A Private Matter? Religious Education and Democracy in Indonesia and Israel

Published: 
Feb. 04, 2016

Source: British Journal of Religious Education

 

The article examines state-supported religious education and its consequences for civic attitudes in Indonesia and Israel, two democracies that grant religion a prominent place in the public sphere, particularly in education. The comparison reveals that while in Indonesia the state was able to gradually introduce a secular curriculum in religious schools and establish an accreditation system by which it could exert influence on the way religion is taught, in Israel, by contrast, state-funded religious schools over time became increasingly opposed to a mandatory ‘core curriculum’ of general studies.

The comparison further suggests that in Indonesia the inclusion of a secular curriculum in religious schools in the 1970s should be seen as one of the factors promoting the production and dissemination of ‘rationalist approaches to religion’ and brought religious actors on board of democratisation, while in Israel the exclusion of a secular curriculum from religious schooling has undermined civic commitments among ultra-Orthodox Jewish citizens and as such weakened Israeli democracy. The article is based on public opinion data, data from the Ministries of Religion and Education, and court decisions in both countries.

Updated: Feb. 17, 2016
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