Theologians urge school teachers in Greece to boycott new religious classes

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The National Association of Theologians in Greece is urging school teachers to boycott the new books in religious studies classes, arguing that too much emphasis is placed on other faiths in a predominantly Orthodox Christian country.

The association’s chairman, Iraklis Rerakis, sent a letter to teachers in primary and secondary schools across Greece, telling them they had the right to act “according to their conscience” and to abstain from the curriculum changes which came into effect this new school year and was introduced by the leftist Syriza government.

The letter also told teachers they can still use the previous syllabus and textbook for religious studies.

The Education Ministry has threatened to take disciplinary action against teachers who boycott the new book, with Education Minister Costas Gavroglou saying “the responsibility for the school curriculum lies exclusively with the state. In our democracy, there are rules and laws. No one is above the law.”

Syriza has been arguing with several religious organisations in Greece, which last year won legal action against an earlier revision of religious studies books. They successfully argued that they violated the constitution which says schools have a duty to develop the “national and religious consciousness” of students.