From Iceland — Do Not Have to Learn Christianity in School

Do Not Have to Learn Christianity in School

Published October 29, 2010

A statement from the Ministry of Education outlines their legal opinion on the recent conflict that has arisen between Reykjavík churches and public schools.
As has been reported, the Human Rights Committee of city hall recent drafted a proposal that would ban church officials from conducting missionary work in playschools and primary schools. This led to strong reactions from conservatives on the committee, as well as from the church. Some church officials have erroneously contended that the proposal would ban Christmas in schools, while the Bishop of Iceland himself called the proposal “prejudice and opposition to faith, especially Christianity.”
Since then, the proposal has been withdrawn, so that the language could be clarified.
The Ministry of Education has taken a legal examination of the matter. While there are national laws with regards to Christianity and public schools, the schools themselves are under the jurisdiction of the municipalities, and so the question of religious indoctrination in schools is poorly defined.
In a statement from the ministry, the onus seems to fall upon parents to specify to schools that they do not want their children to be taught Christianity.
Parents may request that their children not be taught Christianity, the statement says in part. The statement also says that if the school is planning to take children to church, or if priests are coming to teach Christianity, that parents must be informed ahead of time with ample notice so that parents can ask their children be excluded.
A final version of the Human Rights Committee’s proposal would specifically ban missionary work in playschools and primary schools. A re-submission of this proposal is still pending.

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