Russian Orthodox Church in favor of religion classes in schools

The Russian Orthodox Church welcomes the Education Ministry's plans to start Orthodox culture classes in Russia's secondary schools.

"This is a huge step aimed at tackling the legacy of state atheism, thus giving children who believe in God a chance to feel like they are at home at school, rather than in a hostile environment," Father Vsevolod Chaplin, deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchy's public relations department, told Interfax.

He noted that guidelines need to be developed in order to make the teaching of the Orthodox culture as voluntary as possible and to put a system in place so as to enable those of other faiths to study their own religious culture, be it Islam, Judaism or Buddhism.

The priest stressed that curricula of this type exist worldwide successfully. In almost all European countries, secular schools have religious classes, including as an obligatory subject, and are funded by the government "This is the norm, and what we have here is a deviation from the norm," he said.