From September 2012, fundamentals of religion will be introduced as an obligatory subject in all schools of Russia. According to their own (or, probably, their parents’) choice, schoolchildren, starting from the 4th or the 5th year, will study fundamentals of Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism or Buddhism (these denominations have been officially recognized “traditional for Russia”), or a course which shortly tells about the history of all these religions. Those who will not want to study religion will be able to attend alternative classes of secular ethics.

A decree which outlines the details of teaching this new subject was recently signed by Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The initiative to introduce such a subject in schools came as long as about 10 years ago from the Russian Orthodox Church, but it was only in 2009 that this subject was introduced in schools in 19 regions of Russia as an experiment.

Since the very beginning, this idea came under criticism of quite many people in Russia – mainly, atheistically-minded ones. Their main arguments, in fact, may be reduced to two major ones. First, Russia is a secular state where no religion may be an official or obligatory ideology. Second, Russia is a state of many religions and many nationalities, and dividing people into groups according to their religion may stir national and religious hatred.

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