Spain’s new atheist PM wants religion kept out of schools
Pedro Sánchez, an atheist to the core, today became the first Spanish Prime Minister to be sworn in without a Bible or a crucifix on the table before him – a day after the stunning parliamentary defeat of his predecessor Mariano Rajoy.
Four years ago Sánchez, then General Secretary of the Socialist Party (PSOE), confirmed that he was ‘deeply atheistic’ in a Traveling with Chester TV programme.
I am an atheist and I believe that religion should not be in the classrooms, it has to be in the churches. In the classrooms you have to form citizenship, not people with religious beliefs.
According to this report, King Felipe had relaxed the protocol on swearing-in ceremonies for officials since taking up the throne in 2014, meaning Christian symbols are now an optional element.
The 46-year-old socialist formally took up his post as Spain’s prime minister after he successfully ousted Mariano Rajoy, who lost a no-confidence vote in parliament over a corruption scandal within his party.
From the off, Sánchez has taken a combative approach to the country’s Catholic Church, which enjoys a privileged position despite the Spanish state officially being secular.
In his manifesto when running for the party leadership in 2017, Sánchez promised to renounce treaties signed by the Vatican and Spain in 1979, under which the Catholic Church was guaranteed funding through a share of taxpayers’ money. He also promised to end taxpayers’ funding for religious instruction in state schools.
Sánchez is unlikely to get much opposition to his proposed reforms vis-a-vis the Catholic Church. Gone are the days when the Vatican had Spain by the throat and the Civil Guard would fine, or even beat, those who refused to attend mass on Sunday. Today just 13 percent of self-declared Catholics bother to go to church.
A visit to any small village in Spain shows that in many cases, there is no longer a priest in attendance.