The citizens of Berlin rejected calls from the Pope, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and others to allow religious classes to be substituted for compulsory ethics classes. It is a victory for those of us who have decried the loss of civics education and the increasing integration of religious training in public education. The campaign was led by a group called Pro Reli — “Reli” is the street name for religious classes.
The referendum actually attracted a small percentage of citizens with only 14.2 percent voting. However, 51.3 percent rejected the proposal to allow religious courses to be used as a substitute — a major campaign among Muslims in the city that also attracted the support of the Pope and Merkel. There were still 48.5 who voted for the change.
I do not see why it is such a radical concept to require all children to learn the shared civic principles of tolerance and pluralism as part of their education. It is not indoctrination but the basis of the constitutional system. With the increase in Western blasphemy prosecutions, such shared values are all the more important to instill in society. While religious groups are perfectly correct in objecting to particular aspects of the training if they are critical of faith, the principle of having such a course should be unassailable. For civil libertarians today, many are saying “Ich bin ein Berliner” (even if it does mean that we are jelly donuts).
For the full story, click here.