NGO against marking of St. Sava's Day in schools

The Movement for Enlightened Society NGO has said that the marking of St. Sava's Day as the patron saint day of schools "violates the principle of secularity."

Source: B92, Beta

They also asked if the feast was "meant for all students or only for those of Orthodox faith."

The NGO also protested over Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) priests taking an active part in school celebrations, "with prayers and inappropriate sermons, and performance of religious rituals," in this way "additionally stressing the religious importance of the holiday."

"By celebrating patron saint day of schools as a religious holiday, the Constitution of Serbia is being directly violated in Article 11 that mandates the separation of churches and religious communities and the state," said a statement.

The NGO, which earlier this month criticized President Tomislav Nikolic for sending his Christmas message and taking part in Christmas rituals held at the presidency building as "impermissible abuse of the holiday and violation of the Constitution," reminded headmasters of state schools and "responsible persons in the government" that there are members of other religions, "as well as atheists," among schoolchildren and their parents and teachers.

According to the statement, they are denied the right to celebrate St. Sava's Day as "a true school holiday open to everyone, regardless of their religious and ethnic orientation."

St. Sava was born in 1175 as Rastko Nemanjic, the son of Serbian Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja. He was the first head of the autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church, and the author of Serbia's first Constitution, as well as a diplomat and writer who had great influence on the medieval Serbian literature.

St. Sava is the patron saint of schools and students and his death on January 27, 1236 is marked as St. Sava's Day in schools in Serbia.


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