RE in Denmark – Political and Professional Discourses and Debates, Past and Present
AbstractReligion education (RE) in the public school in Denmark, as in many countries, is often subject to political, public and professional debate, relating not only to different ideas about RE’s potential contribution to Allgemeinbildung, religious and/or moral formation and citizenship education, but also to reactions or responses to what is perceived as challenges posed by supranational processes such as globalization, individualization, and migration, including a new and growing Muslim presence. Based on an academic Study of Religions approach, defined in contrast to confessional RE, the article outlines relevant political processes and political, public and professional debates on RE, and analyzes the way they have set their mark in past and present Danish education legislation, national curricula and guidelines issued by the state for RE and for the training of RE teachers. Whereas a study-of-religions approach has long been seen as a ‘natural’ framework for RE in the upper-secondary school, RE in the compulsory school (as well as in teacher education for these schools) has traditionally been linked to theology, and is often seen as an instrument in political and ideological efforts to promote and secure a social and national-cultural identity, an identity defined with reference to the majority religion. RE is thus thrust into a key role in on-going ‘culture wars’.
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