The longer I live in Berlin, the more pleasantly surprised I am by how sensible and enlightened some of the laws are in this town. In 2006, following years of debate, Berlin mandated Ethics be taught from 7th through 10th grade. In a pluralistic and post-religious society, it makes sense that students be given a moral framework that transcends the usual faith-based teachings. These days religion tends to be used to separate and isolate people, and in its most extreme form serves as a foundation for hatred.
There is a ballot initiative (“Initiative für ein Volksbegehren”) currently making the rounds that would force religion classes back into schools, instead of leaving people to make their religious choices at home. The Pro-Reli movement positions the argument cleverly, saying that mandated religion classes would allow everyone their choice – the various forms of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Atheism. It all sounds very open-minded, but there are several problems with it: in a multi-cultural society like Berlin the schools do not have teachers for every religion in the building – heck, they can barely find language or music teachers. The other issue is core to religion: it separates the students, and instead of finding a common ground, it spells out differences and tries to cement those.
Leave religion where it belongs: in the church, or at home.
Click HERE to read the Humanistische Union’s rebuttal on the various arguments being made by the Pro-Reli movement. In German, of course.