Teaching or PreachingProf. Stan van Hooft (Deakin University)
200 Berkeley Street
Abstract: I elaborate on the theoretical framework – that of Millian liberalism – which Max Charlesworth brought to many public issues, including that of the relation between education and religion. I will then to apply this framework to a debate in which I have been recently involved myself: a debate around the provision of religious instruction in public schools. In the first section I expound Charlesworth’s rejection of secularism in education in a liberal pluralist state, and his defence of faith-based schooling. In the second section I uncover the religious motivations behind the Victorian government’s 1950 amendments to the apparently secularist Victorian Education Act of 1872. In section three, I explore the notion of secularism more fully and suggest that the tensions between those who espouse religious instruction in state schools and those who oppose it are symptoms of deeper stresses within the culture of modernist, liberal states.
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