July 21, 2009

Russian Pupils to Have Choice of Religion, Ethics

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

[From the last post we read how the Russian Prime Minister Putin is a bit elusive in speaking openly about his faith, presumably for political reasons since he is often accused of trying to work with the Russian hierarchy to establish his supposed Tsarist rule on Russian society. Now Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announces that students of Russian schools will be required to take religious classes from their choice of religion listed below or even a secular ethics class. The purpose is to give students a sense of morality following Soviet atheistic rule which made morals and ethics to have no foundation. In the recent past it was discussed that there would only be a choice between Russian Orthodox classes or no classes for the students to decide, now some sort of ethical foundation of any tradition or philosophy listed below is required. This is to be looked upon as a positive since many students are not properly knowledgeable of their religious tradition and will give them an opportunity to become acquinted with their tradition as well as open society in the future to inquiries and debates on these topics. - J.S.]

Russian Pupils to Have Choice of Religion, Ethics

July 21, 2009

Barvikha, Russia - Russia's president has announced a pilot project in which schoolchildren will have to take classes in religion or secular ethics.

Tuesday's proposal is part of a Kremlin effort to teach young Russians morals in the wake of a turbulent period of uncertainty following the collapse of the officially atheist Soviet Union.

President Dmitry Medvedev said preteen students at about 12,000 schools nationwide would take the classes. They will be offered the choice of studying the dominant Russian Orthodox religion, Islam, Buddhism or Judaism; or an overview covering various faiths; or secular ethics.

The offer of a choice appeared aimed to ease concerns that Russian Orthodoxy will be forced on schoolchildren as the church gains influence and tightens ties with the state.

Russian president supports religion education in schools

BARVIKHA, July 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday expressed his support for a proposal to teach religious education in Russian state schools.

He also backed the suggestion that chaplains should be employed in Russia's armed forces.

"I decided to support both proposals," the president said at a special meeting on the subject. The proposals had been made by religious leaders from Russia's main faiths.

The president said a pilot project would be launched in 18 Russian regions until 2012, and later across the whole of Russia. The first lessons, to involve 256,000 children and 44,000 teachers, could begin next spring.

"It could be the basics of Orthodox or Islamic culture, as well as Judaism and Buddhism. Students and their parents should make this choice for themselves," he said.

A course on Russia's four largest religions, as well a course on secular ethics will also be available as an option, Medvedev added.

Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill expressed his support for the idea, but stressed that the course should be optional.

"Experience shows that only a voluntary insight into such ideas, namely religious ideas, is beneficial," he said.

Religious education took place in Russian schools up until the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and the establishment of the officially atheist Soviet system.