03-27-2009, 11:59 AM
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Over here, religious education is a part of curriculum in public schools. But have to say that as to religion, we're pretty homogenous folk. Almost 80% of Finnish people are members of the Evangelical Lutheran church and even if we have a freedom of religion here, the Evangelical Lutheran church and the Orthodox church (1,2% of people) have a special position in Finland probably because they have been so influential part of our society during past centuries.
So if you've a member of the Evangelical Lutheran or the Orthodox church you've a right to get religious education in school (I don't know if you have to participate if you're a member of these churchs but you or your parents don't want you to participate). If you aren't a member of the Evangelical Lutheran or the Orthodox church you've a right to get nondenominational ethics education instead of religious education. On the other hand, I know that some religious groups like Moslems have grown their number of members nowdays because of exile and things like that. I don't know if they have organized some kind of religious education in schools theirself, I live in so small municipality that we haven't many Moslems or other religious groups like that. Over here. I've also heard that that there are nondenominational schools in some bigger cities.
As to the religious education in our schools, I think it's pretty neutral and objective. I don't know how Orthodoxs do, but in the Evangelical Lutheral education we learned things like history of the church, some basics of the doctrine, ethical things etc. Still, I see that things like the doctrine or ethical issues weren't given us as an absolute truth but more like 'Evangelical Lutherans think that things go like that'. Besides that we learned also other religions in the world and the religion of our ancestries (which wasn't Christianity, by the way). In comprehensive school where everybody have to learn same things these two fields were compulsory part of Evangelical Lutheran education but in upper secondary school which consists of courses and where you have bigger freedom to choose what you want to study them were speciliasation courses.
I see that kind of system works over here and hope it won't become changed in the future. On the other hand, I don't know how it would work or would there be a better system if our folk wasn't so homogenous.