Bible in schools in Abkhazia
In Abkhazia, the Minister of Education offered to start studying the Holy Scriptures and Orthodoxy in schools – and received a wave of criticism in response. He was reminded of the legal equality of all faiths and the ban on teaching religion to minors against their will and without the consent of their parents. The minister was also briefed on many other important issues in the education system that require urgent solutions.
On the morning of October 26, Minister of Education Inal Gablia said at the official enrollment ceremony for students at the theological school in Sukhum that “the schools of Abkhazia are ready to accept the Holy Scriptures in the program”.
“It is not a requirement of the time. It is our duty as an Orthodox people, as a people who live in the sacred ground where the apostles of Jesus Christ preached. Our task is to bring this knowledge to the masses, to the younger generation, so that they get used to it already at school, ”said the minister and cited as an example Belarus, where, according to him, the Bible is studied in schools.
Social media immediately exploded with a wave of criticism and outrage. Even loyal government supporters have spoken of the dismissal of Inal Gablia.
“Children should be taught laws, basics of trade and finance,” in the words of Abkhazian politician Adgur Lagvilava. He also suggested devoting part of the school day to familiarizing children with traditional Abkhazian values, for example the Apsuara code of honor.
“I want to remind the Minister of Education that Abkhazia is a secular country and all religions are equal in our country. There are separate educational institutions for religious education. Belarus has a good computer background – this is where you need to take an example. Children need to have knowledge and skills that will help them realize their potential in the future. And an educated person will deal with religious beliefs one way or another, without your intervention,” Lagvilava wrote.
“The Minister of Education is the problem in Abkhaz education”
The quote above is from Abkhazian blogger Tengiz Jopua.
“This person does not have an elementary idea of the differences between the scientific worldview and the religious worldview and their role in the formation of human personality. He sees no difference between the secular state and the Church. It preaches the monopolization of one confession in a multi-confessional social environment. I have nothing against theology, but let it stay out of the education system with our minister,” Jopua said.
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Inal Gablia is the youngest and probably the most criticized member of the government of Abkhazia. He took office at the age of 28, having absolutely no experience in the field. It is said that this happened because his father is friends with President Aslan Bzhaniya.
On the evening of October 26, the press service of the Ministry of Education, assessing the extremely sharp and violent reaction of society, published the minister’s statement. According to the new interpretation, it was only “an optional course that could provide an opportunity to become familiar with the moral and ethical standards of Orthodoxy.”
Abkhazian journalist Eleonora Giloyan
In Abkhazia, the official rest days are Christian, Muslim and pagan holidays. I am Armenian, baptized in the Orthodox Church, and I dream of having a full-fledged mosque in our country. I rejoice that Catholics have their own house. And when I see Buddhists, I smile.
This is how Abkhazia brought me up. And I appreciate it, because I know that elsewhere it’s not like that.
For a few months I lived and studied in Yerevan, in an ordinary Armenian school where children read the Bible. Of the thirty children in the class, all were Armenian by nationality and Christian. We are talking about families where mothers and fathers, and grandmothers and grandfathers have the same identity. Exceptions are rare.
In 2015, Armenia amended the Constitution and removed the phrase that “the Republic of Armenia is a secular state”. In Article 18 of the Constitution, Armenia recognizes the special mission of the Armenian Apostolic Church and “distinguishes it among other religious organizations”.
The first thing my Armenian parents ask me in Armenia is if my husband is a Christian and where he was baptized. And they are sincerely upset that he adheres to the traditional Abkhazian religion, that he is not baptized and that he does not plan to do so.
Abkhazia is another story. We must be different. That’s how it was supposed to be. There is depth, strength and even security in that.
Bible in schools in Abkhazia
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