Friday, August 29, 2008

Moscow Mayor Comes Out Against Mandatory Orthodox Theology Courses in Schools

(August 28, 2008)

Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov has come out against the mandatory teaching of Russian Orthodox theology in public schools, according to an August 27, 2008 report by the Interfax news agency. Such mandatory courses have been introduced in a few regions, along with elective courses in several others. "Our schools are multi-confessional," the mayor said. "There are hotheads from Orthodoxy who want to make such classes mandatory, and I'm an Orthodox person, so I speak from experience on this." If such classes are mandated, "we will end up not with united, multi-confessional relations, but a country divided along confessional lines." He would be willing to support elective history of religion classes, however, "but not more than that." Aside from the heads of predominantly Muslim regions like Tatarstan, Mayor Luzhkov is the first major regional leader to state opposition to the plan, which is backed by the Russian Orthodox Church and some officials. Human rights activists have opposed the introduction of theology courses in the schools as a violation of the Russian Constitution and have pointed out that the main textbook that accompanies the courses contains antisemitic passages.


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