. People from the area were summoned to the locality office where they were posed a variety of questions about their personal religious life. Some of the people became frightened and said that they believed but little in God, but others deported themselves very courageously.
One of the officials asked [Mrs.] Gudienė, "Why don't you allow your son to join the Young Communist League?"
"Because I don't see any good examples among the Communists. They are dishonest and liars because they themselves secretly take part in religious rites while slandering others who do so."
Gudienė was berated for this response.
The officials asked [Mrs.] Murmokienė, "Do you truly believe there is a God, and do you teach this to your family?"
The woman confirmed that she truly believes and would always remain a believer.
The rayon officials visited believers' homes and asked them what kind of sermons were being preached by their pastor, and who was letting them bring their children to church? The representatives of the government asserted that Soviet laws permitted parents to take their children to church only once a year. Seeing religious pictures on the walls, the officials reproachfully insisted that their presence was a bad influence on students. Kalačiovienė even said: "You've decorated your walls with pictures of Jews!" Pensioners were threatened with having their pensions cut off. Kalačiovienė demanded that people show her their prayer books and rosaries, and when these were brought out, she wanted to confiscate them, but the owners refused to give them up.
The people were astonished that atheism was so powerless that Party representatives had to go around visiting homes and forcibly wage the fight against religion.
Directors of the local state farm began to intensify their attacks on believers. Office workers were warned that they would be dismissed from their jobs for attending church. They were not intimidated, however, and claimed that they hadn't forgotten yet how to milk cows.
Whenever locality Chairwoman Smetonienė would see people going to mass as she was strolling not far from the church, she would point to her temple with her forefinger to ridicule these people as fools.
The Panevėžys Rayon Party leaders noted down a reprimand against state farm Director Valaitis for permitting priests to purchase apartments.
The principal of the secondary school in Miežiškiai and the Party secretary of the state farm were censured for neglecting their work for the atheistic cause.
Father Masiokas, pastor of the parish in Miežiškiai, died on June 27. He had been badgered by government agents for some time. On Kalačiovienė's initiative, the pastor's telephone had even been disconnected without cause. The directors of the state farm ordered their workers to stay away from the pastor's funeral. No one paid any heed to this prohibition, and many adults and students were present at the funeral.
In May, 1973, sixth-class students of secondary school no. 5 were made to answer various questions, among them: "What is the purpose of man's life on earth?" Many of the pupils answered with words from the catechism. Upon reading such answers, the teacher ordered the young people out of the classroom.
To the question "What name would you give to a new chapter of Pioneers?" some answered, "The name of St. John because he was the finest man in the world."
THE DIOCESE OF TELŠIAI
Tarasov of the Moscow Council for Religious Affairs came here in July, 1973. After inspecting the building in which the Catholics worship, he said, "What more do they want? The Catholics in Moscow have a smaller church and are content..."
But can one compare the number of Catholics in Moscow with that of the Catholics in Klaipėda?
On June 15, 1973, at the request of their parents, [Miss] Eidukaitė, an elderly woman (b. 1887) of Vingininkai Village, was teaching the catechism to sixteen children. A commission comprised of collective farm Chairman Mikutis, brigade leader Vidmantas, agronomist Martinkus, and several representatives of the rayon administration, suddenly and noisily burst into the room. The commission members grabbed the catechisms, prayer books, and rosaries out of the children's hands. The youngsters tried to hide their catechisms and, sobbing, attempted to run out of the room, but the invaders frisked them and confiscated everything. They also recorded the names of each child and of the mothers who were present. The representative of the rayon department of education told the children: "Children, don't listen to your parents and don't study the catechism." The mothers were offended. "These are our children. We've been teaching them and will continue to teach them. We'll get some more catechisms."
The rayon procurator interrogated the elderly Eidukaitė and threatened her with imprisonment.
"It's shameful to go to prison for a sinful act, but for teaching the 'Our Father'—I am not afraid!"
The children and their mothers were also interrogated. Terrified by this experience, some of the children had trouble falling asleep that night.
Many atheistic drawings ridiculing religion and the clergy are posted on the hallway walls of the secondary school in Šilalė. Beside them is nailed a cracked black crucifix representing the approaching end of religion.
Once during class time, teacher [Mrs.] Petvienė and [Mrs.] Bendikienė ordered their students to draw a priest sitting on a devil's lap and surrounded by girls with whom he was drinking whiskey.
Here is what one eighth-class student from Šilalė wrote: "When atheists are unable to drive people out of church with the help of the police, it's as though a worm were gnawing at their souls... Children are forcibly enrolled in The Little Octobrists, the Young Pioneers, and other organizations... How painful it is to think that among our beloved Lithuanians there are such murderers who are destroying the souls of innocent children by leading them astray... In the showcase is the following inscription: 'People seek the way to heaven because they have lost their way on earth.' Those who have strayed from the path on earth are those who go around getting drunk and acting like hooligans. Those who seek the way to heaven are always in control of their passions, always orderly, and cause no harm to others, seeking in this manner eternal life. The persons who put together the showcase clearly reveal their inability to think straight. Ideas must be well thought out to avoid making a fool of oneself."
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Through their unceasing propaganda, atheistic teachers make fanatics of their students. A case in point: Gotautas, an eighth-class student, wore a medal on a chain around his neck. Noticing it, Kurlinkus, a member of the Young Communist League, began to laugh and, calling a friend to help him, tried to take the medal away. Another student shamed them, however, and the two of them withdrew with flushed faces.
Lithuanian language teacher [Mrs.] Balčienė often pokes fun at religious students. During classes, expressions such as the following can often be heard from her: "You, Stasys, should be a priest. Speaking so nicely and softly, you'll be able to grant absolution to sanctimonious grannies."
Of a student with clean hands Balčienė says: "As for you, you'd make a fine pastor. The sanctimonious grannies will enjoy kissing such hands."
The people refer to such teachers as the atheists' "sanctimonious grannies."
On May 25, 1973, second-class pupils were made to draw cartoons ridiculing religion. Failing to realize that this was wrong, many pupils did so. Others, however, were disgusted at such conduct by the teacher. One girl said: "It was so awful that I couldn't look. I asked permission to go to the washroom and stayed there for a half-hour rather than draw any such things."