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Freedom of religion and secular education: Teachers define the meaning of religious freedom in everyday school practice

Marie Fahlén

Abstract


Abstract

Questions about freedom of religion versus secular values have increased as a controversial topic in European public debate during the last decades. The aim of this article is to shed light on these issues by focusing on the definition of “freedom of religion as a human right” among teachers working with younger pupils in the Swedish school system. From a holistic perspective on religion and children’s education, in-depth individual interviews were conducted with teachers working in primary school, as well as teachers in the leisure-time center, examined through discourse analysis. This study provides insights into how two different groups of teachers interpret and apply these potentially conflicting values in everyday school practice. At the end of the article, I reflect upon the consequences of the Swedish, secular and individualistic values that were dominant in the teachers understanding of freedom of religion, in relation to the challenges of a multi-religious school and society.

Keywords: Freedom of religion; human rights; primary school; leisure-time center; discourse analysis

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Bibliography: Fahlén, Marie: Freedom of religion and secular education: Teachers define the meaning of religious freedom in everyday school practice, IJREE, Vol. 5, Issue 2-2017, pp. 150-163. https://doi.org/10.3224/ijree.v5i2.03


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