New City Policy on Church and Schools Creates Controversy - The Reykjavik Grapevine

New City Policy on Church and Schools Creates Controversy

Published October 19, 2010

The Reykjavík city council human rights committee recently passed a proposal that would ban any church officials from working in playschools and primary schools, and professional contacts between the church and these schools will cease. Church officials have responded with surprise.
As Fréttablaðið reported, the proposal prevents church officials from visiting schools on a professional basis, and also prevents schools from bringing children to church. As it is, a study conducted by the city found that 80% of primary schools bring their children to church, with some children being sent home with religious literature. City council contends this has resulted in numerous complaints from parents.
Primary schools and playschools are under the jurisdiction of the municipalities, and as such, city officials can make decisions on school policy.
Church officials have expressed surprise at the proposal. Reverend Halldór Reynis­son told Fréttablaðið “We are professionals. When a very serious event has happened, such as a death, we do our work in a professional manner. If we cannot be called upon to protect the welfare of children, then the best service for the children is not being provided.” Other church officials have taken the argument further, accusing the city of trying to completely secularize schools.
Social Democrat city councilperson Oddný Sturludóttir, writing on her blog, tried to assuage these concerns by saying that the national law that requires Christianity to be taught in schools will not be affected by city policy, nor will the celebration of traditional Christian holidays. “No one is trying to ruin Christmas,” she writes in part.

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