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7. Religious instruction as an independent subject of instruction should not come in before the third school year. In order that the interest of the child may not suffer, the number of hours should be lessened in all grades. The customary division of religious instruction into biblical history (explanation of the Bible) and teaching of the catechism is to be abolished. Likewise examinations and censorships in religion are to be abandoned.
8. The entire instruction in religion must stand in harmony with the established results of scientific research and with the enlightened moral sentiment of our times.
9. Along with the reform of religious instruction in the Volksschule there is needed a corresponding transformation of religious instruction in the Seminar [normal school].
In the debates at Zwickau the merits of the case were very fully discussed. The reports of the committee men, preceding the presentation of the resolutions, made plain the general principles at issue and explained the specific provisions of the theses; a and the subsequent debate by the members gave a hearing for all essential points of view. The exchange of opinion was free and unhampered, and the vote must be taken as recording the serious conviction of the teachers present.
The publication of the Zwickau theses at once precipitated a discussion which has continued with great intensity and often with acrimony during the year. On both sides many meetings have been held, many addresses made, many pamphlets printed, with the result that every vital feature of the proposed reform has had a thorough hearing, and every objection has been made manifest. The present report can indicate only in the most general way the lines the agitation has followed.
OPPOSITION OF THE NATIONAL CHURCHTHE MEISSEN COUNTER
The Zwickau theses naturally aroused an immediate and vigorous remonstrance in church circles. While a considerable element among the clergy have from the first given their support to the reform, the majority have seen in the movement danger for the church and for the religious welfare of the people and have opposed it. Immediately after the Zwickau meeting protests began to pour in upon the Kultusminister of Saxony. In various quarters of the Kingdom organized action against the teachers' movement was begun. On February 10, 1909, the Landessynode of Saxony, the highest organ of the national church, met in extraordinary session in Meissen and put itself on record concerning the Zwickau proposals. With only one dissenting voice the clergy present adopted the following counterresolutions :
a The detailed explanation of the several theses by Lehrer Arnold of Pirna is especially helpful. For good summaries of the addresses at Zwickau, see Brück, Zur Umgestaltung des RU. in der Volksschule. They are dealt with, one by one, controversially by Rietschel, Zur Reform des RU., and by Katzer in Neues Sächsisches Kirchenblatt, 1908, Ns. 20, 34, and 35.
• The more important of these publications will be included in the bibliography at the end of this report.
* It is said that 800 such protests reached the Kultusminister in Dresden. For an example of such protest, see Sulze, Das rechte Verhältnis, 13.
The Landessynode resolves that it regards a transformation of the religious instruction in the Volksschule, in relation to matter and method, as necessary from religious and pedagogical standpoints, and for that reason takes the following fundamental position :
1. In the first place it believes that for the future as for the past a harmonious cooperation of church and school, born of mutual trust, is necessary for a praiseworthy education of the young, and is of the highest value for our people.
2. Now as always, it does not oppose the establishment of a purely professional oversight of the state over the schools.
But it maintains the duty and right of the church to have oversight over the religious teaching of its adolescent members.
3. It agrees that the religious instruction should be essentially instruction in biblical history, as well as in the history of the Christian church, and that the person of Jesus should stand at the center of instruction.
But it regards as indispensable that in the Biblical instruction the saving truths of Christianity and the power of Jesus Christ should be brought so close to the souls of the children that they shall learn to recognize Him not only as a religio-ethical example, but also as their Savior and Redeemer.
4. It advises a new selection of religious material for learning as well as a moderation of the amount required, where it is necessary.
But it regards as important and beneficial that hereafter as before the youth shall be given for life the richest possible treasure of scripture and song.
5. In catechism instruction it regards a change in the method of treatment and in the amount to be memorized as necessary.
But it wishes to know that the teaching of youth is well grounded in the spirit and confession of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and maintains that for this purpose the popular Evangelical Lutheran confession, the Shorter Catechism of Luther, can not be replaced.
6. It does not desire such a confessional religious instruction as will sharpen the contrast with the communicants of other confessions.
