Greek theologians, education minister clash over religion classes

Greek theologians, education minister clash over religion classes

The National Union of Theologians is urging school teachers to boycott religious education classes in protest at changes introduced by Greece’s leftist-led government.

In a letter sent to directors of primary and secondary education schools, the union said teachers have the right to abstain from classes following a ruling earlier this year by the Council of State deeming the changes unconstitutional. It said teachers can still teach the subject using the previous syllabus and textbook.

The letter drew the ire of Education Minister Costas Gavroglou who described the call as “reactionary and obscurantist,” adding that responsibility for the school curriculum lies exclusively with the state.

“In our democracy there are rules and laws. No one is above the law,” he said.

The education ministry had vowed in 2016 to scrap the catechistic character of religious classes, with then education minister Nikos Filis insisting that they should become more like religious studies, triggering a storm of protests emanating from the Church and more conservative strands of society.

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