Special Issue "Religion, Education, Security"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 December 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Liam Francis Gearon

Senior Research Fellow, Harris Manchester College, and Associate Professor of Religious Education, Department of Education, University of Oxford, Mansfield Rd, Oxford, OX1 3TD, UK
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Interests: the epistemological foundations of contemporary religious education; theories of religion as social and cultural critique; education, security and intelligence studies; philosophy, literature and education

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In Schmitt’s (2005) Political Theology, a critical historicity allowed him to claim that ‘All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts’ (Schmitt 2005: 36). Schmitt, above all theorists, demonstrates how the political becomes ‘theological’. Voegelin’s (1999) analysis of the ‘political religions’ (Maier 2004, 2007; Maier and Schafer 2007) here draws theorists to the enduring legacies of autocracy, dictatorship and totalitarianism (Arendt, 1951; Casanova, 1994; Friedrich and Brzezinski, 1967; Popper, 1946; Power 2007; Roberts, 2006; Schapiro, 1972; Talmon, 1961).

In the present, the resurgence of religion in public life has been marked by intense debates over global governance (Burleigh 2006; 2007; Davis, Milbank, and Zizek 2007; Fox and Sandler, 2006) Habermas 2006; Huntington, 1992; James, 2006; Woodhead et al. 2016). These debates have often been framed as variant forms of political theology (De Vries and Sullivan 2006; Scott and Cavanaugh, 2004). Critically, the resurgence of religion in the public sphere has marked too by reconsiderations of secularization theory (Berger, 1999; Bruce, 2002; Davie, Berger and Fokas 2008; Habermas, 2008; Habermas and Ratzinger 2008; Stark, 1999).

Concurrently, across security and intelligence studies, theorists have noted a marked expansion or ‘securitization’ to a number of different domains (Albert and Buzan, 2011; Buzan 1991; Dunn Cavelty and Mauer 2012; Emmers, 2007; Peoples and Vaughan-Williams 2010; Williams 2003; Taureck, 2006; Waever, 1995; Huysmans, 1998). Securitization theory presents a means of exposure, a frame of exposition and a method of analysis of this claimed expansion of security across five such areas of human experience: military, political, societal, economic, and environmental (Waever, 1995; Buzan et al. 1997; also Huysmans, 1998; van Munster, 2016). Bagge Laustsen and Wæver (2000), even prior to 9/11, suggested adding a sixth category of religion.

On first glance the politicization and securitization of religion may seem remote from education. A second look reveals widespread international initiatives aimed at the uses of education precisely for political and security purposes, notably in the countering of terrorism, violent extremism and ideologies opposed to liberal democratic values (Ghosh, Manuel, Chan, Dilimulati, Babaei, 2016). The European Agenda on Security (EAS 2015) has here increasingly drawn universities into the fray, while in the UK specifically, the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 has given public bodies, including educational institutions, legislative responsibilities for maintaining and enhancing security and preventing terrorism, and the ideologies which allow terrorism to flourish. The editor’s conceptualisations of the ‘counter-terrorist classroom’ (Gearon 2013) and the ‘counter-terrorist campus’ (Gearon 2017) have sparked at times vituperative debate (Jackson 2015; Lewin 2017).

The central aim of this volume is critically to engage scholars across religious studies and theology, politics and international relations, security and intelligence studies, to explore through empirical evidence and reasoned argument the role here for religion in education.

The volume aims to make some ground-breaking cross-disciplinary theoretical advances and methodological innovations not simply to further debate but to provide the tools for asking new questions and opening new pathways and frameworks for exploring the critical interface of religion, education and security.

