Education and religion relationship questions

Education and religion

education and religion relationship questions

questions about meaning and purpose in life, beliefs about God, ultimate reality, have an entitlement under Jersey Law to study religious education and the develop their own narratives in relation to stories they hear from. GCSE Religious Studies Relationships and lifestyle learning resources for adults, children, parents and teachers. The relationship between religion and public education has been fraught with the role of religion in public education is grounded in questions about the role of .

In terms of legal impact, the establishment clause has historically garnered more attention because of the wide-sweeping impact a legal decision will have. In contrast, free exercise cases address issues that pertain largely to religious minorities, so the impact is smaller and more context dependent.

Typically, when justices decide Establishment Clause cases they are asked to determine whether an enactment effectively establishes, or supports, a state religion. There are generally three different judicial perspectives on establishment, strict separation, accommodation, and neutral separation. Strict separationists invoke the idea of a wall separating Church and State. For strict separationists there is no instance in which an enactment would be tolerated Neuhaus, Barring this, certain accommodations are permissible as long as government does not prefer one religion to another Massaro, Finally, the neutral separation position examines enactments with a slightly different lens arguing that what is most important is official State neutrality between religion and non-religion and thus argue that to adhere to the establishment clause may mean at times accommodating religion if it is to maintain neutrality between religion and non-religion Fox, ; Temperman, Generally speaking, when focusing on the major court cases that have impacted public education, the neutral separation position has carried the day when it comes to issues such as school prayer, religious instruction, and released time.

For our discussion this is important because it is the application of the 14th amendment to the 1st amendment that holds public schools and public school employees to the restrictions of the 1st amendment Everson v. The 14th amendment application to the 1st amendment is also essential since it is the states, rather than the federal government, that hold substantive influence over public school curriculum and policy. Several watershed cases have firmly established the preference for the neutral separation position.

Arguing that school personnel were involved with the administration and execution of this program was tantamount to supporting religion it was found unconstitutional. In contrast, the courts sided with the school district in Zorach v. Key Court Cases In the middle of the 20th century it was commonplace for the school day to begin with a religious prayer or invocation.

Beginning incases made their way through the courts, and in every instance the court found such prayers violated the establishment clause. Further, because the prayer was broadcast at the start of the school day, students had no choice captive audience but to listen. The following year, the court in an decision in Abington School District v. Of greater importance in this case was the distinction made between the unconstitutionality of practicing religion in public school with the constitutionally permissible act of studying religion in public school.

That is, if there is an educational purpose to studying religion, then presumably this would be permissible. The second significance of this case is that it offered the first two of what later became a three-prong test used to adjudicate Establishment clause cases.

The first prong asks what is the primary purpose of the enactment? Is it religious or secular? The second prong asks what is the primary effect of the enactment—religious or secular? In cases where the primary purpose and effect are secular the enactment is said to be permissible. This formula is particularly useful when determining whether curriculum, such as evolution or creationism, for example, is permitted. Arkansas addressed the matter of an Arkansas law prohibiting the teaching of evolution.

The law was ruled unconstitutional on the grounds that the primary purpose of the law was to advance and protect a religious view. Following the Epperson decision was the famous case Lemon v. It was famous mainly because of the establishment of the third prong used to adjudicate establishment clause cases.

At issue in this case was the question of whether public schools could reimburse private schools for the salaries of their teachers who taught secular subjects. Since the majority of the private schools were parochial, the matter fell under establishment. In deciding that it was unconstitutional for the public schools to pay the salaries of the parochial school teachers, the court determined that while primary purpose and primary effect were central to deciding constitutionality, a third prong, which says that the enactment must not foster an excessive entanglement between religion and government was needed.

Paying the salaries of private school teachers who teach secular subjects may not serve a primarily religious purpose or have a primarily religious effect, but it certainly would foster an excessive entanglement between government and religion in that government would be very involved with accounting for their investments in a parochial school. Contemporary Tensions Other important Establishment Clause cases related to education include Wallace v.

This case dealt with the constitutionality of moments of silence. In this case, the state of Alabama allowed for a moment of silence for the purpose of meditation or private prayer. While moments of silence with no explicit purpose have been found constitutional, this law was found unconstitutional on the grounds that it had a clear religious purpose.

