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Teaching Religion in School in Armenia Justified Using Israel’s Example

The school subject "History of the Armenian Church" is secular; it simply aims to round out the national portrait of Armenian spirituality, said National Institute of Education representative Hasmik Margaryan during a discussion titled "Christian intercession classes in [public] schools" at the Media Center today.

Note, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has advised the Government of Armenia to review its curriculum and remove the subject on the history of religion, respecting the religious freedom of all children. RA Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan said he intends to make no such change.

"We've received no written complaints from any parent. On the contrary, we've received words of praise. After all, we are teaching a system of values. How is it that [children] in a state like Israel for 50 years have taken the subject 'Self-Identity,' which aims to identify religious and national identity? And we see with what great strides Israel moves forward," argued Margaryan. 

The other speaker at today's press conference, Armine Davtyan, who researched the issue, didn't agree that the textbooks are secular. According to her, they impose the teachings of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It even says in the textbook explanation that its purpose is to keep children away from sectarian organizations and the threat they pose.

"None of the religious organizations had a goal to enter general [public] education. Their activity is open, but they don't impose anything," said Davtyan. 

Margaryan, however, objected, saying that religious organizations operate on account of grants and even encourage evading military service. 

Facilitating the discussion, Artak Hambartsumyan asked whether Margaryan also considers the UN an organization that lives off of grants. 

"Why doesn't the UN oblige Spain and France to remove religious history [from the school curriculum]? We want the Armenian nation to continue [to exist]. What has our society come to? Today they get married; tomorrow, they don't like each other and get divorced," said Margaryan, indignant.