Finnish schoolsystem is much praised and gives exellent results in the PISA tests. As something works so well, one could be tempted not to poke it, or change it.

The assistant chancellor of justice raised anger by commenting the legality of religious activities in Finnish schools. He was acting based on a few individual complaints about certain religious activities being unconstituional and regarded the matter as a purely legal issue. It soon became political.

For some reason the conversation runs around this old religious hymn traditionally sang at the end of each schoolyear. It is an appaling piece of music whith the words written around the theme of thanksgiving for a new spring. The song is a symbol for a lot of people of school work being over and summer leave beginning, though the words do not say anything about school. I guess it must have a lot of happy memories connected to a bunch of adults, since they feel so very strongly about the song, that they got outraged about the very thought it could not be sang in schools any more as a result of the religious content being in contradiction whith the Finnish law and the EU act about religious freedom.

It seems like the actual issue of individual schools organizing religious (namely Lutheran Christian) activities during school time, in school buildings and on the teachers government paid salaries, was soon overtaken by the outrage about this single hymn. The law about religious freedom states, that a person does not have to take part in religious activities in school, nor even reveal their religious affiliation, or lack of any. Clearly, even if the majority of the students and teachers, are Lutheran and have a religious activity based on their faith, then a person who does not share their beliefs has to either join in to conceal any other views on religion, or reveal the different affiliation, or lack of any to be excused. This includes singing religious hymns.

Typically the most stupid Finns made the biggest fuss about the issue. This stupidity was revealed by the fact, that they were fast to blame the immigrant Muslims about the entire issue. The Islamic community of Finland was rapid in response, that they have no issue whith this particular religious hymn. What else could they? They are allready under suspicion by the very same stupid people, who thought it was them disputing the right to sing the song.  As a result the very same stupid people make a big number about the reluctance of Muslims to dispute the Christian song, by saying that nobody – exept a very small minority of atheists – wants to get rid of the song in schools. And by stating that, they yet again reveal how they have been fooled in this issue. Fooled to think it is all about one song, that they find emotionally important, and not about the religious freedom, ethics and legality of the schoolsystem.

It is ridiculous how Finland is full of church buildings, to hardly any people ever even attend, but a single religious hymn is supposedly such a part of Finnish culture, that it has to be sang once a year in the school. I bet, that if it was banned from schools (as it should be according to the letter and spirit of the law), or if the words were changed not to represent any particular religious belief, the people angry of the entire issue would not take their kids to the especially built churches to sing the very same hymn in it’s religious meaning on that very happy occasion of summer leave of students beginning. Is that even a religious festival, in the first place?

If the song was ever banned, or changed into non-religious in content who would be hurt? The kids would hardly notice. If the religious individuals among teachers can not begin their summer holidays whithout a particular song at their work, that altough may be traditional, is also clearly an ethical violation of our legal system (and human rights as we understand religious freedom), then what is wrong whith these individuals, and should they be allowed to teach children? Why is it, that the biggest noise about this issue comes from people who do not even attend the event where the song is traditionally being sang?

Perhaps it is the last line of defence for religious symbolism in our culture. Who ever thinks, that the cross in the side of a paramedics vehicle represents Christianity. Infact most paramedical vehicles do not have a cross on them anymore. The alarm signals and ambulance written backwards on the front of the car seems to serve as symbols enough for the purpose.

A fact is, that there are people who would want to use schools for teaching of their particular brand of religion as reliable as any other stuff in school. School as an authoritative source would give the credibility to their particular brand of unfounded beliefs, that lack any evidence.

Most Finns know hardly anything about any religion. All they know is, that they belong to one after a tradition. That tradition may give them some form of unfounded security. Most Finns do not put their kids to sunday schools, nor ever attend to church. They have more important and concrete issues to deal whith. They do not teach their kids anything particular about any particular religion, because what is there to teach? They can not remember what they were taught in school, but expect the schools to tell their kids the same stuff they were told (since they themselves turned out so fine). To keep up the tradition. Religion feeds on that.

The Lutheran church has a massive organization and bureacracy, that is hardly ever questioned, because what is there to question? The church keeps the common man in relation to the divine, like the taxation office keeps him in relation to government. People pay their tithes like they pay their taxes and insurance policies. To feel safe.