The court, in a decision found the law unconstitutional according to all three prongs of the Lemon test.

education and religion relationship questions

The courts have ruled similarly in more recent court cases such as Selman v. In summary, since the s when the 14th amendment was applied to the 1st amendment, public schools have been limited in what counts as permissible in relation to religion and public schooling. Bush, emphasize that restrictions on religious expression are limited to school personnel while in their official capacity.

For example, under the Equal Access Actstudent-initiated religious groups are permitted at schools. However, teachers cannot create or lead these groups, though they are allowed to monitor them. Free Exercise It is worth mentioning briefly the role of the free exercise clause in public schools. The chief function of the free exercise clause is to provide protection to religious minorities where laws created by the majority might serve unintentionally to restrict their free exercise.

The most famous free exercise case related to public schools is, Wisconsin v. In this case, members of the Amish community requested an exemption from state compulsory attendance laws. Wisconsin law required all students to attend school until the age of The Amish requested an exemption from the last two years of schooling what essentially would have amounted to the first two years of high school.

Their rationale was that the exposure Amish children would have could undermine their very way of life; indeed they claimed it threatened their survival. Ultimately, the court sided with the Amish for two very different reasons. First, acknowledging the importance of an education for participation in public life, the court reasoned that because the Amish live a self-sufficient life and by all outward expressions are a successful social unit, the exemption was warranted.

Second, they reasoned that laws should not serve to threaten the very way of life of a religious minority group and the state ought to be respectful, not hostile, to minority religious views. The law, then, sets clear parameters for what constitutes an establishment of religion and when individual free exercise should take precedent over generally applicable laws. One can conclude from this discussion that, contrary to the claim made by the religiously orthodox, public schools are not hostile to religion but rather are welcoming of religion in the public school in so far as it serves an educational purpose.

This next section treats curriculum. Where, if at all should religion reside in the curriculum? What are the strengths and limitations of its inclusion? And finally, how does its inclusion contribute to cultivating a democratic ideal? Curriculum Curriculum serves as a battleground in education. Perhaps more than other dimensions of schooling, it tells us what is worth knowing and understanding.

Curriculum, however, does not exist in a vacuum. Curriculum can be a deeply political issue, especially when dealing with the topics of science, history, and religion Erekson, There is also significant discussion on who should set the curriculum priorities the local school district, the states, or the federal government as well as how much freedom teachers should have to move away from the set curriculum Webb, How the curriculum treats religion has often created controversy.

This is an even more complex issue in a society that is becoming both more non-religious as well as more religiously diverse Pew Religious Center, Herbert Kliebard, the preeminent American curriculum historian, identifies four primary groups who have vied for supremacy in schools. These groups sought to define the U. They were humanists, social meliorists, those focused on child development, and social efficiency educators Kliebard, ; Labadee, Depending on which view enjoyed currency at a particular time in history, could determine whether religion, in some form, found its way into the formal narrative of schooling.

Whereas the humanists were primarily concerned with fostering in students intellectual skills through the traditional disciplines, social meliorists thought curriculum should have a focus on activism—social improvement. Developmentalists thought that it was important to design curriculum around the development of the individual learner and social efficiency advocates thought curriculum should be limited to preparation for the workforce.

As one examines different movements to include religion within the curriculum it is valuable to note which theoretical model is invoked. For these curricular approaches provide a lens into the view of religion with respect to larger society.

Limiting discussions to creationism and science misses far more consequential arguments for an important and relevant role for religion in the public schools.

Warren Nord has made perhaps the most convincing and comprehensive arguments for the centrality of religious ways of knowing to all disciplines Nord, For Nord it is not so much that religious perspectives have a stronger purchase on the truth of things, but rather the religious lens or a religious lens asks different sorts of questions than non-religious lenses and thus enlarges the conversations about various historical perspectives, economic theories, etc. For example, religion can serve as a type of critique of our current market-driven society or it can enlarge conversations related to scientific development, environmental sustainability, etc.

Nord, however, is not alone in his calls for including religion religious perspectives in the public school curriculum. Stephen Prothero and others have made a strong call for religious literacy Prothero, Particularly since the terrorist attacks of in the United States, there has been a collective realization that, generally speaking, Americans are largely ignorant when it comes to understanding much about religion Moore, Politicians and media outlets have often exploited this ignorance to create fear about Muslims, refugees, and the religious other.

