Greece’s Council of State came up with a new ruling on Tuesday (local time) deeming the changes made by former education minister Nikos Filis in religion lessons unconstitutional, opposing “Article 16 of the Constitution, which states that education is a basic mission of the state, and among its aims is the development of national and religious consciousness”.
The former decision has been revised following an appeal by the Holy Metropolis of Piraeus and other institutions questioning the former education minister’s actions which were considered to contradict the basic principles of the European Convention of Human Rights.
According to decision 660 of 2018 published by the plenary of Greece’s highest administration court chaired by the President of the Council of State, Nikos Sakellariou and State Counselor Efthymios Antonopoulos the changes to the schools’ curriculum introduced under Filis’ ministerial decision are annulled for fear they would affect the sensitive mentality of the young pupils leading to their diversion from the Christian Orthodox consciousness and endangerment of critical perception.
The religion classes are to go back to the old books and curriculum taught prior to Filis’ changes. The decision will be effective immediately for primary and secondary schools; the appeal for high school is still pending.
Moreover, the court ruled that the former minister’s changes are also contrary to Article 13 of the Constitution, which enshrines the freedom of religious consciousness to be inviolable, targeting exclusively Christian Orthodox students. The teaching of religion lessons is also aimed at consolidating the Christian Orthodox faith as it is from the context of family life and the student’s environment prior to schooling.
Filis’ changes were found to directly affect the First Additional Protocol of the European Court of Human Rights depriving students of Christian Orthodox doctrine of the right to be taught exclusively the doctrines, moral values and traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ, while the law provides for Roman Catholic, Jewish and Muslim students to be taught their respective religion lessons independently.