Author Topic: Russian church: School must teach morals  (Read 3822 times)

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Online PeterTheAleut

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Russian church: School must teach morals
« on: August 09, 2007, 01:50:05 AM »
I found this article quite interesting.  What do you think about it?

Russian church: School must teach morals


By MANSUR MIROVALEV, Associated Press Writer Wed Aug 8, 4:48 PM ET

MOSCOW - A Russian Orthodox Church spokesman said Wednesday that the country's schools should teach religious principles and moral values, and he accused some leading scientists of trying to impose the "ideology of science" on the education system.
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Father Vsevolod Chaplin was responding to a group of prominent scientists who recently protested the church's growing influence on society.

Chaplin urged teachers to instruct children not to follow the examples of "homosexuals and prostitutes."

His remarks come after 10 leading academics wrote to President Vladimir Putin last month to protest the introduction of a class on Orthodox Christian culture. The group also opposed an initiative to give universities the power to award degrees in theology.

"The scientific viewpoint cannot be a state ideology," Chaplin told journalists at a discussion between clerics and scientists. "It never made anybody happy and failed to answer fundamental questions of human existence."

The church, he said, should play a leading role in setting moral standards for youths.

"We have to show them an unhappy homosexual in his 40s and an aging prostitute," he said. "Otherwise, in 30 years our children will turn into animals influenced by the cult of glamour and debauchery."

The Russian church has experienced a revival since the collapse of the officially atheist Soviet Union in 1991. It now claims more than 27,000 parishes and 700 monasteries throughout the former U.S.S.R.

Government and religion are separated under Russia's post-Soviet constitution, but some Russians atheists claim that religious symbolism is as omnipresent and oppressive as atheism was during Soviet times.

An outspoken Orthodox cleric at Wednesday's conference called on the government to exercise more control over religious affairs and help the church fight superstitions spread on its behalf by poorly educated priests.

"We are ready to put part of our life under government control," said theology professor Andrei Kuraev. "The church has been living without censorship for too long."

The revival of the Orthodox church's centuries-old ties to the state, meanwhile, have prompted concern among religious minorities and scientists.

"Education of schoolchildren should be based on teaching scientifically proven knowledge," said Andrei Vorobyev, a leading medical researcher and one of the authors of the letter to Putin. "Interference of the church in government affairs (has) always been deplorable in Russian history."

Administrators at dozens of Russian schools say the class on Orthodox Christian culture will be taught in the new academic year, but attendance will be voluntary.
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Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2007, 09:06:45 AM »
"Education of schoolchildren should be based on teaching scientifically proven knowledge," said Andrei Vorobyev, a leading medical researcher and one of the authors of the letter to Putin. "Interference of the church in government affairs (has) always been deplorable in Russian history."
Yes, heartily agreed. Schools ought not teach morals; that should be the realm of parents and the Church. We do need to keep order in a classroom in order for learning to take place, so yes, we teach the children not to hit each other and not to interrupt and such things. These are moral values, granted--but things like homosexuality and prostitution are not our concern. We can certainly teach them about sexually transmitted diseases and about how not to judge people or make sexist remarks (especially when it comes to derogatory terms like f*g and b**ch)--but trying to influence them one way or the other is simply outside the role of the school.

Granted, this opinion is based only on a knowledge of American schools; I have no experience with Russian schools, but I'm inclined to be on the side of the scientists on this one.
"It is remarkable that what we call the world...in what professes to be true...will allow in one man no blemishes, and in another no virtue."--Charles Dickens

Offline TinaG

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2007, 09:17:24 AM »
I found this article quite interesting.  What do you think about it?

Russian church: School must teach morals

An outspoken Orthodox cleric at Wednesday's conference called on the government to exercise more control over religious affairs and help the church fight superstitions spread on its behalf by poorly educated priests.

"We are ready to put part of our life under government control," said theology professor Andrei Kuraev. "The church has been living without censorship for too long."


I'm not sure what this means exactly, but it doesn't sound good for either the Church , or possibly it's just an invitation for more religious control over non-Orthodox groups.  Anyone more knowledgeable care to speculate on this statement?
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2007, 02:34:07 PM »
I think this whole issue (including in America) is a red herring. It is largely based on the false presupposition that people must get their morality from religion, and so if they cannot teach religion in the schools then neither can they teach morality. But as Paul said:

"...for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them..." - Rom. 2:14-15

Even an atheist, according to the Bible, should have morality written on his heart. You don't need a holy book to tell you that murder is a bad thing.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2007, 02:35:14 PM by Asteriktos »
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2007, 01:05:34 AM »
An outspoken Orthodox cleric at Wednesday's conference called on the government to exercise more control over religious affairs and help the church fight superstitions spread on its behalf by poorly educated priests.

"We are ready to put part of our life under government control," said theology professor Andrei Kuraev. "The church has been living without censorship for too long."

