The Council of State (STE), Greece’s highest administrative court, published its ruling on Friday in which it deems the changes to religious education introduced by the previous government as unconstitutional.
The left-wing government of the SYRIZA coalition changed the way religious classes are taught in the country’s primary and secondary schools in 2017.
According to the SYRIZA-era reform, religious classes in Greek schools changed their focus from teaching Orthodox Christian values to a more general religious education, in which the beliefs of every major religion are taught.
According to today’s STE judgment, the Greek constitution does not allow such a reform, as it mentions that religious classes in Greek schools must seek to develop the Orthodox Christian spirit and conscience to the students; provided, of course, that they are Orthodox Christians.
Pupils and students who are not Orthodox Christians or are atheist, can obtain an exemption from these classes by submitting a written request.
According to the rule of the court, if the number of students who decide not to take Orthodox Christian religious classes at school is significant, the school must then create a different class for them, while the Orthodox Christian students are educated in the tenets of their religion.
The STE ruled that the reform of the previous government did not aspire to the development of students’ Orthodox Christian consciences and did not comprise a comprehensive teaching of the dogmas, traditions and moral values of the Orthodox Christian Church.
The reform has been now ruled unconstitutional for this reason. This will most likely re-establish the traditional way in which religious classes were taught in the country, before the 2017 reform.