The Relations Between Religion and Politics in European Education Systems
This paper aims to discuss the role of religion in contemporary European education systems, especially in the realm of social rights. Classical social thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th century all thought that religion would either disappear or become progressively attenuated with the expansion of modern institutions. They understand modernization not to involve the actual disappearance of religion, but perhaps as attenuation and certainly as changing religious forms in relation to other institutions. Studies of the relationship between religion and education in Europe seem to adopt the view that the study of religion is a precondition for tolerance and social awareness of religious diversity, as well as a prerequisite for personal development and social responsibility. Religious education is perceived as part of ‘bildung’ and a presupposition of citizenship education in its broader sense. This position challenges the foundation stones of enlightenment thought as an attempt to distinguish between knowledge and faith or citizenship and congregation. Educational systems, the par excellence institutions of Modernity, represent an interesting example of the peculiar co-existence between tradition and Modernity in European societies. The implications of the persistence of religion within the institutions of Modernity are both epistemological and political. While the foundations of modern knowledge on reason are challenged in several aspects of school knowledge, fundamentalism, nationalism and social exclusion.
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