The Croatian opposition party GLAS has blasted the Government for allowing a “back door” for the Church into school textbooks.

Driving the news

GLAS party leader and whip Anka Mrak Taritaš called on Friday on the Government to make it clear once and for all that the place for religious education is in churches, not in schools.

Mrak Taritaš said that religion classes in schools go against the principle of state secularism, and that the need for a truly secular education is one of the reasons behind the GLAS push to revise Croatia’s treaties with the Vatican.

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In response to a question on notice Mrak Taritaš, the Croatian Government revealed in March 2018 that in the period 2015-2018 it spent 366.16 million kuna (just over 49 million euros) on religious primary and secondary schools and religious higher education institutions, colleges and faculties.

But this “is just a small part of the total funds which the government pays every year to officially recognised churches in Croatia, with a vast majority of funds going to the Catholic Church”, Croatian news website tportal.hr reported at the time.

Related:

Croatians demand end to “unacceptable”, “corrupt” treaties with Vatican

Why it matters

GLAS vice-president Goran Beus Richembergh recalled that after a debate last summer with Bishop of Sisak Vlado Košić, Science and Education Minister Blaženka Divjak pledged that the Church would stay away from the school system.

Despite Divjak’s promise, the Church managed to interfere and insert additions into school textbooks, which were only removed after public outcry, Richembergh explained.

“The clerics will continue to exert pressure and the minister will continue to give concessions to the Catholic Church”, the GLAS MP denounced.

“The integral curricular reform is not as it was presented to be, it opened the back door to religious content.

“It is against secular education for any religious community to introduce such content into textbooks as religious propaganda”.

For the record

The GLAS complaint over religion material in Croatian school textbooks is just the latest sign of a growing push in the country towards a more effective secularism and a revision of the country’s treaties with the Holy See.

Just last weekend, some 300 people, including presidential candidates, protested in Zagreb for an end to what they called the “non-transparent and often corrupt sharing of taxpayer money between Church institutions and politicians”.

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