Dispute over Public Religious Symbols in Romania

December 12, 2006

Source: Ekklesia


Churches in Romania have denounced calls from an anti-discrimination body for a French-style ban on religious symbols from schools in order to protect the state's secular character and ensure "freedom of conscience" for pupils - Jonathan Luxmoore for Ecumenical News International.

"The presence of religious symbols in schools is not the result of an imposition, but rather of the desire and consent of parents, teachers and students in conformity with the religious and cultural values which they share," the Bucharest Patriarchate of the Romanian Orthodox Church said in a statement rejecting the call.

"Consequently, a decision to exclude them would represent a brutal and unjustified measure of restraining religious liberty, contrary to European democratic principles," it continued.

Romania's National Council Against Discrimination had on 21 November 2006 stated that the education ministry should "prevent discrimination towards agnostic pupils" by requiring school directors to restrict faith symbols to "spaces specially assigned for religious instruction".