The contention goes, the more illiterate we are, the more religious intolerance predominates. This illiteracy is not limited to Islam, but can be said to be a general religious illiteracy Wood, Nel Noddings has also made a forceful case for providing students with opportunities to explore existential questions in the public school classroom Noddings, She argues that students already come to school bogged down with these types of questions, so schools have an obligation to help students make sense of them Noddings, The Bible Literacy Project, an ambitious project endorsed by a wide range of academics and theologians provides a well-sourced textbook that can be used in schools Bible Literacy Project, Though, their intentions may be less educational and more religious, many states have passed legislation permitting the teaching of the Bible in public schools Goodman, The Bible used for literary or historical reasons seems justifiable and fully constitutional.

Multiculturalism A recent text by philosopher Liz Jackson makes the case that Muslims, in particular, are done a disservice when schools do not attend substantively to the study of Islam in schools. Her argument is based on three essential claims.

First, in the absence of a substantive treatment in schools, citizens are left with popular culture depictions of Muslims Jackson, These characterizations typically misrepresent Muslims. Second, the ways in which Muslims are depicted in social studies textbooks also take a narrow view. That is Muslims and Islam are largely depicted beginning in through the lens of terrorism Jackson, Finally, Jackson argues that preservice teacher preparation programs do not do sufficient work in preparing future social studies teachers to be knowledgeable about Muslims and Islam, and therefore they are ill-equipped to disrupt the narratives perpetuated in textbooks or through popular culture Jackson, Curricular Opportunities There are many ways in which religion can be addressed in public school curricula that are both constitutionally permissible and educationally justifiable.

Schools could provide world religion survey courses so that students have at least a superficial understanding of the range of religions in the world. Schools could offer controversial issues classes where religion could serve as both a topic and a perspective. Schools can study religious perspectives on a variety of current issues. In an increasingly diverse society, the ability to understand the perspectives of those from other faiths is vital for social cohesion and peace.

Ignoring differences does not make intolerance dissipate but often allows stereotypes and antagonism to flourish. However, this is not inconsistent with the view that a good general knowledge of religions, and as a result a sense of tolerance, are essential to the exercise of democratic citizenship. In its Recommendation on religion and democracy, the Assembly asserted: Knowledge of religions is dying out in many families.

More and more young people lack the necessary bearings fully to apprehend the societies in which they move and others with which they are confronted. The media — printed and audiovisual — can have a highly positive informative role. Some, however, especially among those aimed at the wider public, very often display a regrettable ignorance of religions, as shown for instance by the frequent unwarranted parallels drawn between Islam and certain fundamentalist and radical movements.

Politics and religion should be kept apart. However, democracy and religion should not be incompatible. In fact they should be valid partners.

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By tackling societal problems, the public authorities can eliminate many of the situations which can lead to religious extremism. Education is essential for combating ignorance, stereotypes and misunderstanding of religions. Governments should also do more to guarantee freedom of conscience and religious expression, to foster education on religions, to encourage dialogue with and between religions and to promote the cultural and social expression of religions.

School is a major component of education, of forming a critical spirit in future citizens and of intercultural dialogue. It lays the foundations for tolerant behaviour.

By teaching children the history and philosophy of the main religions with restraint and objectivity and with respect for the values of the European Convention on Human Rights, it will effectively combat fanaticism. Understanding the history of political conflicts in the name of religion is essential. Even countries where one religion plainly predominates should teach about the origins of all religions rather than favour a single one or encourage proselytising.

In Europe, there are various concurrent situations. Education systems generally — and especially the State schools in so-called secular countries — are not devoting enough resources to teaching about religions, or — in countries where there is a state religion and in denominational schools — are focusing on only one religion.

Some countries have prohibited the carrying or wearing of religious symbols in schools. Unfortunately, all over Europe there is a shortage of teachers qualified to give comparative instruction in the different religions, so a European teacher training institute for that needs to be set up at least for teacher trainers. The Council of Europe assigns a key role to education in the construction of a democratic society,but study of religions in schools has not yet received special attention.

The Assembly observes moreover that the three monotheistic religions of the Book have common origins Abraham and share many values with other religions and that the values upheld by the Council of Europe stem from these values. Accordingly, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers: The Assembly also recommends that the Committee of Ministers encourage the governments of member states to ensure that religious studies are taught at the primary and secondary levels of State education, on the basis of the following criteria in particular: It is not a matter of instilling a faith but of making young people understand why religions are the sources of faith for millions; They should be teachers of a cultural or literary discipline.

However, specialists in another discipline could be made responsible for this education; Religion is an important aspect of European culture and plays a significant role for many people throughout Europe. However, it has become clear that — particularly in so-called secular countries — education systems are not devoting enough resources to teaching about religions, or — in countries where there is a state religion and in faith schools — are focusing on only one religion.

