Last November, Romania’s highest court ruled that students shouldn’t be required to submit a request to opt out of religion classes.
Instead, the justices said, it should go the other way: students ought to opt in, rather than opt out. Especially since the country is a secular state and there is no state religion, this seems only fair, right?
But imagine the consequences! If there aren’t enough pupils who enroll for any particular religion class, it can be cancelled! Much of Romania’s religious establishment — most notably the Eastern Orthodox population, which makes up more than 80 percent of the country’s 20 million people — is up in arms.
Public personalities, including actors, writers and journalists, have joined a campaign aimed at encouraging parents to enroll their children in religious studies classes in school. Parents have [until] March 6 to file a written request if they want their children to attend divinity classes in school.
The campaign is being supported by Romanian Orthodox Church, which is using its media channels in order to promote the idea. In recent years, the Church has started to use a range of media to put forward its message, including a website, TV, radio stations and its own daily newspaper.
That’s all fair game. As long as the campaign doesn’t seek to make religion classes mandatory, and doesn’t try to return to an opt-out model, I can support both sides here.
But I still have to shake my head at some of the religious rhetoric:
Patriarch Daniel, the head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, on Sunday said children “need a spiritual and intellectual formation in schools… Religion is the most profound science, and signing up for this discipline is an act of public confession of faith.”
Confess away, Pat (do you prefer Pat? Or Dan?). Just leave the rest of society out of it, especially children who are too young to make up their minds.
Oh, and when you try to pass off faith as “science,” you’re going to have to get used to a choir of snickers while we await whether you will also call black “white,” and up “down.” Words still have meaning, and our words of the day — if not the century — are “secular,” “constitution,” and “court verdict.” See if you can grasp what they mean.
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