Religion in Education - between integration and conflict
Department of Sociology University of Hamburg Hamburg, Germany
The paper draws on the results of an empirical mixed-methods-study carried out within the international research project called REDCo: ?Religion in Education. A contribution to Dialogue or a factor of Conflict in transforming societies of European countries?. The project's main aim is to establish and compare the potentials and limitations of religion in schools in the educational systems of selected European countries (England, Estonia, France, Germany, Norway, Russia, Spain, The Netherlands). Recent events across the world have remade religion a topic of high public interest, among them the migratory processes bringing to Europe increasing numbers of people from ethnic and cultural groups for whom religion plays an important role in their lives, the collapse of the Soviet system and the revival of religion in many post-socialist countries, the fear of religious fanaticism in western societies etc. There is a rising public awareness of the necessity to see dialogue between religions and worldviews as a tool to prevent conflict and to support a peaceful coexistence in a pluralistic and heterogeneous society. This is also expressed by the great efforts that have recently been made by inter-governmental organisations developing practical guidance and policy recommendations for teaching about religions and beliefs. For example the governments of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe (2008: 24) emphasised the great importance and relevance of interreligious dialogue in a ?White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue? by stating: ?Interreligious dialogue can also contribute to a stronger consensus within society regarding the solutions to social problems?. Given the process of European unification and the growing religious plurality of European societies, interreligious education is to be considered as key issue for preventing conflict and supporting peaceful coexistence, on both an intranational as well as an international level. The paper will present some broad trends in terms of similarities and differences between the European countries and will then focus the German situation.