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Public Religious Pedagogy: Linking Public Theology, Social Theory and Educational Theory

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This paper addresses the relationship of public theology and education, a field of research that has been neglected in theology as well as in educational theory and religious pedagogy. It does so by firstly analyzing the discourse in the public sphere at the intersection of theology and religious education in Germany, and secondly by drawing on the social theories of John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas to provide a framework for relating public theology and (religious) education. In the German context the rediscovery and revaluing of the political dimension of public religious education has led to the evolving concept of ‘public religious pedagogy’, with obvious analogies to public theology—a concept that may have the potential to become a new paradigm in the academic discipline of religious pedagogy. Systematically, the article advances the hypothesis that philosophical discourse on the question of ‘how citizens who remain deeply divided on religious, philosophical, and moral doctrines, can still maintain a just and stable democratic society’ (John Rawls) corresponds to the discourse in educational philosophy and educational science on the question of how a consensus on major objectives of public education in general and the role of religion in this context in particular can be reached. It will be demonstrated that the academic discourse around religious education can benefit from dialogue and interaction with the social theories of (the later) Rawls and Habermas.

Affiliations: 1: University of Erlangen-NürnbergGermany


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