Religion outside of school: respecting the freedom of conscience of minors
As a practicing Catholic, I agree with the renowned theologian Juan José Tamayo who analyzes in his book The International of Odi” Cristoneofascism, the alliance between neo-fascism legitimized by capitalism and religious fundamentalism supported by a part of the Spanish ecclesiastical hierarchy.
It is incomprehensible how the different governments in Spain continue to maintain the post-Franco agreements with the Vatican, confessional teaching at school and do not stop the im-registration of public goods by the Catholic Church, allowing many remnants of the past to survive and even re-emerge and expand. National Catholicism of the dictatorship in Spain.
This impulse of Hispanic Christiano-fascism coincides with the accelerated expansion of neo-Pentecostal evangelical churches. Its pastors and televangelists, through radio and television stations, are promoters of the ultra-conservative “evangelical vote”. In Latin America, where they have been expanding for years, they have held legislative and local positions, almost always linked to right-wing and far-right spaces, to combat the expansion of rights such as the voluntary termination of pregnancy or equal marriage and promote a clearly neo-fascist agenda. His postulates, in fact, coincide with a good part of the most reactionary neo-fascist ideology of Spanish National-Catholicism.
Spain, a country that has been non-denominational since the Constitution of 1978, the Spanish Catholic hierarchy not only has the privilege of its pulpits and its parishes to expand its doctrine, but has also imposed the requirement, through an agreement at the end of the dictatorship with a foreign State (the Vatican), so that every public educational center is forced to impart its religious indoctrination through the obligatory offer of the subject of religion in all school stages. A foreign country (whoever recognizes it as such) imposes on our State how and with what content to educate the population. Despite being enshrined in the Spanish Constitution itself, non-denominational, which is the maximum legislation to which the others must be subject, no government has applied it by repealing those anti-constitutional agreements with the Vatican.
It questions coexistence and causes segregation
The introduction of any denominational subject at school supposes a serious violation of the Rights of the Child and the Right to freedom of conscience, as stated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1959 and the Convention of 1989, which they reject indoctrination and religious proselytism. In addition, by separating girls and boys who share the entire school day and removing those who do not receive religion from their class, their coexistence, understanding and social cohesion are hindered.
The presence of a religion in the school, whatever it may be, of its teaching and its symbols, constitutes an obstacle to building solidarity in diversity, miscegenation and multiculturalism. And it is not just a question of favoring good relations between the diversity of beliefs, but also of guaranteeing respect and plurality with people who have no religion, who do not believe in any god. Since they could also demand that there be an evaluable subject of “scientific atheism” from childhood, with two hours a week like religion, and that for those who do not want to take scientific atheism, the agnosticism subject be taught as an alternative.
Faced with this, what seems logical is that both believers and atheists and agnostics choose to live their own beliefs in privacy, applying the separation between church and state in all areas.
Catechesis and dogmas
One would have to wonder about the commitment of the Catholic hierarchy to demand a specific subject in all schools dedicated to their catechism. Because there is no doubt that the curriculum for the teaching of the Catholic religion focused on religious dogmas, designed by the episcopal conference, turns the religion class into catechesis, despite the fact that it explicitly states that it flees from “catechetical or indoctrination purposes.” Teaching religious dogmas not only goes against critical thinking and personal autonomy, but there are contents that are in clear contradiction with reason, science and human rights, such as freedom of sexual orientation and equality and freedom of women, among others.
We only have to look at the approved textbooks in that subject to question the constitutionality of some of its teachings. They do not accept the reality of the new family models and persist in their retrograde conception of human sexuality, denying the sexual diversity already recognized by law, or the right to one’s own body, sexual freedom and contraception. They introduce teachings that question education in equality between men and women and continue to defend a patriarchal family model in which the roles and stereotypes of women and men remind us of past times. The theologian Juan José Tamayo notes that: “the contents are entirely catechetical with a tendency towards fundamentalism; the thought that is transmitted is androcentric; language, patriarchal; the mythical conception of Christianity; the approach of faith, dogmatic; the exhibition, anachronistic”.
