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2013 03 13

Legal experts say compulsory religious education would run counter to Lithuanian Constitution

A proposal to introduce compulsory religious education in Lithuanian schools runs counter to the country's Constitution, experts from the Seimas Legal Department say.
Kryžius / „Reuters“/„Scanpix“ nuotr.

Their conclusions is based on a constitutional article stating that state and municipal education institutions are secular and children receive religious education only upon request of their parents.

Seimas legal experts also claim that the Constitutional Court ruled back in 2000 that "this constitutional provision presupposes a requirement that these institutions should be tolerant, open, and accessible to people of all religions as well as non-religious members of the public."

"Taking into account everything what has been stated, we believe the proposed legal regulation based on which religious education is compulsory in primary and lower-secondary schools runs counter to the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania," the Legal Department said.

Lithuanian MPs representing the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (LLRA) want to see compulsory religious education in all Lithuanian schools.

The LLRA political group in the Seimas have registered an amendment to the Law on Education, stating that "religious education is compulsory in primary and lower-secondary schools."

Under the proposal, students would be allowed to choose either traditional religious education or the subject of ethics only at the age of 14.

Currently, parents choose either of the two subjects for their children under 14 and later students choose the subject themselves.

The LLRA political group says the reason behind the bill is that "proper religious education can have a huge impact on cultivating humanity and preventing child and youth crime."

The LLRA has eight seats in the 141-seat Seimas.

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