Prof. Dr. Liam Francis Gearon
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Religion
  • Education
  • Security

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Security, Religion, and Political Culture: A Defense of Weak Disestablishment
Religions 2019, 10(2), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020088
Received: 7 January 2019 / Revised: 17 January 2019 / Accepted: 18 January 2019 / Published: 29 January 2019
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Abstract
Many, especially in the West, have long argued against state religious establishments on the ethical grounds of the rights of freedom of conscience and personal autonomy. Situating the question of religious establishment within the field of Religion and Security—an important and growing aspect [...] Read more.
Many, especially in the West, have long argued against state religious establishments on the ethical grounds of the rights of freedom of conscience and personal autonomy. Situating the question of religious establishment within the field of Religion and Security—an important and growing aspect of the Religious Studies discipline—allows for new interpretive possibilities. This paper explores the impact of religious disestablishment on the state’s task of provisioning security from violent religious extremism. Could it be that states which have disestablished a formal or deeply embedded informal tie with religion are less able to provide security to their citizenry? I examine this question and develop the contention that religious disestablishment in the West has actually harmed the state’s capacity to deal effectively with violent religious extremism. In turn, this finding requires us to reconsider the normative bases of strict church/state separation and provides one element within a range of arguments for what I label ‘weak disestablishment.’ Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Education, Security)
Open AccessArticle Religion as a Human Right and a Security Threat—Investigating Young Adults’ Experiences of Religion in Finland
Religions 2019, 10(1), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010055
Received: 28 November 2018 / Revised: 29 December 2018 / Accepted: 8 January 2019 / Published: 16 January 2019
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Abstract
The emergence of religiously motivated terrorist attacks and the increasing xenophobia expressed in Europe concern religions in many ways. Questions related to religion also lie at the core of educational aims and practices used to create national cohesion and understanding about different types [...] Read more.
The emergence of religiously motivated terrorist attacks and the increasing xenophobia expressed in Europe concern religions in many ways. Questions related to religion also lie at the core of educational aims and practices used to create national cohesion and understanding about different types of values and worldviews. However, despite the topicality of the issue, we have little knowledge about the ways in which young adults experience religions in a secular state. In order to contribute to the discussion regarding the relationships between religion, nationality, security, and education, this study focuses on investigating how politically active young adults experience the role of religions in Finnish society. The qualitative data of this study were collected from young adults (18–30-year-olds) through an online questionnaire distributed through political youth organisations. The content analysis of the responses (altogether 250 respondents) identified five main orientations towards religions. The findings highlight the importance of providing young people with education about different faiths and worldviews for reducing prejudices, especially those related to Islam. The findings also highlight the need to address in education and society the possible but not as self-evident relationship between violence and religion, and to do this more explicitly than is currently done. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Education, Security)
Open AccessArticle Religion, Education and Security: The United Nations Alliance of Civilisations and Global Citizenship
Religions 2019, 10(1), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010051
Received: 7 December 2018 / Revised: 2 January 2019 / Accepted: 11 January 2019 / Published: 14 January 2019
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Abstract
Global citizenship refers to a sense of belonging to a broader community and common humanity. It emphasises political, economic, social and cultural interdependence and interconnectedness between the local, the national and the global. Given the compelling necessity to tackle critical global challenges such [...] Read more.
Global citizenship refers to a sense of belonging to a broader community and common humanity. It emphasises political, economic, social and cultural interdependence and interconnectedness between the local, the national and the global. Given the compelling necessity to tackle critical global challenges such as the prevalent trends of growing intolerance and violent extremism, global citizenship is a fundamental aspect of a necessary approach to living together. Its purpose is to champion and spread what many, but not all, regard as desirable universal values, including improved human rights, gender equality, cultural diversity, enhanced tolerance, and environmental sustainability. For the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC), a key approach to help achieve these aims is to improve education, especially for the young, in relation to other faiths and cultures. The article seeks to examine a fundamental component of the Alliance’s