Learning About Religion in Secular State Schools New Edition Publication date : September 30, 2015
Régis Debray, a philosopher and writer, is the former president of the steering committee of the European Institute of Religious Sciences, under the auspices of the École Pratique des Hautes Études. He is the author of several highly successful major works published by Editions Odile Jacob: Transmettre; Que vive la République; Croire, voir, faire and Dieu, un itinéraire.
Recent events have tragically brought to the fore the question of laïcité, or secularism, in France. In 2002, following the trauma of 9/11, Régis Debray submitted a report to the French Minister of Education on the teaching of religions in schools. Why did he argue that religions should be taught in the schools of the French Republic?
Debray’s answer is that without any knowledge of religion most cultural and artistic works become incomprehensible, and because ignorance nourishes prejudice and encourages self-ghettoization. Promoting the study of religions is simply a way of promoting education itself, argues Debray. After the appalling events of January 2015, his recommendations have become increasingly pertinent.
It is in the interests of secularism to fight against religious ‘illiteracy’. It is not a question of putting God back into the school system, but of ensuring that fanaticism does not have a monopoly on religious matters.
This new edition of Debray’s earlier work contains a previously unpublished chapter.
• A central issue in current political and social events.
• An essential work by a foremost French intellectual.
• A lively, uncompromising work, by the thinker who urged the study of religions in French schools.