Greece’s top court, the Council of State, ruled that the reforms in religion courses in the country’s public high schools are unconstitutional and against the European Conventions of Human Rights. The reforms initiated by former Education Minister, Nikos Fillis (SYRIZA) in 2016, would abolish the catechistic character of religious classes in public schools and promote the more modern, comparative teaching of religions.
“In accordance with the constitutional principle of equality and the provisions of articles 9 and 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the State cannot, by regulating the content of religious course, deprive students of a particular religion of the right which it recognizes to students belonging to other religions, to teach exclusively the doctrines of their faith,” the court ruling said, according to Greek media.
The education ministry had vowed in 2016 to scrap the catechistic character of religious classes, with Filis insisting that they should become more like religious studies, triggering a storm of protests emanating from the Church and more conservative strands of society.
The decision by the court was based on the same criteria as the previous ruling with regard to primary schools.
Commenting on the CoS ruling, Filis told Skai TV on Thursday morning said that the Council of State rules “obscurant things from the Middle Ages.”
Sharply criticizing the decision, the former Education Minister said the ruling infringes the freedom of personality and the state function that should be neutral to religions.
“The Council of State is not the Holy Synod of the church of Greece,” he said.