What are the disadvantages of interfaith marriages

Recommendations for interreligious education in day-care centers

Religion has become a major public issue in recent years. The fact that living together in a multi-religious society, which is not only multi-cultural but also multi-religious, is one of the central challenges in the present and future is no longer controversial in Germany. There is also a clear consensus that education doesn't just begin at school. The importance of education, especially in the early years of life, is generally recognized, and corresponding tasks with a view to the effective promotion of children “from the very beginning” are increasingly being represented. Last but not least, the daycare center was rightly discovered as a place of education.

Against this double background, it is almost incomprehensible that interreligious education in daycare centers has not yet become a central topic - neither in practice nor in politics, science and the public. Even the widely advocated introduction of Islamic religious instruction, especially in elementary schools, has not yet led to a corresponding change in awareness in the elementary sector. But what sense would it make to finally guarantee religious accompaniment to as many primary school children as possible, but to deny it to the children in the elementary sector? In particular, the denominational supporting associations and academic religious education have been trying to develop appropriate concepts for years, but the reality or practice of interreligious education in daycare centers in Germany has not yet received the necessary attention in ministerial reports or in research.

This deficit was the starting point for a nationwide representative study, which - with the support of the Ravensburger Verlag Foundation - has been carried out at the two chairs for Protestant and Catholic religious education at the University of Tübingen in recent years. This investigation, which referred to the children themselves as well as to the teachers and the parents, revealed a great deal of catching up to do with regard to interreligious education3.

Before we go into more detail about some of the findings that form the starting point for this declaration, let us begin with a note about our understanding of interreligious education and the terms we use.

We consciously speak of interreligious education in order to emphasize that this area is also about genuine educational tasks and that education cannot be limited to the so-called PISA areas, i.e. to language, mathematics and natural sciences. In the institutions themselves, however, there has so far been less talk of (inter) religious education than of upbringing. However, our inquiries in the context of the empirical investigation showed that it is more a question of linguistic habits and therefore not of a content-related contrast such as “upbringing instead of education”.

Furthermore, we focus on interreligious education, which is closely related to intercultural education or, as it is often called, intercultural learning, but which also differs from it. We assume a multi-layered relationship between culture and religion. The two cannot be separated from one another: culture determines religion, but religion also determines culture. Intercultural learning remains inadequate without taking the interreligious dimension into account. Turkish culture, for example, cannot be properly understood without the influence of Islam. Our interreligious focus is not to be understood as isolating this dimension, but as a conscious profiling of the hitherto largely neglected aspect of interreligious education.

The findings of the empirical representative survey of kindergarten teachers in Germany initially make it clear that a multi-religious composition of children in the institutions has now become an everyday requirement across the country. This also applies to denominational and non-denominational institutions. From a quantitative point of view, there are three groups that deserve special mention from a religious or ideological point of view: Christian children, children without religious affiliation and Muslim children. In addition, minorities such as Jewish children come into focus, which must also not be ignored. The multi-religious composition of the children's groups means that a (religious) pedagogically sensitive approach to religious and ideological differences can be described as a general task of day-care centers. It should also be borne in mind that it is not only the current composition of children's groups that is decisive for this task, but also the relation to life in a multicultural and multireligious society as a whole. In this respect, no institution - for example due to a catchment area that is perhaps particularly homogeneous - can exempt itself from this task. It should also be emphasized that the task of interreligious education can by no means be limited to institutions that are denominationally sponsored. All children have the right to religion and competent religious guidance, regardless of the type of institution they are in. Since the adoption of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child, this right has also been officially documented.4

From this perspective, the research findings show that there is an enormous amount of catching up to do in terms of religious accompaniment and interreligious education. The importance of intercultural education has so far been rated significantly higher in the institutions than that of interreligious education. This could be attributed to the fact that the proportion of children with a migration background is naturally somewhat larger than that of children from parental homes with a non-Christian background. However, the information provided by the kindergarten teachers shows that the proportion of institutions in which different religions are present is almost as large as that of institutions with children with a migration background. The findings also show that the sometimes held view that intercultural education automatically includes interreligious education, as it were, does not correspond to reality in day-care centers. The interreligious sensitivity in the day-care center has so far been significantly lower than the intercultural one.

