Evangelicals in Israel say a new Christian curriculum for students in both public and private high schools conflicts with their theology and must not be adopted.
"The curriculum states that the only acceptable religious teachers are from Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican churches," said Yohanna Katanacho, a former instructor at Bethlehem Bible College. "The doctrinal statements within the curriculum not only deprive evangelicals of the freedom of teaching their own doctrines in their schools, but also promote teachings that are inadmissible in their churches."
Representatives from Catholic, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Anglican churches developed the curriculum for Israel's Ministry of Education. It is designed as a compulsory religious studies program for Arab Israeli Christians in grades 10 to 12. Muslim and Jewish students have their own religious instruction. The proposed curriculum includes doctrinal statements and teachings about the sacraments and church rituals with an emphasis on the heritage and traditions of Christians in the Holy Land. Its stated goal is to introduce Christian religious doctrines in "a new scientific way" that takes into account "the modern worldview." Israeli education officials were not available for comment.
Evangelicals form a minority of the estimated 140,000 Arab Christians living in Israel. Katanacho said evangelicals cannot accept the curriculum's teaching that the church is the believer's "interpretive authority," nor its assumptions that rituals, sacraments, and liturgical prayers are means of sanctification. "How can I as an evangelical advocate transubstantiation, praying to the saints and the Blessed Virgin, or salvation by water baptism?"
Botrus Mansour, a lawyer and general director ...1
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