It is with great concern that we witnessed the Minister of Education Mr. Kyriakos Kevenezos, warranting the right to intervene in state affairs to the Church of Cyprus.
We find the Minister’s statements particularly worrying because they undermine the secular, non-dogmatic role which the educational system of a modern, European state should have; the statements blur the separation between church and state, and thus strike a blow to any attempts for modernization and secularization.
We would like to remind the incident which occurred a few months ago with regards to biology textbooks, and which caused the reaction of the Commissioner for Children’s Rights, public figures, the media and other organizations. The particular incident demonstrates the dangers lurking whenever personal convictions, religious or otherwise, are allowed to interfere with the objectivity demanded by the educational system and the scientific process. In our view, the minister’s statements increment such dangers rather than diminish them, and we feel this is in contrast to the important role education has to play in a multicultural, complex modern environment.
In our opinion, education should promote critical thinking, rationality and scientific inquiry, as well as respect towards diversity, without being discriminatory or exclusive. By contrast, it seems to us that defining education on national and religious terms creates dangerous conditions which discourage critical thinking, allow dogmatism-religious or otherwise-to creep in, and may lead to social unrest and decoherence.
We believe in order to have a future where individuals are well educated, freely thinking and emancipated from the shackles of dogmatism and ghosts of the past, it is imperative to have a clear separation between church and state.
For the reasons state above, Cyprus Free Thinkers calls upon the Ministry of Education and the government to ensure they will not allow any interference of any form that would undermine the objectivity, credibility and universality of the educational system.
On behalf of Cyprus Free Thinkers
Petros Attas, Christos Evaggelou