Belgium's religious leaders want to keep religion in school programs

Belgium's religious leaders want to keep religion in school programs

The leaders of Belgium's five officially recognised religions have called on political leaders to ensure continued mandatory religion courses are offered in official school programs. "We demand that a compulsory religion course be maintained in the official timetable of students," the eight representatives and leaders of the Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim faiths in the country are quoted as stating in their joint letter.

In the letter, they argue that religious education facilitates the approach to the question of "meaning," adding that it contributes to peaceful coexisting by encouraging "dialogue between culture and religion."

The leaders also call for the adoption of the "relevant arrangements" that could ensure that the organisation of these lessons is "both constructive and nonconflictual."

In support of their arguments, they argue that cutting religious courses out of school programs would be contrary to the Belgian constitution, according to media reports.

The leaders and also advance that "between 80 and 90 percent of parents (...) sign up their children to a religion or morality class."

In the runup to Belgian elections the question has been fueling debate, with different candidates calling for religious and morality courses to be either optional, replaced or cut from official school programs.

On April 23, as the Belgian Senate prepared to vote on a number of Constitutional revisions, over 200 civilians and members of religious and educational organisations published an open letter on La Libre arguing against introducing the notion of secularity in the Belgian Constitution, arguing it "affected the balance between state and religion."

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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