Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bulgaria debates bringing religious studies back into schools

"[...] Under a bid to promote respect for minority rights, optional studies on Christianity or Islam were actually introduced about a decade ago though only 14,000 students nationwide follow the course on their respective religion.
But these classes "are attracting less and less interest," said an opponent to the government's plan, Lyutfi Mestan, [...] "Instead of teaching tolerance, this type of religious study has divided pupils," he insisted.[...]
During communism, church-going was not tolerated so when the regime fell in 1989, people reacted by crowding back into churches. Traditional rituals were revived for Easter and Christmas and are still largely followed, even if only 30 percent of Bulgarians define themselves as believers.


Many Bulgarians still confuse religious faith and superstition, a 2004 Gallup poll showed.
Half of all people in this east European country still believe in black magic and fear the evil eye, while one in five people believe ghosts exist, black cats bring bad luck and that one can talk to the dead, according to the poll.
Gallup analyst Andrey Raychev suggested that imposing religious studies on an atheist population could be "dangerous" if religion was only presented in a good light without discussing the Crusades, the Inquisition or moments when religious fervor led to repression and abuse.
This would be "a grave error", he insisted.

AFP, 23. February 2008

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