CFI Issues Statement Applauding the ECHR for Decision to Ban Crosses in Italian Public Schools

November 11, 2009


Centers for Inquiry across Europe Applaud the European Court of Human Rights for Decision to Ban Crosses in Italian Public Schools

We, secular humanists in Europe and members and affiliates of the Center for Inquiry/Transnational (CFI), welcome the European Court of Human Rights

decision regarding the removal of religious symbols in public schools in Italy.

We strongly support its efforts to protect the human rights of children not to have religious dogma forced upon them anywhere in Europe. We agree with the court that the aim of public school education is "to foster critical thinking."

We urge that the Council of Europe take action to guarantee the freedom of children as set forth in the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Its Preamble states that "the child should be fully prepared to live an individual life in society, and brought up in the spirit  of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity." Article 29 of the Convention further states that:

The Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:

(a) The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;

(b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental

freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the

United Nations;

(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society,

in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes,

and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups

and persons of indigenous origin;

(e) The development of respect for the natural environment.

As members and affiliates of CFI, we support freedom of religion; parents should be able choose to send their children to private religious schools at their own expense, provided these schools meet minimal educational standards. However, we oppose state funding of religious schools as a violation of freedom of religion and the separation of religion and government. CFI calls for an end to public support of religious education.

We congratulate the European Court of Human Rights on making a substantial breakthrough with respect to the separation of State and Church in Europe by denouncing the clericalization of governments and the infringement of religious freedom in public schools.

There is no reasonable alternative to secularism as the basis for an effective and responsible democratic government. The Center for Inquiry and its European branches promote the separation of state and religion and a secular legal and educational system as fundamental democratic principles.

Signed by The Center for Inquiry:

Dr. Paul Kurtz

, Founder and Chairman Emeritus

Dr. Ronald A. Lindsay

, President and CEO

Norm R. Allen, Jr

., Director of African Americans for Humanism, Co-Director of International Programming

Derek C. Araujo, Esq

., Vice President and General Counsel, Co-Director of International Programming

Centers for Inquiry/Europe:



Dr. Gabriel Andreescu, Chair

J. Beth Ciesielski, Executive Director

Fundatia Centrul pentru Constiinta Critica

Romanian Branch of Center for Inquiry

Bucharest, Romania


Valerii Kuvakin




Dr. Andrzej Dominiczak

CFI Poland,



Floris van den Berg, Annemarieke Otten, and Rob Thielman

CFI – Netherlands and the Low Countries


Dr. Stephen Law

Suresh Lalvani



Luis Alfonso Gamez

CFI/ Spain


Hugo Estrella

CFI/ Italy


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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at