At first blush you might think that this somehow relates to the USA – land of opportunity plus guns and lawyers.
I actually couldn’t believe it when I heard it but apparently a local high school just recently lost a legal case about teaching religion classes, but first a bit of background.
In Germany, since World War II, it is required that the schools teach religion. This effectively ends up being Catholic religion, Protestant religion, and ethics class. The student’s parents can make this decision until they are age 14 at which point the students can make this decision themselves.
However, the school system has been a bit more disrupted than usual in the last six months due to the pandemic. Initially at my local high school it was decided that to prevent students from mixing between classes for health safety reasons all students would be required to take ethics class. This would allow the same groups of students to remain together and to be taught by their normal teacher.
As often is the case, it is impossible to make everyone happy and despite being in the middle of a pandemic a set of parents wanted their child to take religion not ethics. To a minor degree I can understand not wanting to confuse your child with other religions or even weaken their belief by being introduced to a different religion that would cause you to question the tenants of your own religion. I really don’t think that ethics should create any problems. What are some of the topics taught in a typical ethics class.
- collaborative inquiry
- critical thinking
- introduction to faulty rationalization
- expose students to alternate viewpoints
It is conceivable that in grade school ethics is somewhat limited in the scope of what it can cover due to the age of the children.
Yet, not being from here I thought I would ask a local to see if I could get a better understanding of the situation. The parents were in effect fighting to for the right to have someone who was not a clergy member but rather someone who had been approved for teaching. In effect the students would indeed cover similar material but probably receive less thorough learning when compared to the church itself. After all, most students in Germany who take either the Catholic or Protestant classes in school already have their own church. In my church there are classes the students as well as both adult and youth bible study sessions.
In effect, the parents of this child were fighting for the right for a lessor education in a specific religious topics during a pandemic. They might not have realized this but they were increasing the circle of students that their child was exposed to which increased the chance they would bring home Covid 19.