Could the EU embrace Christian education as part of diversity?
Would the Dutch education model be an export article? In many countries, Christians would be interested in the same freedom and funding.
That was one of the questions discussed by a group of school leaders together in the so-called Brussels Consideration. Each year they come together for a meeting with politicians in the European Parliament. Most of them represent schools not (totally) funded by the state.
On the one hand, (European) human rights treaties recognise the parents’ right to educate their children according to their conscience. But that does not guarantee the government’s funding of Christian schools.
The European Commission has appointed the year 2025 as the year of education. Against that background, the Brussels Consideration discussed whether this could be a time to campaign for broader recognition of financial equality, as in Article 23 of the Dutch Constitution.
“You could start to share the good practices on the European platform”, the Dutch MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen said. “And make clear that this is a form of non-discrimination as well.”
Above that, religious schools would enrich the much-praised diversity, a Scandinavian school leader added.
This campaign for equal funding of Christian schools might be challenging. The first task is to get it accepted that the freedom of education from a religious worldview also means financing. Such a debate cannot be won in the political arena but in court. “For this, you need an organisation that would help you in the legal battle, even up to the European Court of Human Rights”, one participant said.
Part of such a political and legal battle would imply questions about the safety of LGBT pupils at those schools. “That is one of the main concerns in the European Parliament at the moment”, Ruissen said. “You see this everywhere. For instance, if there is a debate about hate speech, you immediately see that the LGBT perspective is dominant. The liberal left has lost the connection with the Christian heritage.”
That makes a plea for a traditional view on marriage of sexual ethics controversial. On the other hand, Ruissen thinks that “no Christian” would favour discrimination since equality is a Christian value. “I think the concept of discrimination is misused very often. It is complicated to ask attention to discrimination if it does not directly concern sexual rights. The fact that the European Commission waited three years to appoint a special envoy for persecuted Christians illustrates that it had no priority there.”
The Croat MEP Ladislav Ilcic warned schools against the Istanbul Convention, that is recently accepted by the European Parliament. The title of this convention says that the treaty is about “violence against women”. “But in truth, it is the legal basis of the disconnection of sex and gender”, Ilcic said. Because of this, for him, it is not logical that this approach could lead to less violence.
Ilcic himself believes that “changing sex is a lie”, he stressed. “I can try to look like a woman, but I do not become a lady.”
The treaty says that member states are obliged to integrate the ideas of the Istanbul Convention into education. “Schools should be aware of that”, he warned.
Also, in other ways, he said the EU is a threat to Christian schools. “The usual idea here is that the state and NGOs know everything better. Parents are seen as not well-informed and easy to manipulate by the church. For that reason, giving the power to Europe is better.”
Ilcic showed himself to be very concerned about technology. The usual opinion about that is that technology is neutral. “You can either build a hospital with it as a concentration camp”, Ilcic summarised.
But in reality, it is far from neutral, he said. “Every new smartphone is seen as better than the previous one. And because of that, people think everything old is worthless. That is how the majority of this Parliament is dealing with history. White people are cancelled. But what will happen with Bach, Mozart and Beethoven?”
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