Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Putin draws a line on Orthodox educational initiative

Sep. 24, 2007 (Forum 18/CWNews.com) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has apparently derailed an effort by leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church to promote religious instruction in state schools, the Forum 18 news service reports.

Non-Orthodox parents-- whether of other faiths or no faith-- have long complained that a "Foundations of Orthodox Culture" course, compulsory in many state schools is catechetical, not a study of Russian culture. The Moscow patriarchate has given enthusiastic backing to the course, but Forum 19 notes that the Church's efforts could now flounder after President Putin's public remarks.

In a mid-September appearance in Belgorod-- the region where imposition of the subject has gone furthest-- Putin stressed the constitutional separation of religion and state. He added, "if anyone thinks that we should proceed differently, that would require a change to the constitution. I do not believe that is what we should be doing now."

It remains unclear how religion will be taught in state schools. Reforms now under consideration in parliament would abolish the regional mechanism through which the Foundations of Orthodox Culture has been introduced. In a position paper sent to Forum 18, however, the education ministry says that the reforms will also allow each individual school to determine curriculum content, "taking into account regional or national particularities, school type, educational requirements and pupils' requests".

[For a more detailed story see the Forum 18 web site.]


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