Russia to Teach Religion in School

The Moscow Times is reporting that Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed new legislation that requires all schools to teach a class in the “fundamentals of religion.” So they’ve gone from the officially atheist stance of the Soviet Union, where the government was anti-religion, to now having a government that endorses and teaches religion. Neither is a good option. The correct position is neutrality, especially in schools.

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  • OverlappingMagisteria

    Is there any other detail on what the “fundamentals of religion” class is like. If it is a comparative religion class that presents religions academically and how they influence society then I see no problem with it, so long as it is taught fairly. If it’s proselytizing, then I agree that it would be a bad thing.

  • Jim

    Wait, why is this necessarily a bad thing? I mean, I’m not seeing the curriculum here, so might it not be a presentation of a variety of religions as equals, at least in intent?

    I’m a Christian, but I’ve taught my oldest boy the basics of Hindu, Buddhism* and Islam because I want him to be able to make an informed choice. He might choose not to believe. I don’t see the fact that I’ve done this as a bad thing.

    * I know very little about Buddhism, and have honestly reached the end of my knowledge with him on this one – thankfully, I have a Buddhist friend who’s good with kids.

  • What OverlappingMagisteria said. If it’s a comparative religion course or something along those lines, bring it on! And then convince America to do it too!

  • It might not be too bad (but it probably will be) Perhaps it’ll have the opposite effect than intended: Russians are used to being lied to and might realize religion is an official lie for political control.

  • busterggi

    Putin & the Russian Orthodox Church have a real bromance going on.

  • Yep, the Russians are getting right back to the governing principles they had before Communism: Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality.

    And we wonder why their Communist Party is making a bit of a comeback recently…

  • hexidecima

    I see it as the same kind of nationalistic religion that so many want to force on children in the US. Putin doing this will make them more rabid.

  • “Mister President, we can’t allow a ‘teaching religion in public schools’ gap!”

  • If it’s a comparative religion course or something along those lines…

    Are you kidding? This is the same church-state coalition that wanted to send Pussy Riot to a labor camp in Siberia just for getting uppity in an Orthodox church. Those folks don’t do “comparative religion” or “religions as equals.” Or history for that matter.

  • raven

    Putin is just recreating the old Russia.

    The backwards poor one that spawned the commie takeover in the first place.

    They have a Tsar named “Putin”.

    Who is going to use the Russian Orthodox church to try and keep power. And vice versa of course.

    Similar to the USA. Here we have a mutual destruction pact between the fundie xians and the Tea Party/GOP. They are either going to destroy us or destroy themselves.

    When you join religion and partisan oligarchic politics at the hip, people who don’t like those particular politics end up not likely that particular religion either.

    Xianity, dividing societies and families since 33 CE.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Religion is false. It doesn’t get much more fundamental than that.

  • All Putin needs to do now is change his name to Romanov.

  • ImaginesABeach

    NPR did a short bit about this in the last week. There are several choices – the parents choose which one their kid goes to. One is Orthodox, one is world religion, there may be another. It sounded like around 1/3 choose Orthodox.

  • peterh

    The “fundamentals of religion,” properly approached, could take an entire first year of a seminary curriculum.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    So [Russia has] gone from the officially atheist stance of the Soviet Union, where the government was anti-religion, to now having a government that endorses and teaches religion. Neither is a good option. The correct position is neutrality, especially in schools.

    One interesting conundrum for public school educators is how to teach history and sociology given that religion’s net impact has been to predominately increase human suffering over the past several hundred years. My public K-12 education avoided the societal impact of religion. This approach seemingly leads to neutrality towards religion but in fact benefits religion by not revealing the suffering it causes. It also harms public school students by not sufficiently teaching us objective truth. To teach the truth of religion is to not act in a neutral manner but instead to harm it.

    Only when I went to college did I begin to see the evidence on the role religion played in human history. That was one of the great astonishments to be found at college; along with the incredible amount of evidence for that which science holds which falsifies much of Christianity’s beliefs and the level of dickishness of inebriated frat boys.

  • anubisprime

    I rather expect Putin is a closet godbot!

    He has certainly forged an unholy and totally disreputable bond with the Russian jeebus drooolers in chief.

    The language and actions that occurred over the ‘Pussy Riot’ debacle seem typically bitter theist twaddle.

    The church were the ones that pushed for arrests etc etc, appealing to the police and law courts to take the strongest action, and when they did the ecclesiasticals started wringing handy pandies in mock horror at the sentences!…amidst the fiercest condemnation for their original stance from the rest of the world!

    Too little… to late padre…and great big wet crocodile tears just don’t cut it any-more methinks!

    Your pompousness will not be forgotten!

    This had a lot more to do with political ego then anything, and Putin used the church blasphemy nonsense trumpeted by the ‘crows’ to exact some childish tantrum of revenge.

    Your priggishness will not be forgotten either ‘Vlad the jailer’

  • grumpyoldfart

    On his own, Putin has to convince people to vote for him. If he can get the church leaders on his side, they will tell the flock how to vote and the flock will obey. [So much easier.]

  • freemage

    Found a site with a few more details. This is actually a story from early 2012, but I suspect the bill is about the same. Here’s some from that link:

    The elementary and middle school students may choose to study either the history of one of the four religions termed ‘traditional’ – Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism – or more general courses on “foundations of religious culture” or “Fundamentals of public ethics “. So far the lessons have been concentrated in only a quarter of the school year, but the Orthodox Church has asked it be extended over the whole year in 2012. Banned during the Soviet period, religion returned to schools in April 2010 but only in 19 regions, with an initiative strongly supported by the Patriarch of Moscow and blessed by the Kremlin, interested in cementing common values of national identity .

    So you get your choice of the Abrahamic traditions, Buddhism or a broader one–the last (“public ethics”) might even have a secular focus.

  • Crudely Wrott

    Michael Heath:

    To teach the truth of religion is to not act in a neutral manner but instead to harm it.

    This statement is undeniably true. The hardest part is finding those who, lacking religious convictions, are able teach the subject in a detached and objective manner as well as providing them with a secure atmosphere in which to do so.

    Seems like damn near everyone today has some sort of dodge with which they seek to escape reality. This makes freedom for teachers in the classroom an near impossible task.

    Given the history of Russia, I doubt that these conditions will be easily met. Which means, of course, that one religion will be promoted while the others are casually dismissed. Purely for national unity, which, in the classroom is more important than anything else since purity and co-identity is more

    important than blending with the rest of the planet’s people.

  • sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    As people have said, Putin’s alliance with the traditionally authoritarian Orthodox Church isn’t a good thing. In addition, the Orthodox Church has been making determined attempts to suppress other varietias of christianity and take over their property. Even if people believe absurd nonsense, they should have rights.

  • jnorris

    Russia, please transfer all of your nuclear weapons to the USA for safekeeping. Also start outsourcing running your nuclear reactors to a responsible, mature peoples, like the French. Thank you.

  • AJS

    Well, if they do it like they teach religion here in the UK, they will end up teaching that all religions are equally riduculous. This is about the best recipe for raising agnostics 🙂