Page 2, 21st March 1969

21st March 1969
Page 2
Page 2, 21st March 1969 — Russians alarmed by big growth in baptisms

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Russians alarmed by big growth in baptisms

SOVIET publications are busy trying to explain to the Communist party faithful why an increasing number of parents are havine their children baptised. despite intensified anti-religious propaganda.

The publications admit that many of these parents are young and suggest they arc persuaded into having their children baptised by the older generation. They also admit that baptisms are more frequent among relatively welleducated parents than among the so-called "illiterate" groups.

Prof. B. Zelenkov, of the philosophy faculty of the University of Gorky, in an article in the magazine Molody Kummunist (Young Communist), reported on a survey conducted among the 3.5 million people of the Gorky region. This revealed that 60 per cent of parents who had their children baptised were under 30.

The professor said therd had been a widespread opinion in Russia that the observance of

religious rites, including baptism, was a sign of backwardness and lack of education. The figures gathered in the survey showed this view to be invalid. They showed that "the people having their children baptised in the USSR are by no means illiterate persons."

He explained this phenomenon by saying that anti-religious propaganda in the Soviet Union was directed mainly at illiterate or semi-illiterate persons. Propaganda workers were forgetting about the young parents who had some education.

SERIOUS OBSTACLES "Religious rites, especially baptism, present a serious ob

stacle to the atheistic education of the young because of the fact that not only do the young parents of an infant become accessories to the performance of the rite, but other persons do as well. Suffice it to point out that 69 per cent of the so-called 'godparents' are persons under 30 years of age."

It was also pointed out that there were considerably more Soviet godparents than natural parents under 30 years of age.

Prof. Zelenkov also speculated as to why the percentage of godparents of so young an age was so high. He discounted to some extent the influence of grandmothers or lack of education.

He cited the possibility that within the godparents and young parents dwelt some remnants of religious belief that apparently were beyond the reach of the anti-religious propaganda workers.

He also complained that inadequate anti-religious instruction of the "unconvinced" and "hesitant" was a principal obstacle to the development among young parents of a consistent atheistic viewpoint. The prevalence of a certain "ambivalence" and "toleration" with regard to religious rites "has proved very detrimental to our atheist cause."

Bishop Butler to speak on Biafra

BISHOP BUTLER will speak on Biafra at a meeting in St. Pancras Town Hall today. The meeting is jointly sponsored by the United Nations

Association, the Social Morality Council, the British Council for Peace in Nigeria and the British Humanist Association.

Other speakers include Lord Fenner Brockway and Auberon Waugh.

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