Studying Religion Critically in Universities and Schools: Bridging the Gap?
The article tries to identify the place of the critical Study of Religion in universities and schools, comparing examples for different recent developments in Germany and Britain. One decisive issue in this respect is the question if the critical Study of Religion as a discipline or as (critical) education about Religion is visible at all and if the differences to other, often much better known (often religious) approaches are acknowledged or played down. The discussed examples (a judgement of the German Federal Constitutional Court on the religious limitation of the academic freedom of professors of theology, the BA report on Theology and Religious Studies Provision in UK Higher Education and the report of the Commission on Religious Education) highlight some subtleties of a complex field where important facts and distinctions remain concealed to non-specialists. With respect to RE, the article argues that these dynamics fit the concept of "small-i-indoctrination". Referring to Katharina Frank’s empirical research on the communication of knowledge about religion (Religionskunde) it spells out the important distinctions that need to be made explicit in order to make the characteristics of a critical (secular) approach better known.