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Support Romanian Secular Public Schools

So, I was tagged in a Facebook post this morning. I normally am not interested in being tagged in Facebook posts. But this was a rare occasion where it was something legitimately interesting. A group in Romania has organized a protest of religious instruction in their public school system. They have many local secularists posting images of themselves calling for secular public school and education. And this is aligned to the mission statement of ACA.

Show Your Support

After I posted a supportive comment on the thread (“Go, Romanian Secularists!”)—I got an IM from one of the people involved, who asked the following:

May I be so bold in asking you for a selfie with a sign that encourages our fellow Romanians towards secularism, and especially the separation between church and schools (public education)? In English, of course. It would mean a lot to many of your fans here. Something like this www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=853842617976927

I replied immediately with an absolute “YES!” I don’t get all that much contact from Romania. But, if they’re trying to promote secular public schools, that is an idea I can fully get behind. I think asking for a photo showing support—a simple morale booster for the secular folks over there working toward this goal—is a fairly modest request. If I can’t show even that much support for a community working toward common goal, about which I feel strongly—what am I doing here?

In addition to saying I would send a photo, I also said I’d ask my Facebook wall to submit photos from around the world, and post the request to the TAE blog as well. I strongly encourage posting a photo of yourself (or your secular group) with a sign encouraging these folks in this effort, in your native language, and submitting that image here: www.facebook.com/events/577670279017966

Show Romanian secularists there are folks outside of Romania who are aware of this, and that there is a larger, global community willing to step up and give them a “Hell Yeahz, Romanian Secularists!” It’s a simple thing. It would give them a boost. And I encourage everyone who supports this to participate. I’d love to see them flooded with support images, but I’d be happy with even a few more than my own. If participating in this is your “thang”—then, by all means, go for it!

The Grievances

Let me leave off with a breakdown of what one protestor cited as grievances:

  • The B.O.R. (Romanian Orthodox Church) has already instituted religious classes in public schools – every child is added to these classes by default, with the possibility of opting out, along with the consent of the parents.
  • Religion class attendees receive a maximum grade just for attending, which raises the overall grade average. This is blackmail, or at least privileged treatment for those attending.
  • There is no alternative to religious classes. Those who opt out have nothing to do for one hour, and they cannot leave school.
  • Pupils who opt out have to stay outside of class, sometimes in the rain, because religion classes are always programmed in the middle of the day.
  • While this is already unconstitutional, sometimes the opt-out is not accepted by the school council, other times children who opt out are marginalized and verbally abused by religious teachers and colleagues (pupils)
  • Religion-class teachers are paid by the Ministry of Education, but they answer to the Church, administration-wise.
  • Science in schools is slowly being replaced by creationism and religion, even science teachers are being replaced by religious fanatics who are “teaching the controversy”
  • Churches and politically recognized cults pay no taxes, have accountability to no government institution, even though they own commercial businesses such as hotels, real estate, forests (being exploited), mass-media trusts, several TV stations, factories
  • Real-estate owned by B.O.R. is estimated to 420.000.000 euro. Nobody knows how much they have in overall wealth
  • There are overall 18.429 churches in Romania (+129 since 2010), but just 4.022 schools (-678) and 361 hospitals (-64)
  • Recently, the B.O.R. was declared “a fundamental institution of the Romanian state” and essential in its strategic defense

 The Event Page

And here is a link to the event:

www.facebook.com/events/577670279017966

Comments

  1. says

    the orthodox church has immense power over Romania. It is very normal that a politician builds a church for a village of city to to gain votes. Some villages are over saturated with churches.

  2. David Marjanović says

    I recommend suing at the European Court for Human Rights.

    Recently, the B.O.R. was declared “a fundamental institution of the Romanian state” and essential in its strategic defense

    That’s going to collide with the EU law at some point.

    • says

      no, it isn’t it is a similar concept as the Anglican church. Norway and Denmark have similar state religions. state controlled religion isn’t against human rights unless the state monopolizes on religion and ban others.

  3. L.IANA says

    We have hard times here, and any help we get is appreciated! Thank you for your support!
    (English is not my native language, I apologize if my grammar is not good) :)

    • says

      Your grammar is fine. And your message is clear. Thank you all for standing up for secular education where you live. It is inspiring to see different areas of the world working toward more human/secular government and improvement.

  4. lpetrich says

    “Essential in its strategic defense”? Is there a warlock brigade of Romanian Orthodox Church priests in the nation’s army? Like in a sword-and-sorcery computer game. I must have played too much of Bungie’s Myth series, I think.

    Something like all those students of Jewish religious lore in Israel. Their defenders have made similar claims on their behalf.

  5. says

    Great!

