305 parents, children sue Spain over anti-Christian education

Mandatory classes with highly sexual, church-bashing content has nation in uproar; ADF, Professionals for Ethics file suit with ECHR
Thursday, March 25, 2010

STRASBOURG, France — The Alliance Defense Fund and Professionals for Ethics filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights Friday on behalf of more than 300 parents and children challenging compulsory anti-Christian education for Spain’s public and private school students. Among those who filed suit are 105 children from both public and private schools in several Spanish regions. More than 54,000 parents registered complaints with Spain’s government and sought to have their children removed, but to no avail.

Thousands of suits have already been filed opposing the agenda of the “Education in Citizenship” classes, which promote a leftist stance on crucial social issues such as sexuality and abortion. Materials recommended through the program openly bash the Catholic Church and contain highly sexual imagery.

“The state shouldn’t usurp the right of parents to raise children according to their beliefs. Forcing students to participate in values training contrary to their convictions is a violation of basic human rights,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska, who is based in Europe. “It is not the government’s role to dictate what private and public school students should believe by imposing anti-religious views and advocating sexual libertinism, homosexual behavior, and abortion.”

Since 2007, more than 54,000 parents have registered complaints over the four-course “Education in Citizenship” program, which is mandatory for 10- to 16-year-old students attending Spain’s public and private schools. Parents and pro-family organizations have filed more than 2,200 lawsuits against the government, with an overwhelming majority of the decided cases falling in favor of parental rights; however, the same subject matter continues to be taught.

The suits argue that the compulsory nature of the objectionable classes violates the conscience rights and religious convictions of parents and students alike. Some materials covered in the classes subject students to explicit sexual images and graphic content denigrating Christianity.

“Americans should take note of this case because this sort of situation is not restricted to Spain,” said Kiska. “Many parents would be dismayed to know that there are organizations in the U.S. that have attempted to persuade school districts to use similar types of curriculum. If the Spanish government is allowed to continue this instruction, it only emboldens arguments that the U.S. should follow suit.”

The ECHR suit was filed under four articles of the European Convention of Human Rights that protect privacy, the family, and the best interests of the child (Article 8); require states to respect the right of parents to educate their children according to their own religious convictions (Protocol 1, Article 2); secure freedom of thought, conscience, and religion to prohibit social indoctrination in schools violating those liberties (Article 9); and prohibit states from discriminating against citizens based on their religious and moral convictions (Article 14).

Professionals for Ethics, a Spain-based organization that has protected Christian values in the public square since 1992, has led the battle over the “Education in Citizenship” classes for the past three years.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.