Posted 4 марта 2021,, 08:34

Published 4 марта 2021,, 08:34

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Do you want Orthodox Communion or Namaz? Religious customs come to schools contrary to the law

Do you want Orthodox Communion or Namaz? Religious customs come to schools contrary to the law

4 марта 2021, 08:34
In Russia, several scandals erupted at once related to the religious rituals in schools. Why has exactly the school turned into a place of interreligious conflicts lately?

And why does the law "On freedom of conscience and on religious associations" not help to establish a dialogue between the representatives of different confessions of faith?

Irina Mishina

The case in a secondary school in the Chelyabinsk region became quite resonant. The sons of the imam of the local mosque, Raisa Sultanov, were forced to change several schools due to the fact that, according to their parents, they were infringed upon in their religion.

It all started with an art lesson: the children were given the task to draw Easter eggs. Instead, one of the imam's sons painted a mosque. Following this, at a literary reading lesson, the children were given the task to learn the poem by Apollo Maikov "Christ is Risen!" This caused confusion in the Muslim family, and in the end the mother of the boys was called to school.

“The director told me: “Why are you breaking our rules? You live with us". To this I objected that not only we, but also our ancestors were born and lived in Russia”, - says the wife of Imam Farzan Sultanov.

After this conversation, the children of the imam began to be ignored at school. A wall of alienation has emerged. Parents were forced to transfer their sons to another school. But over time, there was a conflict. Boys, who were ordered by the Koran to perform namaz 5 times a day, performed this rite at the allotted time right at school. This caused outrage among the administration. “We were told: “Let them pray at home, just not at school”, - says Farzana Sultanova.

She claims that her sons did not interfere with anyone and performed the ceremony under the stairs. The children of the imam again ceased to be noticed, and soon at the OBZH lesson they were shown a film in which Islam was presented in a negative light. This was the last straw, and the imam's family turned to a lawyer from Kazan with a request to protect their honor and dignity.

“We have made a complaint addressed to the prosecutor of the town of Plast, Chelyabinsk region. We are not against Orthodoxy, but we believe that it is unacceptable to impose another faith on people. The Constitution of Russia says that we have a multinational state, that Kazakhs, Bashkirs, Tatars and other peoples live in the Chelyabinsk region, whose ancestors also defended the country”, - said lawyer Ruslan Nagiyev.

This incident has sparked controversy among historians, legal scholars and religious leaders.

“In my opinion, the headmaster showed a lack of wisdom and flexibility. Orthodoxy presupposes tolerance, but in this case we did not see that. What is wrong with the fact that Muslims perform their religious rite at the right time, without disturbing anyone, in a secluded place? Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov liked to set Muslims as an example for Orthodox Christians, who perform namaz 5 times a day, while Orthodox Christians are often too lazy to pray, " Church historian, Doctor of Historical Sciences Sergey Bychkov told Novye Izvestia.

Article 3 of the Federal Law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religion" states:

“The Russian Federation guarantees freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, including the right to profess, individually or jointly with others, any religion or not to profess any religion, to perform services, other religious rites and ceremonies, to carry out religious education and religious education, to freely choose and change, have and disseminate and act in accordance with religious and other beliefs".

That is, according to this law, no one has the right to interfere with the establishment of a religious cult. However, the question arises about the appropriateness of a religious ceremony in a school, which is a secular, state institution, the purpose of which is primarily education. In addition, children of different views and beliefs study at school. Is it legitimate to regard the performance of namaz at school as an infringement on the interests of other students, as the school administration considered it?

“The fact that the school was prevented from sending the imam's children to namaz, on the one hand, can be regarded as infringement of the rights of believers. But on the other hand, there are other students of a different religion. The children of the imam claim that they performed namaz in a deserted place, under the stairs. The wisdom of the school leadership would be to provide children for prayer in a separate room, where no one would see them and they would not interfere with anyone. The practice of equipping such multi-religious prayer rooms in higher educational institutions in Russia already exists. One way or another, the school administration had to look for a solution. A ban is not an option", - Russian religious leader and writer Konstantin Bendas told Novye Izvestia.

Another question arises. Russia is a multinational state. And if representatives of each religion begin to demand special rules and conditions for themselves, this can lead to a dead end. For example, adherents of Judaism will begin to demand only kosher food, Orthodox Christians - lean food, Muslims - to go to school wearing hijabs ... Will not the educational process at school take a back seat?

