NGOs Call for Global Separation of Church and State

Washington, DC—Last 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 Argentina’s schools. If upheld, religious education will no longer be restricted to extracurricular hours, nor will it require parental permission—nor will it need to be conducted by a particularly credentialed instructor.

SPI and its coalition members authored a letter to President Cristina Fernández 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 couldn’t be more telling. This month, the Pope is headed to Philadelphia, after which, he’ll address a joint session of America’s own Congress.

“We have intel that President Kirchner had several clandestine meetings with the Pope before allowing this bill to pass,” spoke Edwina Rogers, SPI CEO and 20-year policy expert. “He is currently embarking on a world tour, and it is clear that his influence has already made a new mark in several countries.”

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 that’s 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.

“We envision a global society that is safe and secure for people of all religious persuasions—even of none,” added Ms. Rogers.

If you wish to add the name of your organization to the list of signatories on any one of SPI’s Advocacy Campaigns, please act immediately by emailing edwina@secularpolicyinstitute.net.

CONTACT: Madeline Schussel, SPI Policy Director, at madeline@secularpolicyinstitute.net, or Edwina Rogers at (202) 430-1888.