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Council of State rules “religion courses in schools only for Greek-Orthodox students”

The Council of State ruled on Friday that religion courses in primary and secondary education schools are exclusively “Greek-Orthodox.” The ruling cancels the previous content of religious books as it was decided by SYRIZA Education Minister Kostas Gavroglou and leads to re-writing of thousands of books.

The Plenary of the Council of State (CoE) has decided that religious instruction books in schools is “exclusively for Orthodox Christian students”, pointing out that “the development of Orthodox Christian consciousness must be pursued”.

The plenary session has ruled as “unconstitutional” and as “opposed to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)” the decisions of former Education Minister Gavroglou, who had set the guidelines for the religion books in primary and secondary educations incl the high-schools.

Gavroglou had introduced the course “religion science” enabling students to learn also about other religions like the Judaism and Islam.

Gavroglou’s books “do not aim to develop the religious consciousness among the Greek Orthodox students, since the primary and secondary schools do not contain comprehensive -and distinct from other doctrines and religions- teaching of the dogmas, morals and traditions of the Orthodox Church, and the high school curriculum is disconnected from that teaching. ”

At the same time, they urge the State to ensure that there is no “free time” if there is a sufficient number of pupils seeking religious exemption.

In its ruling the CoS urges the state for find alternative course in order to avoid a “course-free hour” if there are enough pupils seeking exemption from the religion course.

According to the Council of State “heterodox, non-religious or atheist students have the right to be fully exempted from the lesson by submitting a relevant statement.

The Council of State ruled with a majority of votes.

Former SYRIZA Education Ministers Gavroglou and Nikos Filis who had also implemented some changes in the religion teaching in schools, said that the CoS ruling takes the country 50 years back.

Rewriting of “religion textbooks to promote religious consciousness” will go hand in hand with rewriting of history textbooks to shape “national consciousness” as Education & Religion Minister said recently.

PS As long as the Greek Constitution does not separate Church and State, the Greek Orthodox faith will be ruling over the anachronistic education system.

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