This needs to be pointed even further: the importance of interreligious education has so far not been sufficiently recognized in most institutions. In this respect, interreligious education in the elementary sector represents a future task that has yet to be discovered in practice or, in any case, has to be taken up much more strongly than before. Fortunately, it is also becoming apparent that there are at least a number of institutions that expressly attach great importance to corresponding tasks. The experiences of such institutions are described in this volume as best practice examples. Obviously, these institutions are already making pioneering achievements today, and sometimes for years, with a view to interreligious education.

The successes achieved in this way can be seen as evidence of corresponding possibilities. What is desirable here is practical learning from practical experience, which is to be supported by the presentation of best practice examples. Impetus from practice for practice has a particularly important function in the present context. Because again and again - quite rightly - the enormous difficulties that stand in the way of an increased perception of interreligious educational tasks in the day care center are pointed out. In the first place, the question is mentioned, how a teacher who belongs to the Protestant or Catholic Church or who is without a denomination should offer Muslim children competent religious support or whether Muslim teachers should be employed for this. In the following, such difficulties are worked out in unvarnished form and tasks and perspectives, for example for training and further education, are discussed.

Interreligious Education in Day Care: Tasks and Opportunities

The challenges are obvious: According to the estimates of the educators, almost every ninth child in daycare centers in Germany has an Islamic religion - and the trend is still increasing. 84% of the respondents state that there are children with a migrant background in their group, and with regard to different religious affiliations, the figure is 77%. More than three quarters of the educators surveyed encounter the question of how relationships between children with different religious affiliations and religious backgrounds can be adequately taken into account, based on the composition of their own children's group.

The presence of different religions is not just a question of membership. It also directly affects everyday life in the facilities. For example, 58% of kindergarten teachers report that children are not allowed to eat certain foods in their facility for religious reasons. Religious questions are therefore present in the everyday life of the institutions.

Even beyond the children's groups in the day care center, the children encounter interreligious questions in an everyday way - be it through the media or be it in the form of public perceptions. And finally, all children who grow up in Germany today will have to cope with a multi-religious and multi-cultural society in the long term.

In summary, it can be said that day care centers are places where children and adults of very different nationalities, cultures and religions come together in a special way. This explains the urgency of interreligious education, which, according to empirical findings, is largely not yet recognized in the institutions, or at least hardly taken up in practice. The examples described in this volume show that there are also tried and tested possibilities for successful interreligious educational work in day-care centers.

Successful interreligious education is based on openness, respect and appreciation for other cultures and religions. Tolerance and respect as well as mutual recognition are central goals for the educational work. They do not only apply from school age, but must also determine the work in the daycare from the beginning in a child-friendly form.

This includes giving all children comprehensive support in the process of growing up in a plurality, also from a religious point of view. Such accompaniment is not guaranteed everywhere, even for Christian children - especially in communal institutions, religious educational tasks are only performed by some of the institutions - sometimes due to the incorrect legal opinion that religious accompaniment of children is not permitted in communal institutions5. As a rule, competent religious accompaniment for Muslim children has not yet been offered in the facilities.

In the future, both should interlock: for each individual child a religious accompaniment, which is based on the respective religious affiliation, on the corresponding character and on the parental home, as well as an interreligious education that aims to strengthen the interreligious sensitivity of all children.

Interreligious education is to be understood as peace education and peace education as interreligious education. Both aim at active and reflected tolerance in the sense of mutual recognition, respect and solidarity with one another.

Specifically, this means:

Interreligious education must be firmly anchored in the day-to-day practice of the daycare center.

The educational offerings of the institutions must be designed in such a way that the children are able to: acquire knowledge about other religions in order to be able to understand what they often perceive with other children in the institution; to get to know the forms of expression and practice of other religions through personal experience; To develop attitudes and attitudes that are characterized by openness and tolerance, respect and recognition; to communicate religiously with other children and thus acquire religious language skills beyond the boundaries of one's own religious community. There are numerous ways to do this. The following are to be named as examples:

  • Signaling to children and their parents that they are open to their religion as well as the willingness to talk about religious questions;
  • Become sensitive to religious questions of children and strengthen the child in his own religiosity;
  • Perceiving religious orientation needs and consciously taking them up in everyday pedagogical life, e.g. B. Children's questions about God, about death and dying;
  • Plan time and space to support the children in their own religious identity formation and to lead them to interreligious exchange;
  • Address the experiences of children and families, especially with regard to religious festivals with all children: Advent and Christmas, but also Ramadan and the festival of sacrifice;
  • Make religion and religions an everyday experience in the day care center, e.g. B. Read or tell stories aloud and make it clear to the children: This is from the Bible, the book of Christians; this story is in the Koran, the book of Muslims. It can also be seen that important figures such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus appear in both the Bible and the Koran;
  • Networking with the community, also in religious terms, for example with church or mosque communities;
  • Visits and explorations of churches, mosques and synagogues with as many children as possible.

The concern of interreligious education should be made clearly visible in the mission statement of institutions as well as in their conception.

It must be made clear that all children are equally welcome in the facility, especially with their different religious and cultural backgrounds. In addition, it should be made clear that this openness is also aimed at mutual getting to know and understanding, tolerance and appreciation. The following could be shown in detail:

  • How do we live religion with the children?
  • What kind of religious educational support does the day care center offer the various children?
  • How should interreligious and intercultural education be supported?
  • Why is it so important to value others with their religion too?

The material and spatial equipment of every institution, geared towards interreligious education, must become a general standard.

Even when furnishing a facility, children and parents must feel that all children, regardless of their religious origin, are offered suggestions. The design of the rooms also plays an important role. The design of spaces is an important pedagogical prerequisite for interreligious education. At the same time, interreligious openness can also be experienced on this level. In detail, this includes:

  • Different cultures and religions are represented in pictures, books, toys and other items of equipment.
  • Such items of equipment should be placed in such a way that they can be easily perceived when parents come across the facility for the first time, for example in the design of the entrance area and the other rooms with images and symbols.
  • The minimum equipment aimed at interreligious education must give children the opportunity, for example, to get a picture book off the shelf, to look at it for themselves and to ask questions about it to the educator.

No interreligious education without parental work - no parental work without reference to interreligious education!

Work with parents has now become a separate field of activity for daycare centers, as the emergence of family centers, parent-child centers and mothers' centers shows. A special opportunity for day-care centers arises from the fact that the teachers often meet the parents every day when the children are brought and picked up. There are short distances here, opportunities for conversations between the two sides and, above all, low-threshold access and contacts.

However, the highlighted encounters should also be used to clarify questions related to religion, for example when a child is registered. Many institutions also have their own programs for parenting education, at parenting evenings or at special events. The following are to be mentioned in detail:

  • Religious and religious-pedagogical questions should also be addressed during the initial consultation. Parents have a right to know what is being offered to their children in this regard and how the facility welcomes religious diversity in society. This also includes the corresponding explanation of the conception of a facility. Conversely, parents should be asked which religious or cultural influences and practices are particularly important to them.
  • The facility must know what special considerations are required for a particular child - for example, in the case of religious dietary regulations or clothing.
  • Strengthening the pedagogical competence of the parents also in religious terms, through religion-sensitive recognition and through targeted offers of parenting education.
  • Use the religious competence of parents, for example at religious festivals: A Muslim mother can explain to the children in the facility how the family celebrates Ramadan. Or, when talking to children about death and dying, for example, a Muslim and a Christian mother can talk about their ideas in the group.
  • Right from the start, it must be signaled to the parents that they are perceived as openly and sensitively in the facility. Therefore, in particular, general, sometimes prejudiced classifications based on religious affiliation are to be avoided. Within the religions there are big differences, especially in the way in which religion is lived in families.
  • Special attention also requires the religious situation of children in families where the parents belong to different religions and who often find it particularly difficult to offer the children religious accompaniment.
  • With regard to the work of parents, sponsorship plays an important role: Church-sponsored institutions should convey to parents with other religions that they are welcome here with their religion and that the children should not be dissuaded from their beliefs or that of their parents. Communal institutions should make it clear that they too are open to religion and religions and that they are concerned with providing religious education to children
  • endeavor without violating the rights of children and parents who do not want a religious upbringing.

Elementary educational professionalism also includes dealing with religion and religions as well as performing religious educational tasks in accompanying the children. Kindergarten teachers must therefore clarify their professional and personal relationship to this task and strive for appropriate competence.

The personality of the educator plays a decisive role, especially in the elementary sector. This also applies from a religious point of view. Since religious education skills are often neglected in training, special personal efforts are required in this regard. In detail this means:

  • Become aware of your own religious attitude or attitude. In addition to your own religious biography (what did I experience or not? How does this determine me, positive or negative?), Other religions must also be included (How do I see and judge other religions? How do I see faith in other religions? ). Questions from non-denominational or religiously uninterested educators must also be considered (what do I do if I am not religious myself, but want to be active in religious education?).
  • Strive for tolerance and appreciation of the religiously alien, for example by becoming aware of one's own and other people's prejudices.
  • Strengthen your own competencies for Christianity, Islam and Judaism and also for other religions, above all by participating in appropriate advanced training courses.
  • Conscious perception of parent contacts as an opportunity for interreligious conversations.

Religion, religions and interreligious education should be regularly on the agenda in the team of educators.

Interreligious education can best be perceived when the offer is supported by the whole team. In any case, clarifying discussions and reliable agreements in the team are required. In detail, the following aspects are decisive:

  • The openness to different religious influences must apply to all employees in the team.
  • This also includes openness and mutual acceptance (everyone is welcome with their religiosity and non-religiosity). The work in the team must be consciously designed towards this goal.
  • Religious diversity in the team can be used to allow others to participate in one's own skills and to learn from one another. Mutual relief can also be useful, for example in institutions in which the necessary commitment is not equally given for all educators.
  • The planning of interreligious offers should be done in a team.
  • Invitations from representatives of various religious communities can contain the opportunity for better information and further training. In addition, they strengthen the networking of the institution in the community.

Tasks for the porters

Educators have to feel supported by the providers of their institution, especially with the sometimes difficult tasks of interreligious education. There must be no doubt that interreligious education and intercultural communication in the daycare center are also absolutely desirable on the part of the sponsors. In particular, the following requirements must be guaranteed:

  • Clear communication structures that underline the importance of interreligious education for the institutions and enable reliable communication between those responsible on the sponsoring side and the educators, also as a basis for constructive-critical feedback for further development. The assignment to the day-care centers must be designed transparently and programmatically developed further. It is extremely important to recognize the interreligious educational work of the educators as a difficult, time-consuming and sometimes controversial area that calls for special innovations. The often lamented lack of more intensive cooperation between the sponsors and the daycare team can thus be overcome; In addition, frustrations and tendencies towards isolation are prevented.
  • The providers must ensure that the educators have enough time and resources to take advantage of further training offers in the field of interreligious education. This also includes the possibilities of collegial counseling, which has already been successfully practiced in some places, in which educators from different institutions exchange ideas and pass on their experiences, also through occasional work in another institution. In view of tighter time budgets in the institutions and competing demands for further training, the area of ​​qualification for interreligious education requires special attention and support from the providers. We urgently recommend the development of a training plan for the educators, in which the right to further training by exemption is recorded and at the same time a fixed value is assigned to interreligious educational tasks.
  • Those responsible on the sponsoring side should regularly take part in local or regional training events themselves, so that an exchange and quality discussion can take place at this level as well. In denominational institutions it is important that the responsible pastors support the institutions with interreligious questions. The sponsors are also confronted with new demands due to the challenges of interreligious education. For example, in some institutions the admission of Muslim children - in what number or in what relation to Christian and non-religious children - must be clarified. Transparent framework specifications and open communication are decisive prerequisites for work in the institutions in the interreligious area, which are essential for further development - both in terms of professional standards and the motivation of employees.
  • The sponsor must clarify for himself what importance is to be attached to the religious educational accompaniment of all children, how the religious rights of all children are to be protected and how existing concepts are therefore to be further developed and communicated. This applies to denominational daycare centers as well as to non-denominational providers. Especially with a view to residential areas in which parents have little or no alternatives when choosing a daycare center, it must not be left to chance whether children are given the opportunity to be accompanied by religious education. We would strongly advise against accepting only Catholic and Protestant children in denominational day-care centers and referring Muslim children to communal institutions. Conversely, it is recommended that Muslim day-care centers also accept Christian children. The religiously mixed composition of children's groups, which can often be found today, enables interreligious and intercultural education in a different quality and intensity than if the daycare were only attended by children of the same religious affiliation.
  • The ideas of the denominational bearers regarding the church also need to be clarified. In many places, daycare centers are also assigned the task of church socialization and the development of ties to the church community. Here it must become clear how such expectations relate to the mandate of religious accompaniment for all children and what the church mandate means for the task of interreligious education. The task of daycare centers does not arise from church needs or expectations, but is based on the children and the educational opportunities that are to be opened up to them.
  • A special question concerns the employment of Muslim educators. While numerous countries of origin are now represented in the daycare teams, the composition of the teams is far less diverse in terms of religious affiliation. The majority of the kindergarten teachers are either Protestant or Catholic. In addition, there are mainly non-denominational teachers. At least 11% of the kindergarten teachers state that there is also a Muslim woman in the team. This is noteworthy in that denominational carriers in general, i. H. with limited and precisely defined exceptions that exclude the employment of Muslim educators. The question that arises at this point concerns the competent accompaniment of Muslim children in the facilities. From this point of view, it would be desirable to have more Muslim teachers in the facilities. At the same time, however, the empirical findings make it clear that such a measure alone does not represent a solution. Because in the non-denominational institutions, the educators are often unsure whether - beyond their own religious affiliation in the sense of membership in Islam, for example - relevant content in the everyday life of the institutions is allowed to play a role at all. Apparently there is a considerable need for clarification here. In the case of denominational institutions, the question arises as to how the Christian profile can be combined with Muslim educators. In both cases, therefore, a clear description of the objectives must first be developed, which refers to the pedagogical and religious pedagogical possibilities opened up by the cooperation of Muslim educators. It would also be desirable to have your own scientific support in the development and practice of such target descriptions and concepts.

Requirements for education and training

The demands placed on daycare centers make high-profile training and advanced training concepts necessary for interreligious and intercultural education. According to the information provided by the educators, they feel that their training is not sufficiently prepared, in particular for the challenges of religious diversity and for dealing with non-Christian religions. The information also makes it clear that religious education tasks were only partially carried out during the training. In this respect, such tasks will have to be given greater consideration and support during training in the future, but currently especially in advanced training.

  • A clear religious pedagogical focus must be set in the training in all training centers. Interreligious and intercultural education must be feasible in all institutions. Interreligious education with a view to children, but also in the work of parents, must therefore gain elementary and indispensable importance in the compulsory area of ​​training and further education.
  • Religious festivals often play a prominent role in the life and experience of children and families. Therefore, educators must be particularly familiar with the meaning of such festivals. It is important that the festivals and festivals of the various religions to which the children belong are also understood from their inner meaning. The content and goal of the training must be the religious-educational reflection of the celebration of these festivals in the day-care center and the question of their feasibility. For many people, religious festivals are related to their beliefs. That's why not everyone can celebrate these festivals, not even in daycare. This has consequences especially for the Muslim festivals. As a rule, Christian educators cannot understand Ramadan as authentically as, for example, Christmas. For this reason, further training offers, but also cooperation in training, in which Muslim experts are involved, are necessary. Another focus should be on the now well-proven model of “interreligious hospitality”, in which mothers with the corresponding religious affiliation are specifically invited to the facility in order to give lively reports on their own celebration.
  • Training and advanced training concepts should also be developed under the aspect of personal closeness and distance to different religions, but also to religion as a whole. Children have a very keen sense of whether a certain festival is also important for the teachers themselves. Particularly careful and reflective interaction is required here - guided by mutual respect and religiously sensitive recognition.
  • The development of modules for practice and their introduction in the respective daycare center could be of key importance for further development. In training and further education, models that have already been tried and tested in practice should therefore be specifically included in the sense of collegial advice and support for change processes.
  • Issues of conflict between the various religions must also not be excluded. For example, Christianity and Islam differ significantly in their concept of God. The Koran calls Jesus a “prophet”, but Islam does not, like Christianity, assume that God became man in Jesus of Nazareth. At the same time, the similarities between the religions must not be ignored, for example that in all three monotheistic religions God is the creator of the world.
  • The following can also apply as a programmatic target definition for training and further education: Strengthening common ground - doing justice to differences. In interreligious educational processes, it is crucial to perceive and appreciate the similarities on all levels - also emotionally - but at the same time also to understand and recognize the differences and to do justice to the children in this respect as well. This is an important didactic guideline for basic and advanced training. In Protestant-Catholic cooperation - the so-called “confessional cooperation”, for example in religious instruction - it has already proven itself in practice in many cases6 and, in a correspondingly modified form, can also be applied to interreligious-pedagogical cooperation. The different profiles of the religious paths are not simply sanded down, but become an important part of the interreligious exchange and cooperation themselves. This also creates special opportunities for the children. Where the commonalities of all children are emphasized and at the same time the particularity of each individual child is recognized and taken into account, children are supported in their personal development and they can develop skills for dealing with religious and other conflict issues. If educators are to acquire competencies for these tasks of interreligious education in the training and further education, this also requires the participation of members of different religions, so that appropriate encounters and clarification processes are possible.
  • If educators are given the opportunity to discuss and reflect on problems that arise in their practice directly with the trainers, they are not only trained professionally and sensitized to the content, but also motivated and strengthened for interreligious educational work, to reduce reservations and to clarify their own point of view .

Perspectives for (educational) policy

When it comes to education policy, a far-reaching neglect of interreligious educational tasks cannot be overlooked. Interreligious education and its prerequisites have so far been taken up so seldom with regard to the elementary sector that it has to be spoken of a repression. Failure to do so, which extends into the responsible federal and state ministries, does not allow the development of sustainable future prospects for coexistence in a multi-religious society and must therefore be subjected to a fundamental, at the same time political and scientific clarification process. Blocking attitudes do not lead any further in this area and are, not least, completely inappropriate to the challenging situation in the daycare centers.Even if it might seem understandable if politics would prefer to stay out of religiously sensitive and conflict-prone contexts, it will be able to get around a clearer positioning with regard to interreligious education in the elementary sector and, above all, the development of strategies.6

If you analyze the state church law situation in Germany, then religious education in the school area is mainly secured by Articles 7 and 3 of the Basic Law, but also by Article 4 on the free practice of religion, which expressly guarantees religious practice, especially for the public sector. The fact that corresponding provisions on religious and interreligious education - apart from the new orientation and education plans for the elementary sector, which at least in part also identify the area of ​​religious education and which are therefore specifically discussed below - are still missing, indicates a legal one and political pent-up demand. Frequently recurring questions, tensions and conflicts make it clear that clear regulations are also required in this area.

In addition, politicians must be asked to support elementary educational institutions with the tasks of interreligious education far more decisively than has been the case up to now. Last but not least, this includes that the responsible ministries ensure that the religious affiliation of children and parents is no longer ignored or concealed in their educational and social reports. The child and youth welfare statistics must also be expanded to include appropriate survey criteria. The migration background, which has rightly received much attention in the meantime, also includes many different religious affiliations, in particular affiliation with Islam. In politics, too, it apparently applies that it is much easier to treat intercultural education as isolated interreligious education. In this way, however, possible tensions and conflicts are only suppressed and at the same time opportunities are given away that arise from the conscious perception of interreligious educational tasks.

A realistic picture of the situation and the related pedagogical and religious-pedagogical tasks can only be obtained if, in addition to mere religious affiliation, the forms of religion actually lived in the parents' homes are included in their diversity and diversity. Therefore, religion-related empirical studies on parents and children are urgently needed. The fact that such topics have so far rarely or almost never appeared in the tendering of research programs and projects indicates that politicians have a clear need to catch up. Interreligious education requires scientific support - no less than other areas of education.

Orientation and education plans

A welcome expression of the new recognition of the educational mandate and the educational significance of the daycare center are the orientation and educational plans that were created a few years ago and are now available in all federal states. For the first time, it is consistently made visible that the elementary level is not just about care and upbringing, but also about education.

In many, if not all, federal states, these plans specifically identify educational tasks in the area of ​​“meaning, values, religion” and provide information on how to work in a subject and child-oriented manner. In this way, at least in some federal states, religious education tasks are made binding in all institutions, at least to the extent that these plans themselves have already become binding. Religious accompaniment, upbringing and education are rightly not limited to institutions with denominational sponsorship. Instead, it is now - for example in the sense of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child7- The child's right to religion and religious accompaniment, which cannot be restricted to certain institutions, is paramount. Municipal institutions also have a religious-educational mandate, without the differences in sponsorship losing their significance as a result. In the implementation of the religious education mandate, the institutions should also have the opportunity to go their own way that suits their profile. It also goes without saying that no child may be exposed to attempts at religious influence or even attempts at indoctrination against his or her will or against the will of the parents.

The tasks of an interreligious education are not always described with the necessary clarity in the orientation and education plans. In this respect, some of the plans still lag far behind the challenges of the present and the future. A religious-educational-scientific support for the introduction of the plans was not set up. However, the findings of the current representative survey of kindergarten teachers in Germany point to far-reaching problems in this regard: On the one hand, the requirements of the orientation and educational plans in the field of religious and interreligious education are apparently not generally known to the institutions. Above all, this proves appropriate

Failure to introduce the new plans. On the other hand, many educators do not consider the corresponding tasks to be feasible. This shows that there is a lack of effective support for the institutions, especially in religious and - even more so - in interreligious terms. Against this background, the following recommendations emerge, especially for the institutions and for the state governments and their ministries responsible for this:

  • If the orientation and educational plans for the elementary sector are not yet binding, they should be made binding as soon as possible.
  • Where the orientation and education plans do not yet contain any provisions on religious accompaniment for children or restrict them to denominational institutions, they should be revised and supplemented in accordance with children's rights.
  • In addition to the religious accompaniment, to which every individual child with their religion has their own right, the tasks of interreligious education must also be described in more detail.
  • The orientation and educational plans must be made better known with a view to the religious educational requirements they contain and their justification must be made more understandable.
  • The institutions also need sustained support in the implementation of religious and interreligious tasks.
  • Religious pedagogical and academic support for the implementation of the orientation and educational plans is essential.

Tasks for science

Hardly any other dimension in children's lives is currently being so systematically neglected in scientific childhood research as religion. Studies on growing up in Germany only deal with this in exceptional cases and as a rule rather marginally. So far, social and educational research on children and childhood has hardly provided any information on the religious situation of children or families. This also applies to the so-called new childhood research, which wants to free itself from preconceived perspectives, but in religious terms remains largely attached to a traditional way of thinking about secularization, which has long since been overcome in other disciplines. Similar deficits can also be found in the reports commissioned by ministries or governments. The first and so far only report on children and adolescents by the federal government, in which religion in childhood is increasingly dealt with, was more than 13 years ago.8 Even the latest attempt submitted by the German Youth Institute to summarize the available studies on childhood in Germany had to forego a chapter on religion in childhood - in view of the far-reaching lack of relevant data.9

What is generally true of religion in childhood is even more true of growing up in a multi-religious society. The German education reports, as they have fortunately been drawn up since 2006, do report on the migration background of children. Their religious affiliation or religious background, however, is also ignored here.10 Scientific representations of day care centers, be it empirical or conceptual, are becoming increasingly sensitive to cultural differences. Of religion, religions and related issues is - with the exception above all of the publications of the denominational supporting associations11 - hardly even talked about it.

Against this background, the recommendation here can only be that scientific studies on childhood, childcare and childcare in Germany as well as on education in childhood must increasingly and consistently get involved in the neglected topic of religion and multireligiousness. The federal government as well as the state governments, which, for example, have not provided scientific support for the implementation of religious-pedagogical tasks in the new orientation and education plans, could and should assume a special responsibility and lead role here. In any case, calls for tenders for corresponding research projects and priorities are long overdue in this respect as well.


1“Day care facilities for children” is the umbrella term for all forms of institutional child day care such as kindergarten, crèche, day care center, etc. When we use the abbreviated term “day care centers” in the following - as in the title of the volume - we also mean such facilities.

2 In the following, we speak of kindergarten teachers and thus include all of the skilled workers working in the daycare center.

3 The results of the individual investigations have been published in three volumes; see A. Edelbrock / F. Schweitzer / A. Biesinger (ed.), How many gods are in heaven? Religious difference perception in childhood, Münster and others. 2010; A. Biesinger / A. Edelbrock / F. Schweitzer (ed.), It depends on the parents! Interreligious and intercultural education in the day care center, Münster and others. 2011; F. Schweitzer / A. Edelbrock / A. Biesinger (ed.), Interreligious and Intercultural Education in the Kita. A representative survey of educators in Germany - interdisciplinary, interreligious and international perspectives, Münster and others. 2011.

4 See United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, Article 27.1; Unfortunately, the German version obscures the fact that English and French speak of “spiritual” development. See also the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief from 1981: "Every child shall enjoy the right to have access to education in the matter of religion or belief ...". See overall F. Schweitzer, The Right of the Child on Religion. Encouragement for parents and educators, Gütersloh 22005.

5 See H. de Wall, Legal Aspects of Intercultural and Interreligious Education in Day Care Centers. In: F. Schweitzer / A. Biesinger / A. Edelbrock (ed.), My God - Your God. Intercultural and interreligious education in day-care centers, Weinheim / Basel 22009, 81–94.

6 See F. Schweitzer / A. Biesinger together with R. Boschki, C. Schlenker, A. Edelbrock, O. Kliss and M. Scheidler, Strengthening similarities - doing justice to differences. Experiences and perspectives on denominational-cooperative religious education, Freiburg i. B./Gütersloh 2002.

7 See above, note 4.

8 See report on the living situation of children and the services provided by child welfare in Germany - Tenth report on children and young people, German Bundestag 13th electoral period, printed matter 13/11368 of August 25, 1998.

9 See S. Wittmann / T. Rauschenbach / H. R. Leu (ed.), Children in Germany. A balance sheet of empirical studies, Weinheim / Munich 2011.

10 See Consortium Education Reporting, Education in Germany. An indicator-based report with an analysis of education and migration, Bielefeld 2006, 143.

11 References are given in this volume, see p. 172 f.


  • Dr. Anke Edelbrock is Academic Counselor for Protestant Theology / Religious Education at the University of Education Schwäbisch-Gmünd and a research assistant in the “Intercultural and Interreligious Education in Day Care Centers” project at the University of Tübingen.
  • Dr. Albert Biesinger is Professor of Religious Education, Kerygmatics and Church Adult Education at the Catholic Theological Faculty of the University of Tübingen.
  • Dr. Friedrich Schweitzer is Professor of Practical Theology / Religious Education at the Protestant Theological Faculty of the University of Tübingen.


The recommendations are taken from: Anke Edelbrock, Albert Biesinger, Friedrich Schweitzer (Eds.): Religious diversity in the day care center,
Cornelsen, 2012.

The recommendations are adopted with the kind permission of the authors and the Ravensburger Verlag Foundation.

Created on December 16, 2011, last changed on December 16, 2011