Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

British Journal of Religious Education

For a Special Issue on

Philosophy and Religious Education in Public Schools

Abstract deadline
30 November 2024

Manuscript deadline
31 May 2025

Cover image - British Journal of Religious Education

Special Issue Editor(s)

Patricia Hannam, University of Exeter, UK
[email protected]

Sally Elton-Chalcraft, University of Cumbria, UK
[email protected]

Fahimah Ulfat, University of Tubingen, Germany
[email protected]

Yonah Matemba, University of West Scotland, UK
[email protected]

Gunther Dietz, University of Veracruz, Mexico
[email protected]

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Philosophy and Religious Education in Public Schools

This Special Issue (SI) seeks to interrogate and problematise the relationship between philosophy and Religious Education (RE). The status of RE in education policy internationally almost always relates to historical relationships between religion/church and state in individual nations (see Bråten, 2014). It is notable that public education systems emerged in Western Europe at the same time as a renewed philosophical scrutiny of religion itself. Enlightenment critiques of religion offered by Spinoza and Hume, revisited by scholars including Hegel, Fichte, and Schelling (Oppy and Trakakis, 2014). RE took its place in public education systems in the context of secular, philosophical challenges to Christianity and other religions. This later included challenges from early/mid-20th century Anglo-American philosophy which often took an analytic and critical stance in relation to religion, questioning the status of belief in relation to knowledge. At this time much of education, influenced by other analytic philosophers, including Wittgenstein, resulted in a renewed questioning of RE. Conversations in the literature between and Paul Hirst (1965, 1970) and D. Z. Phillips (1970) formed a starting point for a recurring thread of scholarly debate (most recently see Hand 2007, 2012, 2014 and Cooling 2012, 2014), between philosophers and religious educationalists. This has served to influence international theoretical and practical RE research considerably.

Underexposed assumptions around the conceptualisation of knowledge, frequently set it apart from faith or belief. Such assumptions may also have led to an exclusive literature where non-Christian theologies and philosophies of RE (see Ahmed, 2018) and indigenous and non-European voices (see for example, Waghid, 2014) have been underrepresented in the literature. Recent work regarding RE as a colonial tool (see for example Jackson, 2014) and mitigating xenophobia (Hannam and Panjwani, 2021) have shown how incomplete philosophical discussion may have led to essentialised representations of religion in the classroom (Smith et al., 2018). Further, the focus on epistemological matters in RE in relation to truth claims (Wright, 2007; Stones and Frazer-Pearce, 2022), may have served to limit debate around RE’s pedagogy and purpose. Indeed, exploration of the political/philosophical position of RE in the public sphere itself should enable more informed discussions by teachers and researchers in relation to the relative, desired balance between religion and philosophy in school curricula.

For this SI we are keen to receive theoretical and empirical papers that critically examine the relationship between philosophy and religious education in RE debates internationally. It would be expected that paper proposals will demonstrate a clear grasp of different ways in which philosophy itself can be conceptualised and engage in a scholarly manner with this. The scope of this SI, whilst recognising the significance of previous discussions, seeks to identify a greater range of contemporary philosophies and classroom philosophical practices, as well as religious and worldview positions, from a variety of international contexts.

Special issue editors would be happy to receive enquiries prior to submission of abstracts. Papers submitted for consideration may be in response to the following questions:

  • What would be a rationale for philosophy to be taught in school (such as CoI/P4C Philosophy for Children), as well for religious education?
  • What do/could Islamic, South-Eastern Asian, or Indigenous cosmologies/philosophies for example, bring to discussions about purpose and content, as well as the refinement of theoretical basis for RE?
  • To what extent have philosophical arguments been influential in determining the content of and pedagogical proposals for teaching RE
  • How might philosophy of religion be reflected in the teaching of religious education?
  • How do philosophical assumptions about knowledge prevent or assist the decolonisation of the representation of religion in RE?


Ahmed, F. (2018). “An exploration of Naquib al-Attas’ theory of Islamic education as ta’dīb as an ‘indigenous’ educational philosophy,” Educational Philosophy and Theory, 50(8), pp. 786-794.

