Source: The New York Times
On December 20, 2003 The New York Times reported, "While President Jacques Chirac of France has called for a ban on religious symbols in public schools, the conservative administration of the Spanish prime minister, José María Aznar, who favors a mention of Christianity in a future European constitution, has passed a law to strengthen the presence of the Roman Catholic Church in the Spanish schools. National teachers' unions, parents' associations and opposition political parties have reacted with outrage. Under the law, all students must take a class each year on Roman Catholic dogma, taught by church appointees and intended for practicing Catholics, or an alternative, secular class on world religions that education officials say offers a historical approach but opposition party leaders contend is similar to the Catholicism class. The religion grades count toward final averages, which determine promotions and eligibility for competitive university programs. The curriculum in the Catholicism class includes the church's position on divorce, sex and abortion, as well as basic theology. Until now, an optional course on Roman Catholicism was offered during school hours but was not graded."