CHISINAU -- Moldova's Supreme Court has rejected a proposal by former Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat to hold a nationwide referendum on making the study of Orthodox Christianity compulsory in schools, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
The court ruled that the planned referendum is illegal and that the compulsory study of Orthodox Christianity would endanger the secular nature of the state.
The verdict is a blow to Pasat, who has announced that his Humanist Party will participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
He has also hinted that he might run for president.
Pasat enjoys the support of the powerful Moldovan Metropolitan, the pro-Russian Orthodox Church which is competing for followers with the pro-Romanian Bessarabian Metropolitan.
Pasat's proposal to make schoolchildren study orthodox Christianity on a compulsory basis has been criticized by the country's mainstream political
parties, by religious communities, and by representatives of civic society, which have challenged it in court.
The pro-Western government decided last month to allow schools to teach religion on an optional basis as of September 1, when the new school year
The overwhelming majority of the approximately 4.5 million Moldovans are Orthodox Christians.
The country also has smaller Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish communities.