But it does desire that the children shall be educated to be fully conscious living members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and precisely by that means be educated to a true tolerance for other believers.
These resolutions have an irenic tone and show the disposition of the clergy to cooperate in the work of reform. But their pronouncements do not depart from the churchly point of view as to confessional instruction, clerical supervision, and the other questions in issue, and hence do not provide any adequate basis for agreement between the parties to the controversy.
* The text of the Meissen resolutions with the synodal debates are printed in Leipziger Lehrerzeitung, 16 Jahrg. 422-424; the text alone in ('hristiani, Die Zwickauer Thesen, 6; Rietschel, Zur Reform des RU, 5-6; Sulze, Das rechte Verhältnis, 14.
THE LEIPZIG MANIFESTO AND PUBLIC CONFERENCE.
Since the Meissen resolutions public discussion has been busy throughout Saxony. In the main the secular press and the general public have given their support to the teachers. In the realm of politics the Social Democratic and Liberal parties have expressed approval of the Zwickau programme, the Conservatives have taken ground against it, and the National Liberals have been somewhat divided. On some occasions pastors and teachers have got together for conference, but most of the debate has been on partisan lines. The controversy has developed its acutest forms in the city of Leipzig, naturally the educational center of the Kingdom. Early in the year the following manifesto was circulated, signed, and published:
To the public-school teachers of Saxony, who with unusual unanimity stood at Zwickau for a reform of the religious instruction, we hereby openly offer our warm sympathy.
We, too, desire that the Christian religion should remain an essential subject of instruction in the Volksschule and see the highest aim of religious instruction to make the mind of Jesus live in the children. We, too, in part the parents of evangelical school-children, desire that in the provisions of the law the right of our teachers to fit the content and method of instruction to this aim be more clearly defined.
In particular, we urge, in the interest of an unified mind and character building among our youth, that the teacher of religion be allowed, without molestation, to follow his pedagogical conscience in the consideration of the scientific inquiry within the established course of study, and we find it to be adapted to the nature of the child mind that religious instruction be based entirely on those materials in which perceptibly religious and moral life is presented to the child, and that it lay chief emphasis on this religious and moral life and not on dogmatic formulas.
Furthermore, we desire that the public-school teacher be free to withdraw from the giving of religious instruction.
Finally, we understand the endeavors of the teachers to gain freedom from the supervision of religious instruction by the clergy, and we trust our teachers to give worthy religious instruction without such supervision.
LEIPZIG, January 27, 1909.
This manifesto was signed by nearly 300 representative men and women of Leipzig, Dresden, Chemnitz, and other towns, among the signers being 36 professors in the University of Leipzig, 17 pastors, and divers other notable persons. Noting the fact that over 100 of the signers are men of university education, the Leipziger Lehrerzeitung claims for the reform movement the special sympathy of the educated classes.
a The leading daily papers of Leipzig, the Tageblatt and the Neueste Nachrichten, have taken an active part in the campaign. See Leipz. Tageblatt, May 19, 1909.
Leipz. Neueste Nachr., May 14, 1909,
. For the attitude of the several parties in the fall elections and in the Landtag now sitting at Dresden, see Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 35-37, 47, 88–89, 108-110, 129, 238-240, 253, 302, 372–378.
& Leipz. Lehrerzeitung, 16 Jahrg. 285.
« The manifesto with the signatures is printed in Leipz. Lehrerzeit, 16 Jahrg. 310-315. The total number of signatures to May, 1909, was 1,710. Leipz. Lehrerzeit, 16 Jahrg. 661. * Leipz. Lehrerverein, Die Zwickauer Thesen, etc. 6. The proceedings in full in Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 16 Jahrg. 527-529, 536–544.
In other ways the teachers kept their interests before the public. On March 16, 1909, the Leipziger Lehrerverein convened a great open conference in the city for the consideration of the Zwickau Theses, at which about 3,000 persons are said to have been present. After free debate the conference, with little dissent, adopted the following resolution : 4
The public assembly of about 3,000 persons to-day convened in the Alberthalle of the Krystallpalast offers its support to the efforts of the teachers for the reform of the religious instruction in the Volksschule, as it is defined in the Zwickau Theses.