And if Russia should revert back to a totolitarian dictatorship under Putin and his cronies, what will become of Orthodoxy there if it is joined at the hip with the state? 
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Offline curiosus

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2007, 04:06:54 PM »
And if Russia should revert back to a totolitarian dictatorship under Putin and his cronies, what will become of Orthodoxy there if it is joined at the hip with the state? 
I think you should know first what are you talking about. I am living in Russia and don't see no "totalitarian dictatorship" around. And the statement by Dn Andrei Kuraev was distorted, as usual by American reporter. You can read the whole story here: http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=3450.
And as for the censorship, I think there should be the church censorship. You even have no idea, how many bad books were published since 1991. Books, that spread terrible superstitions, and false doctrines in the guise of Orthodox teaching. But your never were in our parish bookstores, and nonetheless very boldly judge us from overseas.
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Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2007, 06:13:32 PM »
First of all, welcome to the forum. It's good to have a Russian voice on this matter.

No, I've never been to Russia, and I haven't seen the state of your schools or churches. I said as much on my post earlier this month. I admit that my opinion on this matter is from a very Western point of view. In the United States, most believe that the benefits of free speech and free press outwiegh any harm that could come from people writing things that are untrue or misleading, and that it is up to the reader to decide what is true and what is untrue.

I am interested to hear about these "bad books." It seems to me that you are saying that the books the church wants to ban have been sold in the parish bookstores. Is this true? And if so, what sort of doctrines have they been preaching, and how far-reaching is their effect? Thank you in advance.
"It is remarkable that what we call the world...in what professes to be true...will allow in one man no blemishes, and in another no virtue."--Charles Dickens

Offline Νεκτάριος

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2007, 11:26:10 PM »
Quote
I am living in Russia and don't see no "totalitarian dictatorship" around.

Oh that's right, it is сувернная демотратия.  Those silly Westerners that mistake slews of dead journalists, a highly corrupt police force, Litvenyenko's death, re-nationalisation of energy and defense companies, state control of most mass media and such as undemocratic.  We can only dream of such freedom here in the West.   

Quote
No, I've never been to Russia, and I haven't seen the state of your schools or churches.

Been there.  Been to too many of their churches / museums.  Even attended a semester of school there. 

There really is a moral / ethical crisis in Russia, but considering how irrelevant the Orthodox Church is I don't think anybody is listening to it other than a tiny handful of the populace.   

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2007, 12:48:59 AM »
And as for the censorship, I think there should be the church censorship. You even have no idea, how many bad books were published since 1991. Books, that spread terrible superstitions, and false doctrines in the guise of Orthodox teaching. But your never were in our parish bookstores, and nonetheless very boldly judge us from overseas.
I get kinda worried, though, when I hear tell, as I did a few years ago, that a Russian bishop called for the censorship and even destruction of books written by such authors as Frs. Alexander Schmemann, Paul Meyendorff, and Alexander Men.  I know that these authors are somewhat unpopular among Orthodox traditionalists, but the censorship and destruction of their works strikes me as rather xenophobic and tyrannical.
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Offline curiosus

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2007, 04:36:58 AM »
I get kinda worried, though, when I hear tell, as I did a few years ago, that a Russian bishop called for the censorship and even destruction of books written by such authors as Frs. Alexander Schmemann, Paul Meyendorff, and Alexander Men.  I know that these authors are somewhat unpopular among Orthodox traditionalists, but the censorship and destruction of their works strikes me as rather xenophobic and tyrannical.
I've heard too about those shameful actions, and it must be said, that the same ignorant monks, who are spreading the superstitions of all sorts and write brochures about forthcoming end of the world and the new passports as a mark of Antichrist are behind of it.
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Offline curiosus

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2007, 04:59:22 AM »
First of all, welcome to the forum. It's good to have a Russian voice on this matter.

No, I've never been to Russia, and I haven't seen the state of your schools or churches. I said as much on my post earlier this month. I admit that my opinion on this matter is from a very Western point of view. In the United States, most believe that the benefits of free speech and free press outwiegh any harm that could come from people writing things that are untrue or misleading, and that it is up to the reader to decide what is true and what is untrue.

I am interested to hear about these "bad books." It seems to me that you are saying that the books the church wants to ban have been sold in the parish bookstores. Is this true? And if so, what sort of doctrines have they been preaching, and how far-reaching is their effect? Thank you in advance.
Along with books where ancient folk superstitions are presented as Orthodox teaching, I could mention books where authors are trying to convince readers that the cruel tyrant tsar Ivan the Terrible was a saint, or demanding to glorify as a saint  the "elder" Grigorii Rasputin. And because of the lack of church discipline and church education, yes, those books are rather widely spread. I assure you, that not the books by Fr A Schmeman or Fr John Meyendorff Dn Andrey Kuraev bore in mind when speaking about the necessity of the censorship of the sort. 
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Offline curiosus

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2007, 05:40:40 AM »
Oh that's right, it is сувернная демотратия.  Those silly Westerners that mistake slews of dead journalists, a highly corrupt police force, Litvenyenko's death, re-nationalisation of energy and defense companies, state control of most mass media and such as undemocratic.  We can only dream of such freedom here in the West.   

