From state atheism to religious and religious studies Cover Image

From state atheism to religious and religious studies

Author(s): Vitaly Lebedev
Subject(s): Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Philosophy of Religion, Politics and religion
Published by: Національна академія керівних кадрів культури і мистецтв
Keywords: state atheism; religion; church; spirituality; religious education; religious Study;

Summary/Abstract: The article studies the issues of the negative impact of the state atheism policy aimed to eradicate the religious beliefs from the minds of people. The abandoning from this policy after the Soviet Union collapse led to the introduction of spiritual and religious (secular) education in Ukraine, it assisted growing of the authority of the Church as a whole.The attention is focused on the fact that the atheism as a state ideology was actively promoted by a number of institutions and the mass media. After the Soviet power had been established the "The Union of the Godless Warriors" was created, the various kinds of anti-religious printing and newspaper production were published.The author described the stages of the state atheism policy; he opened the forms and the methods of govern-mental activities, aimed to eradicate the religious beliefs from the minds of people. These activities often extend beyond the law and human morality. The article shows that physical destruction of the clergy, the destruction of churches, monasteries, mosques and other places of worship had a significant role. State atheism in the Soviet Union has gone from primitive criticism of clerical using campaign posters in the 20s of the twentieth century, the so-called "scientific atheism" in the days of Khrushchev – Brezhnev. The article provides examples of activities lecturers and propagandists of scientific atheism in Ukraine during the Soviet era. It contributed to the development of scientific atheism religious studies as a science: there are numerous scientific studies which, although not free from ideological accretions, but created a frame-work for the development of contemporary academic religious studies.The historical context highlights the stages of religious studies, the meaning and the functions of a spiritual enlightenment education and religious and professional education, which became possible in the independent Ukrainian state as a result of the democratization of all spheres of church-state relations, are described. In the spiritual (religious) education are distinguished: general spiritual awareness education as religious education, education for rooting the faith of the faithful of a particular denomination, and religious and vocational education, which provides training for the future clergy (priests, pastors, mullahs, muftis etc.). The author compares the state of general spiritual awareness education in times of state atheism, which is characterized by a relatively high level of awareness among believers based on their faith, a modern "religious nihilism" when the faithful of many denominations cannot explain in what they believe and why. With respect to religious and vocational education trend is the opposite: the level of education in modern theological academy and seminary greatly exceeds what could get seminarians at the time of the domination of state atheism. This is caused by the fall of the "Iron Curtain", which allowed free access to the world of theological thought, and flourishing their theological studies in Ukrainian theological academy and seminary.In this article the author gives a comparison of secular and spiritual education that exists in Ukraine, analyzes the advantages and disadvantages of each. In particular, highlighted the necessity to keep existing in Ukraine is a clear separation of the spiritual and secular education, but offered this field of education mutually enriches each other. This process of mutual enrichment should occur naturally non-coercive way: by understanding and recognition of certain ad-vantages that exist in different educational systems of secular and spiritual.The author defined a number of recommendations concerning the interaction of the state (secular) and spiritual (religious) education; he highlighted the trends of the development in the context of the church-state relations in the present. In particular, the article provides suggestions on procedures for the recognition of diplomas spiritual institutions of higher education by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine by introducing into the curriculum of educational institutions such compulsory public education component. This component can serve as the one minimal but sufficient condition that, on the one hand, will consider certificates that give spiritual (religious) institutions of higher education, so as to meet state standards, on the other hand, minimizes the interference of state bodies in activity of church schools, and consequently, the activity of the Church.