To the Editors:
Last spring a philosopher of education from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Professor A.C. Kazepides, published an essay entitled “The Ideological Confusion and the Indoctrination of the Young in Greece” in the journal of the Secondary Education Teachers’ Confederation of Greece, Logos and Praxis. In this paper Kazepides argued that the law and the practice in Greece of teaching Greek Orthodox Church doctrine as knowledge is conceptually ill-conceived and is harmful to children from an educational standpoint because, like indoctrination of any sort, it promotes closed-mindedness. He maintained: “The educated person must possess knowledge and not doctrinal beliefs, unexamined suppositions, personal prejudices or preferences.” And, “all the methods that violate or overlook the will and understanding of the learner, like the use of force, suggestion, and hypnosis, propaganda and indoctrination cannot be considered legitimate educational methods.”
In response to publication there was a considerable protest by high school teachers of religion and officials of the Greek Orthodox Church—so strong in fact that a public prosecutor has indicted Kazepides and the nine-member executive of the teachers’ confederation for having “maliciously insulted the prevailing-in-Greece Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ” with “vulgar and sarcastic expressions.” The trial is to be held in Athens on May 14, 1980.
What is worrisome from Kazepides’ point of view is not only that he and the executive of the confederation may go to jail, or may lose their jobs, if found guilty, but that present efforts in Greece to separate the church from the state and to free education from the authoritarian and parochial control of the church will be frustrated.
We feel, in addition, that a great danger for Greece as a free society lies in the very fact that such a trial can be brought about. What Kazepides has done is to publish a scholarly article in a professional journal on a matter of considerable educational importance. If such a thing can lead to trial, what of freedom of speech and the pursuit of truth?
It is believed that if there is enough support from the English-speaking world the trial will be called off. So we ask readers of The New York Review to express their concerns by writing a letter to one of the following persons.
H.E. Mr. George Rallis
Minister of Foreign Affairs
H.E. Mr. D. Velissaropoulos
Ambassador of Greece
80 McClaren Street
Ottawa, Ontario K2P OK6
H.E. Mr. John A. Tzounis
Ambassador of Greece
2211 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Dr. N.C. Bhattacharya; Dr. A.S. Carson; Dr. R.S. Pannu; Dr. M.K. Bacchus; Dr. P.J. Miller; Professor D.R. Pugh; Dr. P. Rooke; Professor H. Lysons; Dr. A.M. Decore; Professor J.R. Young; Dr. D.G. Wangler; Professor J.S. Hardy; Dr. R.J. Carney; Professor M.I. Assheton-Smith; Dr. I. DeFaveri; Dr. G.D. Taylor; Dr. M. Bauer; Dr. F.N. Walker
May 15, 1980