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Thursday, February 02, 2012

News releases:  2/2/2012  |  3/25/2010

Spain abandons anti-Christian classes

Mandatory public, private school classes with graphic, church-bashing content caused public outcry, lawsuit
Thursday, February 02, 2012

ADF attorney sound bite:  Roger Kiska

MADRID, Spain — After a widespread public outcry, including a lawsuit filed with the European Court of Human Rights by the Alliance Defense Fund and Professionals for Ethics, Spain has decided to abandon a compulsory, anti-Christian education course for the country’s public and private school students.

“The state should respect the right of parents to raise children according to their beliefs. Spain is rightly respecting basic human rights by abandoning a class that forced students to participate in values training contrary to their convictions,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska, who is based in Europe.

Thousands of lawsuits had been filed opposing the agenda of the “Education in Citizenship” classes, which promoted a leftist stance on crucial social issues such as sexuality and abortion. ADF and Professionals for Ethics filed the only suit at the European Court of Human Rights, Europe’s highest court. Included in that suit, Bejarano v. Spain, are more than 300 Spanish parents and children, including 105 children from both public and private schools in several Spanish regions.

Since 2007, more than 54,000 parents had registered complaints with Spain’s government over the four-course program, which featured recommended materials that openly bash the Catholic Church and contain highly sexual imagery. The class was mandatory for 10- to 16-year-old students attending Spain’s public and private schools. Spain’s new minister of education, Jose Ignacio Wert, has now decided to replace the class with a new class on European Union institutions and Spain’s Constitution.

Parents and pro-family organizations had 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 continued to be taught until now.

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

“This is not just a victory for Spain but for the watching world as well,” said Kiska. “Many American parents, for example, would be dismayed to know that activist organizations in the U.S. actively seek to persuade school districts to use similar types of curriculum. If the Spanish government had continued this instruction, it would only have emboldened arguments that the U.S. should follow suit.”

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 five 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.