The estimable Prof. Friedman, on ReligionClause, reports the following bit of good news (though it is likely to ratchet-up the pressure to depose Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez).
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
New Venezuela Education Law Eliminates Religious Education In Schools
Last week Venezuela's National Assembly passed a controversial new Education Law that impacts the teaching of religion in schools. According to a Catholic News Service report yesterday: "One clause of the new law, which covers all levels of education and both public and private institutions, requires education to have a 'lay character … in all circumstances' and leaves religious education to families." According to a report Saturday in the Miami Herald, the new law "gives a major role in education to the so-called 'communal councils,' which are community assemblies mostly dominated by the ruling Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela." Opponents who say the new law gives Hugo Chavez's central government too much control over schools say they will seek a referendum to overturn the law. (Emphases supplied. W.)
Why such a remarkably rational piece of legislation should be regarded as "controversial" is an open question. It is one of the accepted functions of the State to provide the means to acculturate children in the mores of the national culture. I do not believe the State--any State--should permit (much less be the sponsor of) any form of sectarian or even generalized religious indoctrination in public schools. I subscribe to the following dictum: "Treat your 'faith' as you do your genitalia: Keep it private til somebody asks..."