Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ethics vs. Religion

A contentious issue will be decided by referendum on Sunday in Berlin, Germany. Since 2006, Berlin has had a mandatory ethics course for high school students. There are also classes on religion, which are optional. Guess who objects to that situation? That's right, many religious people. They don't like the mandatory ethics course. They'd rather have students choose between ethics, and a religious class. In other words, they want a Muslim student to be able to opt out of ethics, and instead take a course on Islam, a Christian to take one on Christianity, and so forth.

Without knowing exactly what is in the ethics course, it is difficult to understand why it is so objectionable. Why shouldn't a government school be able to teach a mandatory secular ethics class? It's not discriminatory since all are required to take it. Religion isn't excluded, since classes on religion are available for those who wish to take them. In contrast, allowing students to choose a religious course for a mandatory course slot makes little sense and raises questions. What happens if the student belongs to a smaller religion that has no course available? Maybe there's a Caribbean immigrant who practices Santeria. I guess he's stuck with the ethics course instead. This sort of accommodation issue is bound to come up if the referendum passes.


  1. this is why.

    Ethics are just moral relativism, morals are absolutes from god. We can't run around giving the theists relativism!

  2. Ok, it makes perfect sense now :)