20 March 2007, 16:56
Ban on teaching of Basic Orthodox Culture echoes the age of militant atheism – Metropolitan Kirill
Moscow, March 20, Interfax - Depriving Russian school students of their right to have access to their national spiritual culture reminds us of communist age, the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad said.
'Many citizens would regard opponents of Basic Orthodox Culture as ideological allies of that godless regime,' Metropolitan Kirill said in his letter to US Ambassador to the Russian Federation William Burns commenting the Annual Report 2006 of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The report in particular mentions that some religious communities do not agree with the suggestion of the Russian Orthodox Church to have Basic Orthodox Culture taught in schools even optionally, because they believe it will confirm but one religious tradition as a basis of Russian culture.
In his turn, Metropolitan Kirill called 'very strange' the USCIRF inattention to the fact that many Moslem, Jewish, and Buddhist leaders supported Basic Orthodox Culture, thus setting an example of 'active citizenship, which should determine any legal system as nothing else.'
It is obvious that the parents's and their children's choice in favor of learning their culture 'should be respected universally both inside and outside of Russia,' he said and noted that most Russians associate themselves with the Russian Orthodox culture.
The Church does not insist on having Basic Orthodox Culture taught by clergy, though it is important to have it taught by 'certificated professionals who love what they do,' he added.
The Church support for Basic Orthodox Culture never excludes optional, choice-based teaching of Jewish, Moslem, Buddhist and other cultures alongside with the Orthodox culture in Russian schools, the metropolitan said.
'We do not oppose these faiths' clergy to be present in the army, though the USCIRF indirectly claim that we do,' he noted.