Religious Education in Liberal Democratic Societies: The Question of Accountability and Autonomy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The essays in Part III of the book, on liberal constraints and traditionalist education, argue for a more regulatory conception of liberal education and emphasize the need for some controls over cultural and religious educational authority. Walter Feinberg's essay, on religious education in liberal-democratic societies in relation to the question of accountability and autonomy, takes up the issue of educational constraints with respect to religious schools in such societies. While he allows that religious education need not be inconsistent with liberal goals, and can find reasons why some liberal societies feel it appropriate to provide public support for religious schools, he argues that certain conditions can render such support tyrannical and unwise. He concludes that if the conditions are appropriate for public support of religious schools, then there should also be significant public control. After an introduction in Section 14.1, the chapter has six further sections: Section 14.2 discusses some of the potential lines of conflict between religious liberal education and public (common) education; Section 14.3 examines a number of arguments that have been advanced in support of public funding for religious schools; Section 14.4 looks at a potentially fundamental reason for denying public funding for religious schools - that it would be tyrannical to take tax funds from one believer in order to advance the beliefs of another - and the implications as regards the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; both Sections 14.4 and 14.5 suggest some of the conditions that need to be satisfied in order to supply this funding - primarily that it must be predicated on the school advancing individual and social autonomy; Section 14.6 briefly suggests what such an arrangement might entail for the traditional way in which the public/private divide is conceived; Section 14.7 concludes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCitizenship and Education in Liberal-Democratic Societies
Subtitle of host publicationTeaching for Cosmopolitan Values and Collective Identities
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191601972
ISBN (Print)9780199253661
StatePublished - Jan 20 2005


  • Accountability
  • Autonomy
  • Common education
  • Cultural authority
  • Educational authority
  • Individual autonomy
  • Liberal education
  • Liberal-democratic societies
  • Liberalism
  • Public control
  • Public education
  • Public funding
  • Public/private divide
  • Religious authority
  • Religious education
  • Religious liberal education
  • Religious schools
  • Social autonomy
  • Traditionalist education
  • United states
  • United states constitution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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