Religion class ‘compulsory’

Education and Religious Affairs Minister Evripidis Stylianidis yesterday wrote to Ombudsman Giorgos Kaminis to complain that the watchdog had gone too far by insisting that schoolchildren have the right to skip religious class. Religious education classes «remain compulsory for all Orthodox Christian pupils,» Stylianidis said, adding that Kaminis had «overstepped the limits of his institutional competence» by suggesting otherwise. Stylianidis was responding to a letter he received from the Ombudsman last week, and which has since sparked a debate about whether religious classes in schools are compulsory or not. Kaminis had noted in his letter that «according to existing laws, all pupils have the right to be exempted from religious education lessons if they or their parents invoke reasons of conscience.» Stylianidis countered that only «pupils of a different faith» could be granted an exemption from the classes.