It was just announced that next year Russia will be instituting a government funded pilot program to teach multiple religions in 12,000 schools (purportedly as a school subject like any other other).
They’ll be offering Christianity (Russian Orthodox flavor), Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. They’ll also offer a course in comparative religion and “secular” ethics (nice.)
There’s speculation that this is simply a push by the powerful Orthodox Church to make it mandatory for children to learn about Christianity, all under the guise of pluralism.
From the Associated Press:
The proposal is part of a Kremlin effort to teach young Russians morals in the wake of a turbulent period of uncertainty following the collapse of the officially atheist Soviet Union.
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.
Students and their parents must be allowed to choose freely, Medvedev said in addressing top clerics and officials at his residence outside Moscow. “Any coercion, pressure will be absolutely unacceptable and counterproductive,” he said.
Church and State are officially separate in Russia, but Church seems to be seeking a stronger role. Remains to be seen how this plays out.
Reminds me a little, of the Henry Ford saying about “choice” of color car. “You can have any color you want, as long as its black.” – LOL