activities—improved education for the young about other cultures—in the context of increasing international concern with violent extremism and terrorism. It assesses the achievements of the UNAOC in this regard since its founding in 2005. The article explains that over time the Alliance has made several false starts in relation to its educational programmes and policies but recently, with the recent appointment of a new High Representative and the strong support of the UN Secretary General, there are indications that the UNAOC is now focusing more on developing closer partnerships, both within the UN and without, in order to achieve its educational goals. The first section of the article examines the emergence of the UNAOC and explains its focus on improved inter-cultural education for the young. The second section identifies the post-9/11 focus on violent extremism and terrorism at the UN as a trigger for a shift in the educational activities of the UN to a concentration of preventing and countering violent extremism. The concluding section assesses the record of the UNAOC in relation to its educational goals and the achievement of enhanced global citizenship, especially among young people from various cultures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Education, Security)
Open AccessArticle Fancy Schools for Fancy People: Risks and Rewards in Fieldwork Research Among the Low German Mennonites of Canada and Mexico
Religions 2019, 10(1), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010039
Received: 2 December 2018 / Revised: 18 December 2018 / Accepted: 19 December 2018 / Published: 9 January 2019
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Abstract
In the 1920s, conflict over schooling prompted the exodus of nearly 8000 Mennonites from the Canadian prairie provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan to Mexico and Paraguay; this is the largest voluntary exodus of a single people group in Canadian history. Mennonites—whose roots are [...] Read more.
In the 1920s, conflict over schooling prompted the exodus of nearly 8000 Mennonites from the Canadian prairie provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan to Mexico and Paraguay; this is the largest voluntary exodus of a single people group in Canadian history. Mennonites—whose roots are found in the 1520s Reformation—are an Anabaptist, pacifist, isolationist ethnic, and religious minority group, and victims of a fledgling Canada’s nation-building efforts. It is estimated that approximately 80,000 descendants of the original emigrants have subsequently returned to Canada, where tensions over schooling have persisted. The tensions—then, as now—are rooted in a fundamentally different understanding of the purposes of education—and it is this tension that interests me as an ethnographer and education researcher. My research is concerned with assessing attitudes towards education within the Low German Mennonite (LGM) community in both Canada and Mexico. Too often academic research is presented as a tidy finished product, with little insight shed into the messy, highly iterative process of data collection. The purpose of this article is to pull back the curtain and discuss the messiness of the process, including security risks involved with methodology, site selection, research participants, and gaining access to the community. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Education, Security)
Open AccessArticle Sanctifying Security: Jewish Approaches to Religious Education in Jerusalem
Religions 2019, 10(1), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010023
Received: 1 December 2018 / Revised: 19 December 2018 / Accepted: 20 December 2018 / Published: 1 January 2019
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Abstract
While Schmitt’s Political Theology paints modern theories of the state as secularized theological concepts, prominent threads of Jewish religious education in 20th century Jerusalem have moved in a different direction, that is, toward the re-sacralization of such secularized theological concepts. Orthodox Jewish schools [...] Read more.
While Schmitt’s Political Theology paints modern theories of the state as secularized theological concepts, prominent threads of Jewish religious education in 20th century Jerusalem have moved in a different direction, that is, toward the re-sacralization of such secularized theological concepts. Orthodox Jewish schools in Jerusalem, or yeshivot, take an orthopractic approach to religious education as informing all aspects of life, rather than a delimited set of doctrines or beliefs. As such, questions of security fall within the purview Jewish religious education. To look more closely at the relationship between orthodox Jewish religious education, sanctity and security, I spent seven months enrolled as a student-observer in three Jerusalem yeshivot taking daily field notes, conducting interviews, attending classes, and studying related sacred texts. By examining both Jewish sacred texts and ethnographic data from contemporary Jerusalem yeshivot, this article highlights how geo-political ideals of security in modern Jerusalem are being re-sacralized by contemporizing ancient sacred texts and approaching religious education itself as a means of eliciting divine aid in the securitization process for Jewish Jerusalem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Education, Security)
Open AccessArticle The Educational Sociology and Political Theology of Disenchantment: From the Secularization to the Securitization of the Sacred
Religions 2019, 10(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010012
Received: 1 December 2018 / Revised: 14 December 2018 / Accepted: 18 December 2018 / Published: 27 December 2018
