Teach Religion at School, Calls Patriarch

It is high time to teach the ABC of religion at secondary school, said His Beatitude Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

As he sees it, the choice of religion and related cultural precepts for classes will concern only established religions and confessions, and depend on the predominance of a particular ethnic entity in the locality. Attendance will be optional, at the wish of students and their parents.

"Muslims who live in Russia must know the history and basic premises of Eastern Christian culture. As for Muslim-populated areas, ABC of Muslim culture must join school disciplines there. Such classes have been introduced in Tatarstan by now. The same concerns Buddhism and Judaism in places with considerable Buddhist and Jewish communities," His Beatitude said to an annual session of the Russian Academy of Education, whose Fellow he is.

The Patriarch has been insisting for several years now to have optional Eastern Christian culture classes introduced in secondary school on an optional arrangement. Andrei Fursenko, recently appointed federal Minister of Education and Culture, sees his point, said Alexis II.

Cultural ABC is not religion proper. The discipline will give an idea of a thousand-year culture-something every educated and conscientious person ought to know. This country arose on Christian values, and we cannot ignore the fact, stressed His Beatitude.