LATER ACTIVITIES OF THE OPPOSITION.
The controversy got a new intensity from the annual meeting of the Meissener Kirchen- und Pastoral-Konferenz. This body is a free association of pastors and laymen for religious purposes, and met in Meissen May 11, 1909. The chief address before the conference was given by Professor Rietschel, of the theological faculty of the University of Leipzig, and was in its nature a somewhat severe and polemical detailed criticism of the Zwickau Theses. As the basis of his address Professor Rietschel presented certain theses of his own in attack on the fundamental positions of the Zwickau programme. By vote of the conference the address was printed and distributed among the schools of Saxony, and obviously served to give a fresh impetus to the debate. The Meissener Konferenz also adopted resolutions of its own, giving substantial sympathy to the position of Professor Rietschel, but also making a plea for peace and cooperation between church and school.
Throughout the year the various forces opposed to the Zwickau movement have been active and influential. The Evangelisch-lutherische Schulverein, an organization of pastors, teachers, and others in the conservative interest, has carried on a vigorous propaganda against the Zwickau plan. In general the strength of the national church has been used in support of the existing system. In the smaller cities and towns and in the country districts the conservatism of the people and their attachment to the church have occasioned much reaction against the position of the radical reformers.
The address of Professor Rietschel, printed under the title : Zur Reform des Religionsunterrichts in der Volksschule, Leipz. 1909, has already been frequently cited. It is perhaps the most important “Streitschrift " produced by the debate and served to make its author the leader of the conservative element. The reply of the Lehrerverein is contained in the pamphlet: Die Zvoickauer Thesen und Geheimer Kirchenrat D. Rietschsl. Leipz. 1909.
* Leipz. Tageblatt, May 13, 1909.
. Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 16 Jahrg. 960–962; 17 Jahrg., Beilage zu Nr. 15, 8. The Sächsische Kirchen- und Schulblatt is the principal organ of this conservative group. The writer regrets his inability to use the files of this journal.
• The Reformed Church in Saxony has taken a more friendly position toward the movement. See Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 16 Jahrg, 382–385, for the meeting of the Protestan- tenverein in Dresden, February 4, 1909, which indorsed the Zwickau Theses.
CONSTRUCTIVE REFORM MEASURES—“IM STROME DES LEBENS."
During the year the teachers have devoted their energies more to constructive plans of reform than to popular agitation. In one degree or another almost every Bezirksverein in the land has busied itself with the problem of religious instruction. It is essential here to note the more significant features of this activity.
At about the date of the Zwickau meeting, in the autumn of 1908, the “Religionskommission” of the Leipziger Lehrerverein had published a reading book, Im Strome des Lebens (Leipzig, 1909), for use in the religious instruction in the schools. The book met with immediate favor, a second edition being necessary in a few months.
This volume reveals in concrete and specific form the ideals for which the teachers are working. In the “Vorwort," it says:
Among teachers the conviction is steadily gaining ground that the religious and moral life of our children is not promoted by lectures and the learned exposition of dogmas and of Biblical materials of remote significance, but orly through the presentation of religious life.
Proceeding on those lines, the book endeavors through narrative and verse to bring before the child the best products of religious experience within the range of his comprehension. Its contents are grouped under nine general divisions, as follows:
I. Childhood and Home.
V. Duty to Men.
IX. Upward to God. The selections are borrowed mostly from modern German literature, with the obvious purpose of exemplifying and enforcing the common duties of life. The biblical materials in the volume, drawn chiefly from the psalms and the gospels, emphasize the general truths of religion more than the distinctive tenets of Christianity. This volume has done much to make known and popularize the ideas of reform.
a Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 108-109. The Staatsminister Dr. Beck claims that the Lutheran Church in Saxony is steadily growing stronger. Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 375-376.
• Professor Rietschel, Zur Reform des RU. 37-40, criticises the hook as taking all distinctively Christian meaning from the religious instruction.