Religious Education, the Law and the Courts in National and International Contexts
Virtual Special Issue Edition Editorial
It has long been recognised that education policy is generally a product and reflection of national cultural, economic, political and legal factors (see Bereday 1964). Here we focus exclusively on legal factors alone, as they have particular properties worthy of specific attention, through a Virtual Special Issue (VSI), which is also a call for papers for a Special Edition of new articles for 2022. This Virtual Special Edition curates previously published articles from over eight decades, illustrating some perennial issues and challenges, both in the UK and internationally, and thereby acts as a catalyst for new scholarship and research for a later Special Edition.
In the UK, the various Acts of 1870, 1944 and 1988 have been central in the creation and reform of religious education – in ways unlike any other curriculum subject. The courts have also been significant: most recently the arguments for including humanism in the subject have been bolstered by the Fox case. Around the world, in other countries, legislation and judicial judgements have impacted on what can be taught, such as the Scopes trial of 1925 in the US, prohibiting the teaching of evolution (Larson 1997), or the loi Ferry of 1882 in France, establishing the principle of laicité.
Abdurrahman Hendek and Nigel Fancourt
Summary of the articles
The first issue of ‘Religion in Education’, the original predecessor of ‘British Journal of Religious Education’, was published in 1934, sixty-four years after the Forster Act of 1870, which laid the basis of universal and compulsory elementary education in the UK and had clauses pertaining to religious education. In the very first issue of the journal, Lord Irwin, President of the Board of Education, 1932-1935, lamented that ‘the organisation of religious education’, referring to Forster and subsequent acts, ‘presented difficulties’ and ‘in fact made the subject the Cinderella of the schools’ (Irwin 1934, 4), which showed the uneasy relationship between religious education and legislation. In the early days of the Journal, legislation was not tackled directly, but this was about to change ten years after its first issue.
Please enjoy the articles below with free-access via this page only until December 31, 2020.