Coming Out Religiously: Life Orientation in Public Schools

Cok Bakker*, Ina ter Avest

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the post-pillarized society of the Netherlands, formal religious education still is structured according to religious dividing lines. "Religion" in confessional schools is a compulsory subject; in public schools, taking a so-called neutral position with regard to religious traditions, "Religion" is an optional subject (Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Islamic religious education or Humanistic World View Education), taught to pupils on parents' request. Nowadays, due to processes of modernization, globalization, and individualization, the position of religion in society has changed and subsequently the position of "Religion" as a subject in classes has changed. These days for principals and teachers in public schools it is urgent to reflect on their positionality regarding (religious and secular) worldview education. In this contribution we present our findings from document analysis and from (focus group) interviews with principals, and from observations in public schools, resulting in a plea for "Life Orientation for all" as a compulsory subject in all schools for all pupils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-423
Number of pages17
JournalReligious Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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