Logo law and pluralism
Logo Università Bicocca

Folgerø and Others v. Norway, No. 15472/02, ECtHR (Grand Chamber), 29 June 2007


The refusal to exempt a student from the religious education course breaches the right of parents to raise their children in accordance with their religious beliefs.

Normative references

Art. 2 Prot. No. 1 ECHR


1. Article 2 of the first additional protocol to the ECHR protects the need for teaching in an objective, critical and pluralistic way, without any purpose of indoctrination. Pluralism, as a condition of democracy, does not exclude the legitimacy of religious teaching, in primary and secondary public schools, even if confessional oriented, provided that it is not compulsory and the possibility of exemption is granted. Therefore, the refusal by national school authorities to grant exemption from religious education which is not enough pluralistic breaches the right to education.

2. A school system that imposes on parents the obligation to submit a solemn declaration of the religious affiliation of their children to obtain the exemption from the religious education course is able to impose an excessive burden on parents with the risk of exposing sensitive aspects of their private life. This potential conflict could discourage them from making such a request thus causing a breach of art. 2 of the first additional protocol to the ECHR.