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Religion, Education, and Law

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The Convergence of Normativities in the Ethics and Religious Culture Program in Québec

image of Journal of Law, Religion and State

Religion and state, more specifically religion and law, and religion and education are sub-fields that have received considerable scholarly attention. The interstices between these fields have been much less scrutinized, although it is within these spaces where the particular normativities produced and managed by state, law, and religion can be critically assessed, and where the nature of their interaction can be evaluated. We examine the intersecting normativities of religion with the secular public sphere, with education, and with the law, and their discursive fields with respect to the Programme d’Éthique et culture religieuse (ECR) of the Québec Ministry of Education. The distinct interests associated with these discursive fields meet at bases of common concern: religious pluralism, accommodation, and social cohesion. A common discourse emerges here that is informed by what critics identify as the World Religions Paradigm (WRP). Rather than examine the ECR simply with respect to its dependence on the WRP, we show how the discourses of the general public, education, and law in Québec and Canada meet to reinforce the WRP to produce a singular normativity that determines the shape of public discourses and representations of religion. In its effort to manage religious freedom and promote multiculturalism, the state (legislatively, legally, and educationally) generates the concrete terms by which citizens are to enact both. The logic of the overlapping normativities in the management of religious freedom and promotion of religious pluralism by the state creates the concrete terms by which religious identity and citizenship are defined.

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor University of Sudbury, Canada, ; 2: Assistant Professor University of Sudbury, Canada,


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