Bråten, O. M. (2014). “Are oranges the only fruit? A discussion of Comparative Studies in Religious Education in relation to the plural nature of the field internationally,” in Jäggle, M.,  Rothgangel, M.  and  Skeie, G. (Eds.) Religious education at schools in Europe: Part 3 Northern Europe, Vienna: Vienna University Press, pp. 19-44.

Cooling, T. (2012). “What is a controversial issue? Implications for the treatment of religious beliefs in education,” Journal of Beliefs & Values, 33(2), pp. 169-181.

Cooling, T. (2014). “The epistemic criterion: A response to Michael Hand,” Journal of Beliefs & Values, 35(1), pp. 86-89.

Hannam, P., and Panjwani, F. (2020). “Religious education and the potential for mitigating xenophobia. Journal of Religious Education, 68(3), pp.  385-396.

Hand, M. (2007). “Should We Teach Homosexuality as a Controversial Issue?” Theory and Research in Education, 5(1), pp. 69–86.

Hand, M. (2012). “What’s in a worldview? On Trevor Cooling’s doing God in education,” Oxford Review of Education, 38(5), pp. 527-537.

Hand, M. (2014). “Religion, reason and non-directive teaching: A reply to Trevor Cooling,” Journal of Beliefs & Values, 35(1), pp.  79-85.

Hirst, P. H. (1965). “Morals, religion and the maintained school,” British Journal of Educational Studies, 14(1), pp.  5-18.

Hirst, P. H. (1970).  Philosophy and religious education: A reply to D. Z. Phillips, British Journal of Educational Studies, 18(2), pp. 213-215.

Jackson, S. (2014). “‘In Accord with British Traditions’: The Rise of Compulsory Religious Education in Ontario, Canada, and Victoria, Australia, 1945–50,” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 42(4), pp. 693-709.

Phillips D. Z. (1970) “Philosophy and religious education,” British Journal of Educational Studies, 18(1), pp. 5-17.

Oppy, G., and Trakakis, N. N. (2014). Nineteenth-Century Philosophy of Religion: The History of Western Philosophy of Religion, London: Routledge.

Smith, D., Nixon, G. and Pearce, J. (2018). “Bad Religion as False Religion: An Empirical Study of UK Religious Education Teachers’ Essentialist Religious Discourse,” Religions, [online] 9(11): (accessed 20 November 2023)

Stones, A., and Fraser-Pearce, J. (2022). “Epistemic Literacy as an Aim for Religious Education and Implications for Teacher Education,” International Perspectives on Knowledge and Quality: Implications for Innovation in Teacher Education Policy and Practice, 87.

Waghid, Y. (2014). “African philosophy of education as a response to human rights violations: Cultivating Ubuntu as a virtue in religious education,” Journal for the Study of Religion, 27(1), pp. 267-282.



Submission Instructions

  • At the top of the abstract, please provide full name, title, and affiliation of authors, along with a complete mailing address, contact information and primary discipline/area of work for each.
  • Please clearly indicate the title of your paper. Proposals should explain the paper’s objectives or purpose and ensure that it falls within the call of the paper. Proposals should describe the paper’s conceptual perspectives or theoretical framework, research methods/modes of inquiry (including data sources, evidence, and materials), and at least an outline of the paper’s results and/or substantiated conclusions or warrants for arguments/point of view (main argument). Proposals should present the scholarly significance of the paper related to the SI.
  • Proposals should be no longer than 500 words.  Proposals should be sent by email to: Prof Sally Elton-Chalcraft ([email protected]).
  • Full papers should be no more than 6000 words, inclusive of tables, references, figure captions, footnotes, and endnotes.
  • For format, style and referencing of full papers, please visit BJRE website for detailed information: Submit to British Journal of Religious Education (
  • Submission of abstracts by authors: 30thSeptember 2024.
  • Announcement of accepted abstracts: 30th November 2024.
  • Submission of full papers:  31st May 2025. Submission will be via BJRE ScholarOne - and ticking ‘Special Issue: Philosophy and Religious Education in Public Schools (Taylor & Francis Group ( If you do not have an account on BJRE ScholarOne, please register.
  • Accepted papers for publication will appear on BJRE online before the launch of the SI.
  • We anticipate papers will be published in the SI: January-February 2026.
  • Accepted papers will be published online before the official publication date of the Special Issue.


Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article