Russian Parents Complain About the Origins Textbook

Russia Parenting

Russia: a textbook describes angels, holy water and miracles and it is used for a course called “The Foundations of Spiritual and Moral Culture of the Peoples of Russia.” An official complaint has been filed by a group of Russian parents who are claiming that a regional education department is spreading religious propaganda on their children through this textbook. This way Russian Orthodox Church keeps trying to teach more religion in public schools.

One of the parents, Inna Gerasimova, told for Russian daily news that she and several other parents had decided to file the complaint after reading the Origins textbook given to their children. Their fifth-grade children, who are 10-11 years old, have been learning from this book on a course called “The Foundations of Spiritual and Moral Culture of the Peoples of Russia.” The problem occurred among not only atheists but also religious people because “half of families in our school are Muslims, because this is a new Moscow district”, according to Gerasimova. She also noted, “We have Jewish families as well as Roman Catholics and Adventists.”

The subject "Foundations of Spiritual and Moral Cultures of the Peoples of Russia" began to be taught in Russian schools on 1 September 2015. The discipline is not required for study and therefore each school is left to its own discretion for ways of implementing the subject area approved by the Ministry of Education. It is taught from the 5th to 10th grade and parents in Moscow can choose whether they want their child to use the Origins textbook for the course. Textbooks on Muslim and Buddhist cultures are available in other regions, as well as books on general ethics and the history of world religions.

According to the upset parents, the troubling book presents the existence of demons and guardian angels as fact, while explaining and teaching that miracles can be performed with the help of icons and holy water.

They had gone to the education ministry’s local department to point out the flaws in the textbook, but they were told to address their complaints to the school administration. Apparently the school administration insisted that the textbook had been introduced at the department’s initiative in the first place. As a result, the parents decided to file an official complaint with the prosecutor's office.

The Russian Federation is a strictly secular state and proscribes the authorities from giving preference to any religion, while also prohibiting them from imposing restrictions on the religious freedom of Russian citizens, according to the Russian Constitution. Russia’s Supreme Court has ruled to uphold the ban of Muslim headgear in schools introduced last fall by authorities in two Russian regions, Stavropol and Mordovia. The Mordovian government’s order banned not only hijabs, but also any clear demonstration of any attributes of any religion. The ban also extends to blue jeans, miniskirts, low-cut tops, bright makeup or hair dye. The court ruled that this measure did obstruct Muslims’ faith in God and did not infringe on their constitutional rights.

Photo Credits: Cold As Guis

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