Greek Independent Authority Rules Against Recording of Religious Faith at School

Greece’s data protection authority (HDPA) ruled on Wednesday that keeping records of the religious faith of students violates the constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The independent authority also ruled that it is illegal to ask parents to submit an official statement declaring their child is not an Orthodox Christian – Greece’s dominant religion – in order to be exempted from religion class.

The HDPA called on the Education Ministry to comply with the decision.

The non-binding decision by the HDPA was made following complaints by an atheist group and human rights activists.

The complaints had targeted the listing of schoolchildren’s faiths on grade completion certificates, on an internal Education Ministry portal and on declarations non-Greek Orthodox parents must sign to exempt their children from religious education classes, which are otherwise obligatory.

Greece stopped the practice of listing individuals’ religious faith on national identity cards in 2000, despite strong opposition from the powerful Orthodox Church of Greece.