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Religious education in public schools – juridical dispositions

In Germany, religious education is governed by article 7 of the Basic Law. Placing the entire curriculum under public control, this article implements religious education as a regular teaching (...)

In Germany, religious education is governed by article 7 of the Basic Law. Placing the entire curriculum under public control, this article implements religious education as a regular teaching subject in public schools, except in non-confessional schools. Parents can however decide for their child to follow religious lessons or not. From the age of 14, pupils can themselves decide to follow these lessons or not. No teacher can be forced to teach religion against his or her will.
As regards the content of religious teaching, the Basic Law stipulates that the religious education shall respect the principles of the religious communities without prejudicing the right of control by the State. Traditionally, religious lessons are organised by the Catholic and the Protestant Churches, the majority of the Länder imposing to follow a secular teaching of moral education (Ethik) to all the students who don’t belong to one of those communities.
The mere exception in the regulation governed by article 7 is the Bremen clause (art.141 of the Basic Law) which states: the first sentence of paragraph 3 of Article 7 shall not apply in any Land in which Land law provided otherwise on January 1, 1949. This clause is currently applied in the Länder of Bremen, Brandenburg and Berlin.

For further information, see the article "Religion in public education" of Hans Michael Heinig in Gerhard Robbers (Hrsg.), Religion in Public Education – La religion dans l’éducation publique, European Consortium for Church and State Research, Trier, 2011, 167-194.

D 18 July 2012    AMatthias Koenig AMiriam Schader

Teachers wearing the Islamic headscarf

Analysis of the legal debates concerning public school teachers wearing headscarves, read article "Staat - Kirche - Kopftuch" by Michael Heinig.

Analysis of the legal debates concerning public school teachers wearing headscarves, read article "Staat - Kirche - Kopftuch" by Michael Heinig.

D 19 July 2012   

Denominational Islamic teaching at primary school

For the first time in Germany, denominational Islamic teaching has been introduced into around 20 primary schools in Hesse in time for the 2013/14 school year, in conformity with Article 7.3 of (...)

For the first time in Germany, denominational Islamic teaching has been introduced into around 20 primary schools in Hesse in time for the 2013/14 school year, in conformity with Article 7.3 of the Basic Law; it is modelled on Catholic or Protestant teaching delivered in state schools.
The DITIB (Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs) and the Muslim community Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat were designated as discussion partners of the Ministry of Education in Hesse in order to implement these courses. Some 440 pupils in the first year of primary school will be involved. It will be extended year after year to higher classes.
The courses are delivered in German by Muslim teachers who already teach other subjects. While legislation in Hesse prohibits wearing of the headscarf for female Muslim teachers and more generally within public office, they are authorised to wear a headscarf as a special dispensation within the framework of the lessons on religion.

For more information, see Frankfurter Rundschau and Focus.

January 2014

D 28 January 2014    ASylvie Toscer-Angot

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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