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Moscow regional council promotes Orthodox priests as teachers in schools (2)

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www2.stetson.edu/~psteeves/relnews/1211f.html#39 Moscow regional council promotes Orthodox priests as teachers in schools (2) BOARDS HELP ORTHODOX
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2012
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      Moscow regional council promotes Orthodox priests as teachers in schools (2)

      by Mikhail Moshkin
      Moskovskie novosti, 27 November 2012

      The head of the board of the Lomonosov district of the capital sent out
      an email to principals of the district schools requesting they consider
      the possibility of teaching an elective course on the history of
      religion. According to the prefect's letter, the classes should be
      conducted by Orthodox priests.

      The short letter on the letterhead of the district administration, dated
      20 November, contained the request "to consider the possibility of
      arranging optional teaching of the history of religion involving
      Orthodox priests on the base of the educational institutions entrusted
      to you." It is explained that the board is sending the request to the
      directors pursuant to an order that the prefect of the Southwestern
      Administrative District, Viktor Fuer, gave during a conference on 9

      Principals of schools of the Lomonosov district have commented on the
      letter extremely cautiously.

      "I will exercise my civil right to leave this without comment," the
      principal of School 779, Denis Grachev, answered MN's question. "This is
      official information."

      At the same time, the principal of School 119, Svetlana Churakova,
      confirmed that a letter really had come from the board, and the school
      has already made a decision: it is not possible to provide
      extracurricular hours for priests, and the foundations of religious
      cultures and secular ethics will be taught by a regular teacher.

      On 20 November, the same day that the document was signed, a scan of it
      appeared on the atheist LiveJournal "Antireligion." The user
      "monorilsky" posted the text and explained that "I received the document
      at first hand." "Most likely, the 'original source' works in a school
      that received this document," a teacher of one of the schools of
      southwestern Moscow suggested in a conversation with an MN
      correspondent. The document was actively spread around the Internet by
      the staff of the anticlerical foundation "Common Sense." "We have sent
      an inquiry requesting an explanation whether such an order really had
      been given, and if so, then what, in fact, it is based on," the head of
      the foundation, Artem Zhuravskii, explained for MN. "The inquiry was
      submitted on 21 November and an answer has not yet been received."

      From the point of view of the head of the "Common Sense" foundation,
      Zhuravskii, the order of the prefect of the southwestern district (if it
      really was made) is illegal, and it violates the law "On freedom of
      conscience and religious associations." Thus, article 4.2 of this law
      provides that in accordance with the constitutional principle of the
      separation of church from state, "the state ensures the secular
      character of education in state and municipal educational institutions."
      This requirement, "Common Sense" suggests, pertains to elective courses;
      one may teach only what is provided for by the federal and regional
      component of the basic curriculum.

      The Lomonosov district board refused to comment. Only on 26 November was
      the situation explained by personnel from the prefecture of the
      southwestern district of the capital. "This appeal to principals of
      schools was of a recommendation nature, as a request for advice. After
      all, we cannot require principals to ensure the participation of priests
      in the educational process," the press secretary of the prefecture,
      Elena Nikiforova, explained to MN. She said that the order had been
      drawn up by the prefect "in connection with a corresponding appeal to us
      by representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church."

      The Moscow Department of Education told MN that it did not know anything
      about a document from the district board addressed to principals of
      local schools.

      Elena Zaichikova, the chief legal consultant of the synodal Department
      of Religious Education and Catechesis: "The very possibility of
      extracurricular teaching of the history of religion, including the
      involvement of Orthodox priests, does not violate currently existing
      legislation. It does not contain any such prohibitions; the issue is the
      optional nature, i.e. teaching outside the framework of the required
      curriculum. In this case we are talking not about the teaching of
      religion but about some educational cycle which, I stress, is optional,
      so that a state or municipal schools has the right to implement it. The
      school should decide for itself." (tr. by PDS, posted 28 November 2012)

      Russian original posted on Interfax-Religiia site, 28 November 2012

      Related article: Moscow regional council promotes Orthodox priests as
      teachers in schools
      <http://www.stetson.edu/%7Epsteeves/relnews/1211e.html#34> November
      20, 2012

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