Religious leaders insist that R.E. kept in school curriculum
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    Religious leaders insist that R.E. kept in school curriculum

    © Belga
    Religious leaders unite, angered by the approach of FAPEO.
    © Belga

    Religious leaders from the Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox churches, Protestant, Evangelical, Anglican and Jewish communities are inisisting that Religious Education (R.E.) is kept in school curriculum. This was disseminated yesterday (Wednesday) in a communiqué.

    They wish to maintain religious education in the school timetable, having met for “an urgent meeting” on Tuesday.

    Moreover, they regret the “pressure” exerted by the Federation of Parents Associations Formal Education (FAPEO) on parents, advising them to “dispense with religious and moral studies, in favour of their children pursuing two hours a week of Philosophy and Citizenship.”

    The heads of these religions confirmed in a joint communiqué, “The values of faith, justice, dialogue and peace, found within all beliefs, allow children and youngsters the opportunity to deepen the roots of their religious culture.”

    They elaborate, “They also provide powerful levers for building an environment in which to live together as a community.”

    These heads of religion also speak of sharing parents’ concerns “learning that in some schools no R.E. is provided or that R.E. teachers are prevented from teacher-pupil interaction, the teachers being confined to study rooms. ”

    The heads of religious communities are insisting that “R.E. should be effectively maintained alongside teaching Philosophy and Citizenship,” in accordance with both the Constitution and general legislation.

    They mention, “Within our society, freedom of religion and freedom of expression are fundamental liberties.”

    Moreover these heads of religion criticise FAPEO’s leaflet distribution to parents inviting them to “request that their children be exempt from religious and moral education to pursue two hours of education in Philosophy and Citizenship.”

    They are angered stating, “Catholic, Muslim, Jews, Orthodox, Protestants and Evangelicals (…) have not been shown the requisite level of respect and we wish to condemn this.”

    This joint declaration was signed by a number of religious leaders.

    These included the President of the Muslim Executive of Belgium, Salah Echallaoui, the Archbishop of Malines-Brussels Jozef De Kesel, the representative of the Orthodox Church, the Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium, and the President of the Jewish Central Consistory of Belgium, Philippe Markiewicz.

    Also putting their names to the communiqué were the President of the United Protestant Church of Belgium, the Minister Steven Fuite, the President of the Federal Synod of Protestant and Evangelical Churches, Geert Lorein, and the President of the Central Committee of the Anglian Communion of Belgium, Canon Jack McDonald.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times