The Moscow Patriarchate urges to protect children's right to study their religion in school
Strasbourg, April 9, Interfax - The representative of the Russian Orthodox Church claimed in Strasbourg to protect the right of children to advanced study of their religion or conviction systems in school.
"The basic knowledge about different religions should not replace voluntary study of the depth of one's own religion or system of convictions," deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said at the European conference on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue.
The priest further questioned if any interpretation of religion could be called neutral.
The Russian Church's representative believes it important to care for preserving the right of the family to educate their children in the spirit of the convictions shared in the family. "Even if someone thinks that his or her religion is the only true, no element of school education should contradict such conviction," the speaker said.
He thinks there should be no any state-supported monopoly of positivism or materialism in school and "every religion or convictional group must have an opportunity to develop freely within the common educational system."
The conference was also attended by representatives of the European Council's countries, experts, and representatives of certain religious communities: Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Protestant, Islamic and Jewish.
The Moscow Patriarchate's representative also noted that it was very important for the Council of Europe to discuss questions of teaching religion in school. According to him, the information about religion which young people get is very much formed by politicians and the media, whose attitude is often superficial, oversimplified and even aggressive.
"Knowledge about different religions should be present at schools, especially as part of the curriculum of history and sociology," the priest stressed.