Religious education in Romanian schools: a success of civil society in cooperation with the Church


November 12, 2014. The Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) declared religious education in schools unconstitutional, despite the fact that only two years ago the same institution rejected a similar request. The text of law declared unconstitutional has been in force for 20 years and states as following: “At the written request of the student of age or of the parents or legal tutor, the student can be exempt from religious education classes”.

January 23rd, 2015. The decision of the Constitutional Court was officially published (known as the CCR decision no 669/2014). The consequence was not only that it made religious education non-compulsory, but it also required parents to file an application if they wanted their children to study it in school.

February 20th, 2015. With the blessing of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the first branches of the Parents’ Association for Religious Education in Schools (APOR – represented by Romanian TV celeb Liana Stanciu) were established in Bucharest and many more followed in all Romanian cities. The goal was to determine Romanian parents who want to support and improve religious education in schools to get involved.

But the more urgent purpose was to get parents to comply with the new rules and file the application for their children to study religion in schools.

The task was seemingly impossible, since the Ministry of Education announced the applications were to be filed until the deadline of March 6th. But APOR mobilized in an exemplary way throughout the country.

March 6th, 2015. Romanian parents have already filed 2,123,685 applications for their children to attend religious education classes. The number represented almost 90 percent of the total number of pupils and high-school students from the country. After all the applications were numbered, the percentage was of over 91%.

This prompted Romanian Orthodox Church to officially declare the action has proved that „it has referendum value, calling upon Family, School and Church to dialogue, co-responsibility and cooperation to promote an integral education, which unites spiritual formation and scientific information of the students”.

March 28th, 2015. The National Assembly of the Romanian Parents’ Association for Religious Education in Schools (APOR) has announced that its future goal is to initiate two amendments to Romania’s Constitution, as following:

  1. Religious education to be guaranteed as part of the mandatory school curriculum and applications to be filed only by the parents who would not have their children study religion in school (in other words, a guaranteed return to the status quo  before the CCR decision)
  2. Marriage to be explicitly defined as the union between a man and a woman

Despite the fact that EU has long been well-known as the spearhead of secularism, religious education is a mandatory study discipline in 25 of its 28 member states and even in some regions of France, a country which has maybe the oldest secular tradition on the Old Continent.

Read also Romanian religious education law declared as unconstitutional


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