Been there.  Been to too many of their churches / museums.  Even attended a semester of school there. 

There really is a moral / ethical crisis in Russia, but considering how irrelevant the Orthodox Church is I don't think anybody is listening to it other than a tiny handful of the populace.   
There is no slews of dead journalists, and I heard in the news today, that all persons concerned with the murder of Anna Politkovskaya are arrested, and Litvinyenko's death is a very unclear case for me. In the re-nationalization of stolen state property I see nothing wrong. Here is the list of the biggest petroleum companies, all of them are in state property: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_companies. And the high corruption of the police force is a consequence of the same moral/ethical crisis, and I see no other way to repair it as a propagation of the Christianity, at schools in particular.  Here is a fragment of the letter sent to me from the US:
It is now a crime to call sin a sin in the United States.

I saw a picture of a man in shackles in Massachusetts...a nice middle
class man...who protested his young daughter having to learn how
homosexuals engage in sex, in her health class in public school.  He
was arrested for a hate crime.

I'd say the liberty of that sort is wholly unacceptable for me.
Sincerely, prszeklęty moskal.

« Last Edit: August 27, 2007, 01:29:15 PM by curiosus »
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Offline Νεκτάριος

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2007, 04:04:05 AM »
Quote
There is no slews of dead journalists, and I heard in the news today, that all persons concerned with the murder of Anna Politkovskaya are arrested

The Politkovskaya affair is hardly settled.  It really remains to be seen what will happen with these arrests.  And most likely the actual forces behind her murder will remain unscathed in all of this. 

Eitherway Politkovskaya is hardly the only journalist to either face threats, actual violence and even death.  It isn't for nothing that international agencies consistently rank Russia has having little freedom of the press.  It is really only a handful of newspapers that operate freely in Russia today. 

Quote
In the re-nationalization of stolen state property I see nothing wrong.

This really gets to the heart of the problem in Russian society.  To be succesful is wrong and it is entirely acceptable to use any means to go after whatever the kulak of the day is.

Quote
And the high corruption of the police force is a consequence of the same moral/ethical crisis, and I see no other way to repair it as a propagation of the Christianity, at schools in particular.

Honestly, what gives the Orthodox church in Russia any moral authority?  The intelligentsia reject it for it's selling out to communism and now nationalsim.  Even the general populace doesn't seem that thrilled with a whopping 1% attending Sunday liturgy.  And does it really have to be the church in order to teach people that it is ok to not be criminials, it is ok to not be a drunkard etc.  Of course these problems were endemic even from tsarist times to Russia.  Even when the Orthodox church had a fairly free hand, Gogol and Dostoevsky dramatically exposed the moral rot in Russian society - so if the church failed then, why will it work today?

Quote
I saw a picture of a man in shackles in Massachusetts...a nice middle
class man...who protested his young daughter having to learn how
homosexuals engage in sex, in her health class in public school.  He
was arrested for a hate crime.

I have yet to run across this story, so I honestly have no idea of what happened.  But from my own experience in school, such classes are always optional (in my case, my parents had to sign forms allowing me to participate). 

What likely is the case here is that someone couldn't act like an adult and threw a temper tantrum at the school office.  He possibly threatened administrators and teachers, called them offensive things etc.  Now he wants to vindicate his unchristian actions by pretending he is suffering for righteousness.  One doesn't get arrested for politely asking if an alternative activity for one day can be found for one's child. 
   
The great irony in this is that American "Red States" are some of the most socially conservative places in the industrialized world.  For instance, is there such a thing as a dry county in Russia...

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2007, 09:12:46 AM »
Hi and welcome, brother Curiosus!

I grew up in the former USSR (Ukraine, mostly, but also three years of graduate school in Moscow).

Sad story about this junk being published... I know, it's the same in Ukraine, lots of books and journal articles with all sorts of superstitions ("zabobony" in Ukrainian, "sueverja" in Russian), some of them sold as allegedly "Orthodox."

Enjoy yourself on this forum, it's a nice place.

Heorhij/George :)
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Offline curiosus

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2007, 11:42:35 AM »

 To be succesful is wrong and it is entirely acceptable to use any means to go after whatever the kulak of the day is.
To be successful thief is wrong everywhere, IMHO, even if you stole billions. Hey, man, you have no need to tell me how my country is ill. I know it better than you can imagine. But, seems to me, it makes you too happy. Hey, man, never rejoice at your neighbour's disaster. When I registered at the forum, my intention was to know more about Orthodoxy in the West, not to argue with the men, blinded by hatred. So I quit the discussion.
 
Sincerely, prszeklęty moskal.
 
« Last Edit: August 28, 2007, 11:49:31 AM by curiosus »
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Offline curiosus

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Re: Russian church: School must teach morals
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2007, 11:59:25 AM »

Hi, Heorhij, thank you. It's really sad story. But it can't be helped. Everyone can write today, faster even than to think, and you can print whatever you want.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2007, 11:59:56 AM by curiosus »
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