Reader opinion School legislation discriminates against children and young people in the Church

The current model arbitrarily limits the freedoms associated with the education and civilization of Church members.

Basic and high school laws according to which a child or young person belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran or Orthodox Church cannot study life view (ET) at school. Non-members of religion, on the other hand, are free to choose their religion or ET. The law is therefore not equal but discriminates against members of the Church on the basis of religious affiliation.

In his report to Parliament (2018), the Ombudsman for Children has stated that the current model violates equality and is contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In addition to equality, the law violates religious freedom: choices related to schooling should not force anyone to resign. Yet in the current model, choosing ET requires parents to separate the child or young person from the church. This is at war with Christianity’s own values ​​as well: why should church membership and parish affiliation deny ET-elect children and youth?

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The current model also violates religious freedom because membership of a denomination should be a private matter. According to the European Court of Human Rights, freedom of religion means that the public authorities must not force anyone to express their beliefs or lack thereof, or even force them to behave in a way from which a belief can be inferred. Today, however, the school must investigate the student’s Religion so that members of the Church do not illegally choose life views. Because of the law, it is also easy to conclude that a young person attending ET classes does not belong to the church.

In addition, the current model arbitrarily limits the freedoms associated with the education and civilization of Church members. It is difficult to justify why a high school student who belongs to a church should not choose life-view information if he or she is interested in its educational content.

Unjustified restrictions on freedom also lead to practical problems.

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In many families, one parent is a Christian, the other is non-religious. One meaningful way to take into account the views of both parents in the upbringing of a child would be for the child to participate in the religious education and rituals of the church but to study life-vision information at school. However, the law prevents this.

The currently open citizens’ initiative would remedy this situation by opening up ET education to all.

Lauri Ojalehto

life vision teacher

Helsinki

Reader opinions are speeches written by HS readers, selected and delivered by HS’s editorial staff. You can leave a comment or read the principles of writing at www.hs.fi/kirjtamielipidekirjoitus/.

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