Hindu Statesman Calls for More Balanced Religious Teaching in Iceland - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Hindu Statesman Calls for More Balanced Religious Teaching in Iceland

Published November 2, 2009

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in made in the US today, said that under the subject of religion and theology, Iceland should come up with a comparative religion class teaching basics of all major world religions, including the viewpoint of non-believers.
The statement released by Zed reads as follows:
Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that opening-up the Iceland children to major world religions and non-believers’ viewpoint would make them well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. It also made a good business sense to know the beliefs of “others” in a global community. Moreover, students should have knowledge of the entire society to become full participants in the European community.
According to International Religious Freedom Report 2009 of U.S. Department of State about Iceland, which was released few days back: School grades 1-10 (ages 6-15) are required by law to include instruction in theology. The law also mandates that general teaching practices be shaped by “the Christian heritage of Icelandic culture, equality, responsibility, concern, tolerance, and respect for human value.”
This report further says: The precise content of this instruction can vary, and some observers have claimed that religious indoctrination can take place, as the curriculum is not rigid and teachers often are given wide latitude in the classroom. Lessons on non-Christian religions are part of the curriculum, but teachers focus mostly on Christianity. The compulsory curriculum for Christianity, ethics, and theology, does, however, suggest a multicultural approach to religious education and an emphasis on teaching a variety of beliefs. In secondary schools, theology continued to be taught under the rubric of “community studies” along with sociology, philosophy, and history.
The report points out: Students may be exempted from Christianity classes…There is no obligation for school authorities to offer other religious or secular instruction in place of Christianity classes. Some observers have noted that this discourages students or their parents from requesting such exemptions and may isolate students who seek exemptions or put them at risk of bullying in schools.
The report adds: The Government does not actively promote interfaith understanding and does not sponsor programs or an official church-government council to coordinate interfaith dialogue.

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