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Even in countries where children or families have the right to opt-out from religious instruction or teaching, many are unaware of the right or are afraid to exercise it. Now, IHEU Member Organizations in Peru, Colombia and Italy have launched social campaigns to inform non-religious parents that they have this right – and how they can enforce it.

The “Opt-out Peru” campaign

The logo of APERAT

On 19 February the Peruvian Association of Atheists (APERAT) has launched a campaign named Exonérate Peru (“Opt-out Peru”). APERAT’s campaign is supported by two other IHEU Member Organizations, the Secular Humanist Society of Peru and the Freethinkers Association of Arequipa.

APERAT has launched this informative video on its Facebook page and YouTube channel:

Spot informativo sobre el procedimiento para Exonerarse del Curso de Religión en colegios públicos y privados.

Para más información visita y usa el aplicativo web que genera el documento que puedes imprimir y presentar en el colegio.
#Exonérate #Laicismo #EstadoLaico #Matricula #Curso #Religión

Posted by ASOCIACION PERUANA DE ATEOS (APERAT) on Monday, 19 February 2018

The video shows two parents (a Jehovah’s Witness and a non-believer) who both protest against the fact that their children has to follow a Catholic syllabus in schools. The video then provides information to the parents about the current legislation in Peru and the legal procedures to opt-out their children from the religious reaching.

Henry Llanos Chile, President of Aperat

The President of APERAT, Henry Llanos Chilet, explained why its organization decided to launch this campaign:

“Since 2011 it is possible for children to opt-out from the class of Catholic religion thanks to the decision of the Department of Interdenominational Affairs of the Peruvian Ministry of Justice – a department led by an Evangelical majority.

“However, the problem is far from being resolved: the teaching of the Catholic religion is still part of the national curriculum, in accordance with article 19 of the 1980 Concordat signed by the dictator Morales-Bermúdez with the Vatican; teachers of religion don’t need the professional pedagogy diploma, as required instead to all others professors; and often, when parents want to opt-out their sons from the religious teaching, schools interpose illegal obstacles to prevent them from doing it.

“Facing this unjust situation, APERAT started a big campaign to inform Peruvian parents that they can choose to opt-out their children from the teaching of Catholic religion, in accordance with article 8 of law 29635, which is the current law on religious freedom.”

The website provides the simple 4-step procedure to opt-out.

A campaign to respect secularism in Colombian schools

The campaign of Bogotà Atea

Other IHEU Member Organizations around the world are running similar campaigns to defend the right of the child to freedom of religion or belief.

In Colombia, Bogotà Atea is running a campaign called #RespetoAlEstadoLaico (“Respect the secular State”).

Indeed, the Catholic Church in Colombia systematically violates the secular constitution by organising masses in both private and public schools, despite Constitutional Court decisions against this practice.

The campaign is meant to defend the separation of Church and State and to protest against the imposition of religious views on children in schools, reminding parents that children can opt-out from all religious teaching and masses in schools.

The “Can I choose” campaign: censored in Italy

UAAR’s censored banner

With similar intents the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR) launched a campaign called “Posso scegliere da grande?” (“Can I choose when I grow up?”).

The main image of the campaign (right) shows a list of beliefs (Catholic, Atheist, Agnostic, Orthodox, Muslim, etc.) and in the middle the face of Sara, a baby who asks if she can decide when she grows up.

However, the campaign, which went live with advertisements and flyers in 54 Italian cities, has been censored from public transport in Milan.

“Excellent initiatives by IHEU Members”

Bob Churchill, IHEU Director of Communications and Campaigns, said:

“These are excellent initiatives by IHEU members, which we hope will raise debate and most importantly: raise awareness.

“Whether demanding that our rights are represented in law, or raising public awareness that this right already exists, it is extremely important that no student should be compelled to take part in religious instruction. All states should respect the right of the child to develop their own views on life’s big questions, and schools can best enable this with broad and balanced curricula, introducing students to the history of beliefs and ideas, not by immersing them in a single tradition and inculcating belief.”

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