Without forgetting, on the other hand, that these religion classes are in charge of a legion of catechists. They have been appointed “by hand” by the ecclesiastical hierarchy according to their fidelity to the doctrine, but with the same publicly financed salary (680 million euros per year) as a professor who has had to study for a degree and pass a selective test based on on the principles of equality, merit and capacity. In addition, the Catholic hierarchy can dismiss them whenever it wants and for reasons completely unrelated to their teaching work. While in other subjects respect for all people regardless of their marital status is encouraged, the Catholic hierarchy dismisses, for example, their religion teachers because they get divorced.
More than fifteen thousand true “diocesan delegates” appear as labor personnel in publicly owned schools (this was established by the educational law LOE and the following laws have maintained it). In addition, they are not limited to teaching catechism to schoolchildren who attend religion, but they tend to do Catholic proselytism on occasions that is very fundamentalist.
We must advocate for a fully secular education. The secularism of public institutions is the best guarantee for a plural coexistence in which all people are welcomed on equal terms, without privileges or discrimination. Both Catholics and Muslims, atheists, agnostics or Protestants, etc.
The secular attitude has two components: freedom of conscience and neutrality of the State in religious matters. Each person is free to be or not religious and to embrace the religion they want, while the State must abstain and stay away from these personal beliefs and practices. In this sense, secularism seeks to separate spheres (knowledge from faith, politics from religion, the state of churches), to guarantee freedom of conscience and enable coexistence among those who do not have the same convictions.
religion outside of school
All religions, including Catholicism, must take their rightful place in a democracy: civil society, not the school; that it should be free of any religious proselytism. The appropriate space to cultivate faith in a society in which there is religious freedom are places of worship: parishes, mosques, synagogues or others.
The School must be secular in order to belong to everyone, so that in it all people recognize each other, regardless of what our beliefs are, which are a private matter. Therefore, religion should not be part of the curriculum. Not for anti-religious reasons, but from a beneficial pedagogical and social approach for the development of the minor’s rationality, their independence and personal autonomy, for which they must be educated freely without being taught beliefs that predispose their mind to behaviors or dogmas that condition their personality from childhood.
In addition, religion is already explained and taught in most of the subjects that are studied throughout schooling (Catholic in Spain and Latin America, Jewish in its area of influence, as well as Muslim or Buddhist). In the Spanish curriculum, for example, the Catholic religion is referenced and explained to analyze the architectural style of a temple, to explain the medieval Camino de Santiago or a painting by Velázquez or a score by Bach, to delve into the literature of the century. of gold or the origin of the Castilian language and, above all, to understand most of the history of this country.
The Catholic religion currently has a higher workload than content as important as physical education or artistic education. What’s more, religion classes subtract many hours from other subjects, which are important and agreed upon by the entire educational and social community.
In a non-denominational State like the one we have adopted in the Spanish Constitution, with freedom of worship, a secular school should be promoted and strengthened, as a plural instrument, defender of human rights and freedoms. In any case, art. 27.3 of the Spanish Constitution includes the right of families for their daughters and sons “to receive religious and moral training that is in accordance with their own convictions.” But not that this training is given in educational centers, and less financed by the State.
Families who want their daughters and sons to receive religious formation are very free to do so, but obviously outside the educational system. That is what the parishes, mosques and spaces of the different religions are for, where they can receive this religious and moral formation and practice it.
In short, the School must overcome this form of indoctrination and be the place to educate in universal scientific knowledge, in civic and universal values. Each religion, which is one belief among many others, must in any case be spread in the private sphere of the family and places of worship. We need a secular school, where both non-believers and believers feel comfortable. That is why we must refuse to allow public money to finance any type of religious indoctrination. The school a place to reason and not to believe.
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