Education victory for the Church

In an apparent effort to avoid further confrontation with the Church, the government said yesterday it had no plans to implement a decision this week by a privacy watchdog that would make it much easier for schoolchildren to skip religious education classes. Education Minister Petros Efthymiou said there would be no change in the current system that allows exemption from religious education for children whose parents are self-declared atheists or subscribers to religions other than Greek Orthodox Christianity. The Authority for the Protection of Personal Data (APPD) had instructed the ministry that parents need not specify why they did not want their children to attend the classes. «An a la carte education that depended on parents’ beliefs would be extremely tricky,» Efthymiou said. He added that he would seek clarifications from the APPD on its ruling that schoolchildren’s religious beliefs should not be mentioned on primary and secondary school graduation certificates. Church spokesman Ierotheos, Bishop of Nafpactos, said he appreciated Efthymiou’s «sensitive approach.»

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