Religious Education in Public Schools in Western Europe

  •  Mercedes Llorent-Vaquero    


Christianity is one of the cultural and ethical cornerstones of Europe. In the European Union (EU) there is no overarching policy on religious education (RE) in the school system. The authors use a comparative methodology to analyze the constitutions of Western European countries in relation to different aspects of RE. Specifically, it is focused in Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Whereas the right to religious freedom for all is clearly established in these constitutions, obvious differences are revealed in the legal provisions for and attitudes towards religious education. For example, the legal framework of this education has been included in the constitutions of all the analyzed countries, except in the case of France. Also, optional subjects are on offer in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, however no alternative subjects to RE are on offer in Austria. In this sense, the authors defend that it is essential to open up the academic dialogue about religious and spiritual issues.

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