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Morning prayer, mass attendance for school kids is constitutional, says court

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Morning prayer and church attendance by pupils in kindergarten and primary school do not violate the Greek Constitution and therefore it is legal to keep them in place, the Council of State said on Friday.

The ruling came after a request by a group of school parents to abolish part of a presidential decree from 2017 which provides for joint prayer for students and teachers in kindergartens and primary schools and for the possibility of church attendance on specific holidays.

The judges in the top administrative court argued that prayer and church attendance as part of the educational process, as well as the teaching of the subject of religion, “are necessary means by which the constitutionally-enshrined purpose of the development of the religious consciousness in Greeks is served,” citing Article 16, paragraph 2 of the Constitution.

The court noted that these provisions are addressed exclusively to students who adhere to the Orthodox Christian doctrine and not to heterodox, non-Christian, or atheist students, for whom the court recognizes the possibility of being exempt from church and morning prayer if their parents submit a declaration that they do not wish for their children to participate in those events.