    Thanks for your support guys, your help is so important for our little community, we need all the help we can get against this fascist, anti-gay, anti civil rights, anti-whatever rights juggernaut of a church called BOR (Biserica Ortodoxa Romana – Romanian Othodox Church)

    In this time of crisis and anti-European populists, the EU is not pushing that much on the civil rights issues, it prefers to buy some time and allies. And, in the end, the EU is not that hell-bent liberal power that some might dream of, some interesting facts from Romani: the Church registered almost all of its properties (churches, schools, office buildings) as “monuments” that way not it only doesn’t pay taxes, but actually receives fat checks for maintenance (as gold plating roofs and extravagant stuff like that) in just one case among hundreds, they got 22 mil € last year from EU (20) and Bucharest City Council (2) for “maintenance” on what was already the most lavish private building in Romania (from 1912 until 1994 it housed the Romanian Parliament, transferred to the church use in 1994, transferred to church property in 2010)

    The EU Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) determined in 2013 that the EU or Romanian labour laws do not apply to the Church employees (priests or carpenters or whatever) as this would be an infringement of religious autonomy. That way, an abused church employee is prevented from presenting his case before a judge.

    Even when the European Court of Justice decided to return the property of some buildings from BOR to some other churches (like the catholics) neither the EU nor the Romanian Goverment moved a finger to actually enforce the rulings.

    Just look at this picture from a couple of days ago (05/2014), they are staging these Klan-like shows more and more often around the country:

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfp1/t1.0-9/10425191_10202365765047047_2720586086709017320_n.jpg

    I was missing something, great show!

    • says

      Thank you so much for posting this information. I feel woefully ill informed, and I’m glad you all are having a chance to voice these grievances to a larger audience. I hope you will continue to have the opportunity. Thank you for speaking out and raising awareness about all of this.

  6. Gogu says

    The BOR is by all means a real mafia like organization that is backed up by the politicians. In the communist era they acted like spies, gathering info from confessionals. And besides this new problem with the schools there is an other: The Cathedral of National Redemption. A building so big that will put The people’s home to shame (i think that is the 2nd largest building in EU after the Versalilles. This is how most of most of the new orthodox churches look like in a 2nd world country with a lot o economical problems, Gj on investing in some new job opportunities guys!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIcPyoAHrHY In a village with 5500 residents, with no daycare churches have golden roofs. Yeah, real gold.

  7. Ilumielle says

    Religion class attendees receive a maximum grade just for attending, which raises the overall grade average. This is blackmail, or at least privileged treatment for those attending.

    Pupils who opt out have to stay outside of class, sometimes in the rain, because religion classes are always programmed in the middle of the day.

    This isn’t “always” true.

  8. says

    Wow! Thank you for your support, and thanks to the international secular community as well. Our campaign has reached so much further than expected and hoped for. I am a teacher at a public Romanian school, and i have firsthand experience with the things that go on. I mean , priests are brought in to fix problems like an undisciplined class of 12 year olds, to bless the school and “exorcize” bad behavior. Children of other religions find their educational course sabotaged by their orthodox teachers. Children are taught that other religions are evil and the people who follow them actually follow satan. Children are absolutely ignorant of their own growning sexuality and every year i have at least one student that gets pregnant. All this stuff has to change. Thank you again.

    • ema says

      Are the priests considered school employees and paid with public funds? And if yes, how is that legal?

      As to Sex Ed, are you not allowed to teach it or is it just not included in the curriculum?

  9. says

    You absolutely have my support but you really should change the word ‘public’ to ‘state’. Public school has a different meaning in English. You are talking about ‘state schools’ and the ‘state school system’.
    Best of luck!

    Robert

    • says

      Hi Robert:

      I used “public” on my sign because I live in the U.S. and was asked to use my native language on the sign. Here, public schools are what we call our tax funded schools. “Private” schools would be any schools that are not tax funded–and would include religious schools. So, we don’t use the label “state” school, we use “public” as our indication of something that is government supported. We have “public” and “private” school options. So, here in the U.S., if you refer to a “public” school–everyone understands you mean the tax school system run by elected public officials, as opposed to private schools where people have to pay privately to send their child, and where it is not run by the elected government officials.

      Here is an article to explain education in the U.S. and the “public” school system:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_the_United_States

      I hope this helps clarify why I used “public.”

  10. says

    :)) it’s the well-known “Religion is like a penis. It’s fine to have one and it’s fine to be proud of it, but please don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around… and PLEASE don’t try to shove it down my child’s throat.”

  11. Paul B says

    Born and raised in Romania, moved to the US many years ago. I’m quite disappointed to see that not only did secularism not make any headway since I’ve left, things have gotten progressively worse. Knowledge is power, and I feel optimistic about the younger generation ridding itself of the shackles of religion. I remember that when I was in school in the 90s, religion as a course was optional but it was basically a class that indoctrinated kids into the Orthodox faith.

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