2. Youth and education

Children and adolescents are entitled to develop their capability to independently designing their lives. It is the responsibility of parents, nursery schools and schools to create the right conditions for this.

In order to develop the ability of philosophical and religious self-determination, young people need the opportunity, in accordance with their mental maturity, to hear different opinions, not just their parents' opinions.

Nursery schools and schools

Schools offer the opportunity to reach a large number of young people, to impart information and to encourage discussion. It is important to make use of this opportunity: to offer young people a variety of information on different concepts of a successful life, on desirable ways of dealing with each other and on ethics as well as information on different philosophies and religions, on different interpretations of important philosophies and religions and on the criticism of philosophies and religions. And to encourage young people to think about all these things and to talk to each other. The larger the number of different views the better. By discussing and dealing with people with different views, children and adolescents practice important skills required for living in a pluralistic society.

All this is prevented if children and adolescents are separated according to their creeds: in an elective mandatory subject range of religious/ethical education as it exists in most German Länder; and certainly in denominational schools. Instead of talking to each other they talk about each other.

Denominational schools and nursery schools are relics from the days of religious feuds. They discourage from learning how to live with, and tolerate, each other. Furthermore, confessional schools, where the confession dominates the entire curriculum, negatively affect the religious freedom of older students whose convictions have ceased to coincide with their school's denomination, for the alternative, that is, to change schools will certainly be a hardship for many of them. Therefore, denominational schools do not deserve any financial support by the state.

In state schools, there is no room for religious education that is supposed to convey the doctrines of a certain religion or denomination as "existing truth"; like the state, these schools are obliged to be religiously-philosophically neutral. This kind of religious education is out of place there just as party-political propaganda would be.

The above applies to both Christian and Islamic religious education. IBKA does not support the occasional demand for the introduction of Islamic religious education in order to counter-balance Islamic fundamentalism. Instead, IBKA proposes neutral classes in religious and philosophical theory for all students in a class. Such classes can provide alternatives to fundamentalism, too.

What IBKA demands:

The situation in Germany:

In some Länder, the violation of the philosophical-religious neutrality of the state goes particularly far: The constitutions and school laws of some Länder provide that not only religious education, but all education must be given in a Christian spirit. Particularly in the Länder of South Germany, and here extremely in primary, general secondary (Hauptschule) and special needs schools which are openly maintained as "Christian inter-denominational schools", Christian traditions continue to be institutionally embodied. In practice, the Christian inter-denominational schools have proven to be bi-denominational-ecumenical schools.

And that, even though, as early as in 1975, the Federal Constitutional Court, in varying decisions referring to Christian inter-denominational schools in the German states of Bavaria and Baden, had unambiguously held that any Christian missionary work during general classes was a violation of the German Basic Law. Hence, for instance the Bavarian ministry for education and cultural affairs quite openly violated the German Basic Law, and not for the first time, when on December 6th,1988, it announced the "guiding principles for teaching and education according to common principles of Christian denominations at primary, general secondary and special needs schools", which had been jointly prepared by the Roman-Catholic and Protestant church, and declared these binding on all teachers. The constitutional mandate to treat all citizens equally is as significantly violated by the above as by the firm grip of the main churches on the public education system. Non-religious persons and those of other confessions are thus at a clear disadvantage.

Most Länder introduced a compulsory "replacement" subject for students not attending religious education, called, for example, "Ethics" or "Values and Norms". Where religious freedom exists, there cannot be an obligation to attend religious education - and consequently, there cannot be an obligation on the part of those who do not attend religious lessons to accept an alternative. The fact that through this compulsory ethical education, children of non-Christian parents are defamed as being in need of extra tuition in morals/ethics is an absolutely wanted side-effect.

The Christian politicians responsible for the introduction of ethical education have unequivocally declared again and again, in words and in writing, that the introduction of the "replacement" subject is meant to counteract exercising a constitutional right which is most unwelcome to them, namely, the right not to attend religious education classes.

What IBKA demands for Germany:

Religious instruction should not be paid for out of the pockets of taxpayers and thus of the non-religious and those of other creeds. Religious instruction teachers in state schools should not be paid by the state. Equally improper is the state funding of their training at theological faculties and other institutions not committed to the freedom of science, research and education.

Sex education

Conflicts between religious norms and a self-determined lifestyle exist particularly in the area of sexuality. With reference to religious norms, children and adolescents are still prevented from developing their own sexuality. This happens especially where Christian, particularly Roman-Catholic, thought determines education. The right of children and adolescents to develop their own personality is severely thus restricted.

It is the responsibility of nursery schools and schools to help children and adolescents develop a self-determined sexuality by providing appropriate sex education, and that even against the parents' will, if necessary.

What IBKA demands:

Higher education

Theological faculties in state colleges and universities are as out of place as is religious education in state schools. The do not only violate the principle of philosophical-religious neutrality but also the principle of the freedom of science, research and education (Article 5 GG). Theology, in its core, is unscientific: It demands belief for its central doctrines and rejects genuinely scientific verification, i.e. an examination that does not shrink away from potential falsification. If, nevertheless, a theologian dares to examine a central doctrine with serious scientific methods and subsequently announces his/her conclusion that in his/her opinion the doctrine is incorrect, he/she must be prepared for difficulties. Thus Dr. Gerd Lüdemann, professor of theology, had to accept severe restrictions of his working possibilities University of Göttingen.

The church influence over state colleges and universities is not limited to theological faculties. In some German Länder, the churches are even entitled to participate in the appointments to professorships ("Konkordatslehrstühle" -"concordat professorships") outside the theological faculties (e. g. philosophy, educational science, sociology).

To what extent the autonomy of higher education can become a farce, is demonstrated by cases where professors were supposed to be reprimanded for their critical attitude towards the churches (examples are: Küng, Drewermann, Ranke-Heinemann, Voss and the case of the philosopher Max Bense who was reprimanded), or cases where church-orientated professors were forced on a university.

As unscientific as theology is in its core: even in theological faculties there are areas where research was or is done in compliance with scientific standards. This research deserves to be maintained and continued in church-independent disciplines (the science of history, cultural science, religious studies, psychology of religion, sociology of religion, etc.). The history of the Jewish-Christian religion is important for the understanding of European history, and therefore, it is not only of interest for followers of this religion.

What IBKA demands: