Russian pupils to have choice of religion, ethics

Apparently, Russia is trying to cultivate some kind of non-selfishness in its citizens?

Medvedev said preteen students at about 12,000 schools in 18 Russian regions would take the classes. They will be offered the choice of studying the dominant Russian Orthodox religion, Islam, Buddhism or Judaism, or of taking an overview of all four faiths, or a course in secular ethics.

The offer of a choice appeared aimed to ease concerns that Russian Orthodoxy will be forced on schoolchildren as the church gains influence and tightens ties with the state.

Mandatory classes in Orthodox culture were introduced in a few Russian regions three years ago, but they alarmed adherents of other confessions who said religion has no place in schools in a secular state. The classes also were criticized as being reminiscent of the forced study of communism or scientific atheism during Soviet times, with one mandatory ideology being substituted with another.

Medvedev emphasized that the classes will include only “the largest of Russia’s traditional religions” — Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. He omitted other faiths, such as Roman Catholicism or Protestantism, which the Orthodox Church accuses of proselytizing.;_ylt=Ah6R5XXHs7Xk.MKO2CFvoic7Xs8F;_ylu=X3oDMTMwb3J2djRsBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkwNzIxL2V1X3J1c3NpYV9yZWxpZ2lvbl9jbGFzc2VzBHBvcwM3BHNlYwN5bl9wYWdpbmF0ZV9zdW1tYXJ5X2xpc3QEc2xrA3J1c3NpYW5wdXBpbA–

Well, I suppose I’d rather they choose to be instructed in Russian Orthodoxy over secular ethics or Protestantism, so… yeah. Interesting stuff.

It’s better than the USSR’s state atheism. I, for one, am happy.


Yeah, but the problem is after a good course in religion possibly, when history is next on the students’ agenda and they find the lesson from Vladimir Putin’s approved history texts to be: Stalin accomplished great things for the people of Russia, and America has always been against peaceful Russian policy throughout the centuries. It is one thing to learn of religion; it is much confused when one then learns of the heroic deeds of an atheist terrorist leader Stalin who massacred tens of millions of the empire’s citizens with little word of killings, famine or the K.G.B.

I note a journalist associated with Memorial, an organization dedicated to the memory of the millions persecuted under the Soviet regime, has been murdered in Chechnya recently. Even the offices of Memorial with eyewitness testimony of prisoners of conscience and their families’ sufferings (Christians, Jews) have been raided by Putin’s K.G.B. Prominent Western Russia scholar Orlando Figes who chronicled these peoples’ suffering has had his work banned in Russia.

So it’s a classic Russian paradox of propounding Orthodoxy as a state religion on the one hand (where Christians prevail), and then propounding the goodness of Stalin and Putin’s K.G.B. on the other. Maybe Nicolas Berdyaev would understand.

And further, the attempts to instruct Russian history in Orwellian fashion as commented upon by world-renowned historian of Russia, Robert Service:

President Dmitry Medvedev recently announced the setting up of a commission to counter the falsification of history. He said this was becoming increasingly “severe, evil, and aggressive.” “This is absolute poppycock,” says Robert Service, professor of Russian History at Oxford University. “History is all about argument. There is no absolute historical truth about anything big in history.”

Mr Service dismisses the Russian leader’s suggestion that his country is facing some kind of academic aggression. Instead, he sees a desire to dominate, worthy of the most repressive totalitarian regimes of fiction. “President Medvedev, following in the path of his predecessor President [Vladimir] Putin, wants to control history,” he says. “And he wants to control history as a means of controlling the present. This is the classic George Orwell scenario.”

This is what appears to anger today’s Russian historical establishment: accounts of Red Army crimes on the march to Berlin; assertions by the Baltic countries and others in Eastern Europe that Soviet forces came as occupiers as much as liberators; any suggestion that Stalin’s Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were anything but complete opposites and bitter enemies.

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