Guatemalan Humanist Booed at Congress over Bill on Mandatory Bible Classes

By Rigostar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Rigostar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Though Guatemala is a secular country, complete with constitutional defense in place for religious freedoms, a new bill is up that will force schools, both public and private, to teach “mandatory bible classes.”

While there are claims that this is to reduce violence and drug use, the Guatemalan Secular Humanist Association says that the legislation will require the schools have “special teachers” and chaplains that will provide spiritual guidance to the youths. In addition, students will be required to receive a passing grade in the class before they can progress to the next grade or graduate from the school. The classes will be mandatory, regardless of if the parent or child is interested in the class.

When Carlos Mendoza, the spokesperson for the group, went to Congress to speak on the reason this bill is unconstitutional, he was met with abuse, insults, booing and heckling. The group reports that their representative was ‘forcefully ejected’ after the crowd, primarily Roman Catholics and Evangelical Protestants, called out that he wanted Satan in their schools, among many other insults and claims.

The GSHA is currently fundraising to raise the funds necessary to oppose the law, encouraging their supporters to donate toward legal proceedings and gaining media exposure. They are firm believers in the secular state, and how it should be “protecting the religious freedom of all individuals by not privileging any one religion over another”. They went on to say that the law, if it is passed, will require taxpayers to cover fees for religious classes that “should be paid for by individual churches and interested parents”, not taxpayers. They warned their supporters that “this is how theocracies begin.”

Mendoza said that “this violates the National Education Law. This initiative violates the Law of the Integrity of Children and Adolescents where it is guaranteed that education in Guatemala should be secular”.


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