That Old Ecumenical Song
Russia's Minister for Education and Science Andrey Fursenko spoke at the 2004 All-Russian Social Forum and stood up for lessons in the history of world religions at school. He said at that the lessons must not be optional and they are to be taught by secular teachers. Andrey Fursenko says lessons in the fundamentals of the world religions should be secular, and pupils must be given an option at that. The minister thinks the lessons in the history of religion differ from religious studies carried out by clergymen of various confessions and religions. "In this country, the school goes separately from the church; pupils are given secular education, that is why religion lessons cannot be compulsory at state schools," Andrey Fursenko says. The Ministry for Education and Science is now compiling textbooks and drafts of two manuals on history of religions.
The Russian Orthodox Church supports introduction of the fundamentals of the Orthodox Culture. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II says introduction of these lessons is advisable because school children should be given education in religion. He also emphasized the lessons are important as Orthodoxy is Russia's major religion. The Patriarch also says that followers of Islam, Buddhism or Judaism may study their cultures as well. "Every civilized man must know the history of his culture. The whole of Russia's history is based upon Orthodox traditions and moral principles," Alexy II says. Generations to come must know Russian historical figures such as Daniil of Moscow, Dmitry Donskoy and Ivan Kalita, he adds."
Head of the Education Department in the Moscow administration Lyubov Kezina says "Orthodox lessons cannot be introduced at schools not to disturb people practicing other religions". Officials say it is important because Moscow is the city where followers of various confessions live. Instead of lessons in fundamentals of Orthodox culture, the Moscow education department introduced lessons in all religions at once; secular experts developed the course (Belous, "Pravda," November 15, 2004).
[TBC: While the Ecumenical movement stresses equality and mutual respect for all religions, in actual practice the religious groups involved are vigorous involved in protecting their own "turf."]