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Abstract
This article provides an outline theoretical synthesis of educational sociological and political theology, through the concept of ‘disenchantment’ to afford insights on critical current debates around secularization and securitization. Drawing together two originating frameworks—Max Weber’s (1918) sociological theorization of religious authority’s intellectual demise [...] Read more.
This article provides an outline theoretical synthesis of educational sociological and political theology, through the concept of ‘disenchantment’ to afford insights on critical current debates around secularization and securitization. Drawing together two originating frameworks—Max Weber’s (1918) sociological theorization of religious authority’s intellectual demise as disenchantment of the modern world and Carl Schmitt’s (1922) contemporaneous framing of a political theology—this article argues that a bringing together of these apparently disparate perspectives facilitates an understanding of securitization as a staging post in the history of the secularization of religion in education. Here an educational sociology and political theology of disenchantment thereby provides embryonic evidence of the securitization of the sacred as a staging post in the history of secularization. It is argued, in conclusion, that all these framings are a matter of decision-making in the exercise of ideological, political and theological power in and through education. Such decision-making in educational policy presents new sociological and political-theological territory for empirical and theoretical analysis of the shifting sources of authority amongst what C. Wright Mills called the “power elite”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Education, Security)
Open AccessArticle How and Why Education Counters Ideological Extremism in Finland
Religions 2018, 9(12), 420; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120420
Received: 29 November 2018 / Revised: 14 December 2018 / Accepted: 14 December 2018 / Published: 18 December 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (247 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The intensification of radical and extremist thinking has become an international cause of concern and the fear related to terrorism has increased worldwide. Early 21st century public discourses have been correspondingly marked by hate speech and ideological propaganda spread from a variety of [...] Read more.
The intensification of radical and extremist thinking has become an international cause of concern and the fear related to terrorism has increased worldwide. Early 21st century public discourses have been correspondingly marked by hate speech and ideological propaganda spread from a variety of perspectives through the intensified presence of global social media networks. In many countries, governments have reacted to these perceived and actual threats by drafting policies and preventive programs and legal-security interventions to tackle radicalization, terrorism itself, as well as ideological extremism. Many of the current strategies point to the critical role of societal education. As a result, educational institutions have gained growing importance as platforms for different kinds of prevention protocols or counter-terrorism strategies. However, notably less attention has been paid on the consistencies of values between the aims of the educational strategies for preventing or countering ideological extremism and the core functions of education in fostering individual and societal well-being and growth. Using Finnish education as a case, this paper discusses the challenges and possibilities related to educational institutions as spaces for preventing violent extremism, with special regard to the religious and nationalistic ideologies that divert from those inherent in the national hegemony. This study highlights the need to plan counter-terrorism strategies in line with national educational policies through what we conceptualize as ‘institutional habitus’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Education, Security)
Open AccessArticle Securing Security in Education: The Role of Public Theology and a Case Study in Global Jihadism
Religions 2018, 9(8), 244; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9080244
Received: 6 July 2018 / Accepted: 13 August 2018 / Published: 16 August 2018
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Abstract
The article mounts an argument for public theology as an appropriate if not vital adjunct to contemporary education’s addressing of security issues in light of current world events with indisputable religious and arguably quasi-theological foundations. It will briefly expound on the history of [...] Read more.
The article mounts an argument for public theology as an appropriate if not vital adjunct to contemporary education’s addressing of security issues in light of current world events with indisputable religious and arguably quasi-theological foundations. It will briefly expound on the history of thought that has marginalized theology as a public discipline and then move to justify the counter view that the discipline, at least in the form of public theology, has potential to address matters of such public concern in a unique and helpful way. The article will culminate with an exploration of Global Jihadism as a case study that illustrates the usefulness of public theology in understanding it better and so allowing for a response with potential to be more informed and security-assured than is commonly effected. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Education, Security)
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