“I think the claims of the Muslim family of the imam from the Chelyabinsk region are inappropriate”, - said the rector of the Holy Trinity Church in Khokhlakh, publicist and TV presenter Alexey Umansky. - Muslims know very well that not everyone can perform namaz in a given place at a given time. What about, for example, a Muslim train driver, pilot, or driver? A bearer of Islam may find himself in different conditions and circumstances that do not allow at this time and in this place to carry out a religious ceremony on a rug, facing Mecca. Many Muslim children who practice Islam study in general education schools, and they feel fine without performing namaz. If regular prayer for children from this family is so necessary, it is probably worth considering choosing an Islamic school. As for the reading of the poem by Apollo Maikov - if it is included in the official program, then everyone must go through it. But if this is a personal initiative of the teacher, then this is at least strange. Also with drawing Easter eggs. If the teacher knew that representatives of different religions were studying in the class, this topic was not worth asking. The school is a secular institution; it does not imply any religious rites at all. This violates, in my opinion, the secular nature of education. Russia is a predominantly Orthodox country, and at the request of all parents, they can probably invite an Orthodox priest to the class, but the question is: why? After all, among the children there are probably simply non-believers”, - says Aleksey Uminsky.

However, the invitation of an Orthodox priest, even with the consent of the parents of the entire class, can turn into a state of emergency on a regional scale. In the Voronezh region, a trial has begun on the claim of Protestant pastor Alexey Perov against a secondary school in connection with the compulsion of his son to participate in Orthodox rituals. According to the director of the school, the Orthodox priest consecrated the class by the decision of the parents' meeting. During this Orthodox ceremony, a boy from a Protestant family was unable to be baptized correctly. For this, according to him, he was punished by his peers: they pushed him and offended him at recess. The boy's parents drew up a statement of claim for moral damage, valuing it at 240 thousand rubles. The principal of the school and the teacher are the defendants. The story about this, shown on the NTV channel, caused a storm of emotions.

The Orthodox priest who performed the rite of "consecration of the class" said: "This is OUR state, and we will defend it". However, the prosecutor's inspection found that the school violated the Education Act. The director of the educational institution was reprimanded.

The case in Voronezh is not the only one. Currently, more than a thousand administrative cases on violation of freedom of conscience and religion are under consideration. So where is the line of the law? When does it become an offense to conduct a religious ceremony in a school?

“An Orthodox priest from the Voronezh region, in my opinion, violated the federal law on freedom of conscience and religion. This law speaks of the inadmissibility of holding religious ceremonies in state and educational institutions. This is possible outside the educational process, without attracting funds from an educational institution and with the consent of parents or legal representatives of schoolchildren. The school teaches the Fundamentals of Religion and Secular Ethics - ORKSE. Within the framework of this subject, students by choice can study both the basics of Orthodoxy and the basics of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, depending on their faith. And no one has the right to force anyone to do anything. Unfortunately, many teachers are guided by the principle of a priest from Voronezh, who said: "This is our state." Religion is not a state, it is separated from it in Russia, and it is wrong and very dangerous to identify it with the state. Unfortunately, not all teachers understand this and often make mistakes. I had a case during a trip to the Golden Ring of Russia: my child, who professes the Protestant religion, like everyone else in our family, was led by a teacher to receive communion in an Orthodox church. I explained to her that it was a violation of the law. Fortunately, she understood everything and apologized”, - said Konstantin Bendas.

In addition to the Foundations of Religion and Secular Ethics included in the school curriculum, the religious theme has recently, unfortunately, begun to be exploited in other subjects. And the amendments by Deputy Yarovaya to the Federal Law "On Freedom of Conscience and on Religious Associations", unfortunately, allow it. In 2020, a bill from the Ministry of Justice was submitted to the State Duma, if adopted, religious groups will have to submit more often notifications, and clergy who studied abroad will have to undergo certification in Russia.

“According to these amendments, spreading the doctrine is something dangerous. And the film about the dangers of Islam, shown at the OBZH lesson in the Chelyabinsk region, is just in line with these amendments. The people behind these amendments, unfortunately, believe that religion should support the ideology of the state, otherwise it should be marginalized. This is the vector of the current reforms of legislation on religion. Although, if you look at it, the question of faith is purely personal, it is not the task of the school, but of the family. For example, I will not allow the school to shape the worldview of my children”, - said Konstantin Bendas.

The trend of Orthodoxy as an ideology has recently become problematic and conflicting. So is it worth it so often and persistently to impose it at school? After all, her task is, first of all, training. And the student will not become smarter from the fact that he is sprinkled with holy water or taught to send namaz. Perhaps it is worth finally thinking about entrusting the issues of religion to the family or to religious schools created on a confessional basis? And the task of the school is to make tolerance and maintain dialogue and mutual respect between representatives of different religions.