Thousands of protesters marched on Greece’s parliament Sunday in outrage over new school books they say threaten faith in the Greek Orthodox church.
The protesters, which included several Orthodox clergymen, objected to the new textbooks because they acknowledge and devote more space to other non-Orthodox Christian denominations and non-Christian religions than has been traditionally permitted in school religious instruction, according to The Associated Press. Protesters held signs saying “No To Ecumenical Religion,” and denounced the authors of the new textbooks as traitors to Greece.
The protest remained peaceful throughout the march, and protesters disbanded after delivering a petition to parliament against the new textbooks. Greece includes Greek Orthodox religious instruction in each of the 12 grades that comprise the country’s primary and secondary education systems. Students can be exempted from the religious instruction upon request, though in Greek Orthodox schools a students parents must declare that their child is not a Greek Orthodox believer for them to be eligible for exemption.
Past religious instruction textbooks in Greece have typically only given cursory, mostly negative overviews of denominations and religions outside the Orthodox Church. Greece has no religious private schools and Greek law does not currently allow for non-Greek Orthodox religious instruction in schools, except for optional Muslim instruction in Thrace and Catholic instruction in Tinos and Syros.
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