At the same time, religious traditions are dying out in many families. As a result, more and more young people lack the bearings they need to help them understand the societies in which they live and to which they face. It was therefore deemed necessary to consider the role of education systems with regard to religion.

Earlier committee activities 4. In its report on religion and democracy Doc. However, democracy and religion need not be incompatible and can be valid partners.

How religion may affect educational attainment

By tackling societal problems, the authorities can remove many of the causes of religious extremism. Education is the key way to combat ignorance, stereotypes and misunderstanding of religions. Governments should also do more to guarantee freedom of conscience and religious expression, to develop education about religions, to encourage dialogue with and between religions and to promote the cultural and social expression of religions.

During an exchange of views with the committee on 23 June the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Gil-Robles, said that many of the crisis situations which he had encountered were deeply rooted in cultural and religious tensions. The Commissioner also underlined the need to consider the setting up of a European teacher training institute for the comparative study of religions. On 17 November the rapporteur and others tabled a motion for a recommendation on the comparative study of religions and intercultural dialogue.

The motion points out the key role that the Council of Europe assigns to education in the construction of a democratic society and states that the comparative study of religions in schools has not yet received special attention. Knowledge of religions is integral to knowledge of the history of humanity and civilisations. It should be distinguished from belief in or practice of a specific religion.

education and religion relationship questions

Given the many possible prejudices and stereotypes regarding religions, it is important to have structured, rational instruction in schools. That would help combat fanaticism, fundamentalism and xenophobia more effectively. The Bureau of the Assembly asked the Committee on Culture, Science and Education for a report and the latter appointed me as rapporteur at its meeting on 29 January Some however, especially among those aimed at the wider public, very often display a regrettable ignorance of religions, as shown for instance by the frequent unwarranted parallels drawn between Islam and certain fundamentalist and radical movements.

education and religion relationship questions

The committee held its first exchange of views on the subject on 18 March The issue is a complex and sensitive one, involving deeply rooted religious, cultural and historical beliefs. It is therefore a subject that needs to be treated with great caution.

Ignorance often gives rise to intolerance, fanaticism, fundamentalism and terrorism. Schools play a key role because they impart knowledge of and respect for others.

Better knowledge of others would help develop intercultural dialogue and religious tolerance. Schools should teach religions, their history, their philosophies and their practices as a comparative study and in a structured and reasoned manner.

The committee members think that as well as concerning itself with comparative study of religions and intercultural dialogue the report should adopt a wider approach to the subject.

School courses should teach not only factual knowledge but also about the nature of religious experience. They should not confine themselves to European religions but extend to other continents' religions now represented in Europe.

Religious instruction must not be bound by national stereotypes. A series of hearings enabled me to collect relevant views on the question, for example from religious leaders and history teachers.

It is also important to take in the non-religious as well as the religious stance. As religious beliefs are deeply held, there has to be a modicum of consensus as a starting point.

He pointed out that while teachers were responsible for actual teaching, a range of parties were involved in education: New syllabuses should take into account that the Bible and the Koran were not scientific documents. He raised the question of whether this subject area was the sole preserve of history teachers.

education and religion relationship questions

Religion might also fit into the education for citizenship syllabus. At all events, it should not be left entirely to teachers to draw up the new syllabuses. The following are some of the comments made by committee members: At the end of the discussion the committee decided to hold a thorough hearing with the representatives of the main religions to be found in Europe. This hearing, held in Paris on 2 Decemberdid not have a structured programme. Instead of a series of statements followed by questions and answers, the aim was to enable committee members and the invited religious leaders to debate freely on issues relating to school teaching of religion.

Relationships and lifestyle

Is it necessary to teach about religions in schools and why? What should be the core content of religious instruction? What ways and means should be considered? Who should teach about religions and in what contexts? What account should be taken of the different religions in drawing up syllabuses and in teacher training?

The following religious leaders were invited on a personal basis and not as official representatives of their respective religions: A number of interesting ideas emerged at the hearing: People therefore had to be able to receive, practise and express education and religion at the local level.

Bishop Athanasios - Religion should not be a mere item of knowledge complete with its historic and sociological aspects: Religious education also provided an opportunity for developing the spiritual dimension in students. Bishop Athanasios - European education systems varied widely, and consequently did not all share the same point of view on religious education.