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!
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: