The Italian government is aiming to address schools that eliminate Christian nativity scenes in an effort to showcase greater religious diversity. A proposed law, introduced on Wednesday, aims to safeguard the nation’s “cultural roots” by endorsing “traditional” Christmas and Easter celebrations.
The far-right government’s proposed law means Principals opting not to feature nativities could face fines under this legislation. The proposal has drawn widespread criticism from opposition parties and school unions.
Lavinia Mennuni, a senator for the ruling Brothers of Italy party who introduced the bill, expressed concern over schools making decisions that alter the essence of Christmas to avoid offending believers of other religions.
The proposed law mandates that schools cannot obstruct initiatives related to traditional celebrations, such as Christmas and Easter, initiated by parents, students, or competent school bodies. The draft text argues that transforming sacred Christian holidays into generic celebrations would constitute discrimination against students and families practicing the majority religion, undermining the nation’s values and deepest traditions.
Opposition parties criticise proposed nativity bill
Riccardo Magi, secretary of the left-wing More Europe party, criticised the proposal on social media, asserting it offends believers and is potentially unconstitutional, contradicting freedom of worship.
Luana Zanella from the Green Europe party accused the Brothers of Italy of diverting attention from pressing national issues instead of effectively governing the country.
“Instead of governing the country, a duty they [the Brothers of Italy] don’t know how to manage, they continue to use ‘weapons of distraction’ like this law against principals who agree to the removal of the nativity scene at school,” said Zanella.
Attilio Fratta, president of the national headmasters’ association, dismissed the proposal as a “hoax,” expressing amazement at the attention given to such news. He highlighted the need to focus on genuine issues affecting schools and the country.
“I am amazed how anyone can give weight to such news,” he said in a statement. “We are faced with measures that are only useful for diverting the attention of Italians from the real problems of schools and the country.”
Gianna Fracassi, head of the Federation of Education Workers, also denounced the interference with school autonomy, pledging support for the principles of school autonomy and the secular nature of public schools.