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A Slovak teacher speaks out on religious education

The Concordat on Catholic Education divides the children into Catholics and non-Catholics. What does this mean in practice? An experienced teacher, Paed. Dr. Anna Bukovinová, says that children who opt for Catholic religious instruction are regarded as bound for Heaven, and the others as heading straight for Hell. She objects to "forcible Catholisation".

The Concordat on Catholic Education ensures that, from the time they start school, all children are labelled in terms of religion. They must take either religious education (RE) or ethical education (EE). In small places there may be too few non-Catholics to offer anything but RE. And in larger centres the children who take EE may face discrimination.

From a letter by Paed. Dr. Anna Bukovinová of Spišské Bystré published by the Slovak Spectator, 29 September 2003:

I [have] a qualification for teaching [both] religious education (RE) and ethical education (EE). These two subjects, instead of being equal and optional, have been artfully made contradicting and opposing each other. Children are discriminated according which subject they select as believers and non-believers. The teacher of catechism (teacher of RE) is considered to take children in heavens, while the teacher of EE takes the children in hell-fire. Teaching religion is privileged and given priority, while EE is condemned even in churches. The RE is given the best time in the curricula, while EE must be taught in the late afternoon hours.

[Through the education concordat] the Christian democrats in Slovakia want to push through optional teaching of RE and /or EE starting from the first form of primary school. It happened at my school that children were put for RE without informing parents and without their consent. One little girl was disclosed as being not baptised, and the others started to tease her. She cried incessantly. In the neighbour village parents of a Lutheran child decided to choose for her Catholic RE in order to avoid bullying her, but children ridiculed her as a Lutheran, non-Catholic, loathsome girl. Parents were obliged to take her from school and put her in the district town school.

The RE is given time in morning hours, therefore children who selected EE must sit on these classes regardless they did not want to attend it. Teachers of catechism sometimes bully those who are not frequenting officially the RE. The headmaster of my school cheats the parents by enforcing all children a religious life stance, by not informing parents about the alternative option, and he decided himself to put the children arbitrarily in the RE. The lady teacher of the RE started to terrify children by affirming that that EE is against God, and if they do not stop to attend it they commit a serious sin. The priest in church several times warned parents that EE is only for "non-believers", children who attend it will not be admitted to any sacraments. All that leads to decline of interest in EE and the headmaster wanted to cancel the EE. He prohibited checking attendance at classes of EE, in order to allow children escape home early without attendance at the classes of EE. Curricula are set up intentionally so that attendance of EE overlaps wit attendance of obligatory teaching subjects. All these fact prove that RE is artfully and forcibly enforced to children, I want to know if such a system is valid in other countries. I am personally [a] believer, nevertheless I consider all that a forcible Catholisation of children from their most tender age.



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