NGOs Call for Global Separation of Church and State
Washington, DCÔÇöLast week, the Secular Policy Institute (SPI), a think-tank and advocacy organization, readied another in a slew of recent Advocacy Campaigns in support of the freedom of speech and thought throughout the world.
The current region in jeopardy? The National Congress of Argentina just passed a bill eliminating the requirement to keep religion out of public education in the country by eradicating another, longstanding law. The Law 1420 of General Common Education had survived over 100 years of occasional threats, but this recent act of Congress would dismantle the compulsory secularism of ArgentinaÔÇÖs schools. If upheld, religious education will no longer be restricted to extracurricular hours, nor will it require parental permissionÔÇönor will it need to be conducted by a particularly credentialed instructor.
SPI and its coalition members authored a letter to President Cristina Fern├índez de Kirchner, imploring her to veto the recent act and to, instead, serve as a steward of secular education.
And the timing of all this couldnÔÇÖt be more telling. This month, the Pope is headed to Philadelphia, after which, heÔÇÖll address a joint session of AmericaÔÇÖs own Congress.
ÔÇ£We have intel that President Kirchner had several clandestine meetings with the Pope before allowing this bill to pass,ÔÇØ spoke Edwina Rogers, SPI CEO and 20-year policy expert. ÔÇ£He is currently embarking on a world tour, and it is clear that his influence has already made a new mark in several countries.ÔÇØ
In Guatemala, for instance, a similar legislative measure could force all schools to teach the Bible as the ultimate source of human values. A local humanist Indiegogo page pleads for funds to help restore the separation of church and state thatÔÇÖs being annihilated. SPI and its coalition members have also spearheaded a campaign for Guatemala.
In Argentina, history has demonstrated the tangible negative consequences of giving religion authority in academic institutions. When the Catholic Nationalists took over in 1943, declaring Roman Catholicism as the only religion to be taught in school, students whose parents opted them out of morality classes were frequently bullied.
ÔÇ£We envision a global society that is safe and secure for people of all religious persuasionsÔÇöeven of none,ÔÇØ added Ms. Rogers.
CONTACT: Madeline Schussel, SPI Policy Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Edwina Rogers at (202) 430-1888.