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An Ethical Dilemma: Religious Fundamentalism and Peace Education Juliet Bennett Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, Australia

An Ethical Dilemma: Religious Fundamentalism and Peace Education Juliet Bennett Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, Australia

An Ethical Dilemma: Religious and Juliet Bennett Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney,

ABSTRACT. Although a modus operandi throughout , the passing down of beliefs and values from parent to child is a practice that must now be challenged. Drawing a connection between fundamentalist religious beliefs and inter-gener- ational violence, this paper examines an ethical dilemma that lies at its crux: on the one hand, the peaceful intentions of fundamentalist believers, and on the other a number of violent consequences for , society, and the . Applying interdisciplinary religious and peace theory scholarship to the case of in Australia, a number of intertwining issues sur- rounding and education are explored. Should religion be taught to chil- dren? What is the difference between and education? Is some enculturation desirable? Who decides? Do children have a right to choose their own religion? Do parents have a right to teach them theirs? Is indoctrination avoidable? Is neutrality of the teacher attainable? Does a liberal society have a right not to tolerate the intolerant? How might these complex paradoxes be addressed from a philosophical and peace education perspective?

KEYWORDS. indoctrination paradox, fundamentalism, , post- , peace education.


lobalisation has placed en face, forcing religious believers Gto directly confront the beliefs of other civilisations, each of which may claim to the one and only ‘’. While one result of this realisation has been the development of tolerant and pluralistic attitudes toward the views of others, another result has been a rise of radical movements in the world’s major : Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and even Confucian. As a consequence, rather than moving toward a

ETHICAL PERSPECTIVES 18, no. 2(2011): 197-228. © 2011 by Centre for , K.U.Leuven. All reserved. doi: 10.2143/EP.18.2.2116810

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peaceful unity, global society is undergoing major division and new con- flicts are arising. Fundamentalists claim to revert back to what they inter- pret to be the ‘fundamentals’ of their religion. Fundamentalist religions are exclusivist, that is, they believe their religion “is the only true reli- gion” and that “their religion should be taught as truth” (Robinson 2000).1 As this paper focuses on Christian fundamentalism, for the sake of simplicity I will use the term fundamentalist to refer to all groups that share the ‘fundamental’ Christian beliefs in sola scriptura, that the Bible is the inerrant and authoritative ‘Word of ’; and sola fide, that by ‘ in ’ alone is the path to (Mackay 2005, 73).2 This includes many of the Fundamentalist, Evangelical and Pente- costal movements, as well as a number of conservative strands of other Christian denominations.3 This paper focuses on two distinct but inseparable phenomena: the rise of religious fundamentalism, and the accepted practice of parents passing their beliefs onto their children. Utilizing the example of the fundamentalist strand of , I argue that together these two phe- nomena create and perpetuate a number of forms of violence across generations. Attempting to analyse the phenomenon in the least obtrusive way, I approach the topic as an ethical dilemma, beginning with a survey of the violent consequences of fundamentalist religions and followed by an exploration of the seemingly loving intentions that cause them. Fun- damentalist parents and leaders desire that their children are brought up in the Christian faith, and that they remain in it for the rest of their . This is not seen as unethical or immoral: from a parent’s perspective they are bringing their child up in ‘Truth’, ‘guiding’ the child down the ‘right’ path, and ‘saving their eternal ’. The last part of this paper looks toward solutions, exploring how indoctrination may be avoided with a shift from education into religion to education about religion. While acknowledging the difficulties surrounding this shift, a of peace education is proposed as a transformative solution that challenges the underpinning structures of -day education systems. Growing from

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the works of Dewey, Galtung, Lederach, Montessori, and many others, peace education grounds students in an ability to think critically, engage with (and if necessary, challenge) dominant systems, and transform conflict through non-violent means. This study inevitably has its roots in my cultural and social location as a former Christian in an ongoing relationship with a Christian funda- mentalist community. While this allowed access to valuable and perspectives, I recognise these benefits come at a risk of personal . Striving toward the most objective perspective possible, I have attempted to explicate my influences throughout the . In brief, I hold the ‘Truth’ as an unattainable but worthwhile objective. At the of writing this paper I interpret ‘God’ as a panentheistic personification of the creative energy behind the expansion and complexity of our uni- verse. My vision looks beyond ‘the absence of war’ (negative peace) toward positive peace, which includes respect for rights and social (Galtung 1990). Due to the scope of this topic, the paper does not attempt to be exhaustive but explorative, concentrating on what I per- ceive to be the most essential and key issues. It combines exten- sive scholarly with a review of and NGO initiatives, Australian case studies, and in hope of presenting a per- spective that may initiate further discussion.


Fundamentalists have gunned down worshippers in a mosque, have killed doctors and nurses who work in clinics, have shot their presidents, and have even toppled a powerful government (Armstrong 2000, ix).

In the current state of world affairs it is easy to observe a number of direct and indirect forms of violence that result from fundamentalist

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religion. By observing several forms of this violence, at global, societal and levels, the first part of this paper denotes the need for religious fundamentalist beliefs and their pedagogical practices to be examined through a more critical interdisciplinary lens.

Violent Consequences on Global Relations

Worldview conflicts are the result of conflicts between of how the world, locally or globally, should be defined or should function. When conflicts are passed on between generations, they can become symbiotic, habituated into self-perpetuating conflictual interac- tions between participants (Tillett and French 2006, 11-13). In his widely cited work, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Huntington (1996) posits that world conflict will not be ideological or economic but will be cultural – a clash between ‘civilisations’ with radically different worldviews, and where allegiance to religious takes precedence over allegiance to nation-state. In The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, Philip Jenkins also anticipates a clash of . Jenkins envisions a worldview conflict in the form of a “ of Christian crusades and Muslim jihads”, “international religious-oriented alliances” (Jenkins 2007, 13), connected to the rapidly rising numbers in Africa, Asia and Latin America that have an “even more fundamentalist, evangelical, apocalyptic and charismatic than Christianity in the West” (2007, 137). Recent acts of violence, from the 9/11 attacks to bombers, to the actions of extremist groups such as the Army of God and Christian Identity, and the impact of voting Christians supporting the New and the war in the Middle East, might be interpreted as the beginnings of this clash (Blaker 2003b, 10-11). It is important to clarify the distinction between a religious identity and the religion itself. It is only the collective identity of a religion’s adherents that reifies the religion and allows it to be ‘used’ or ‘abused’

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(Trompf 2007, 179). As Trompf puts it, “do colligations actually ‘do’ anything, and can they indeed be ‘causes’?” (2007, 181). It is only through human agency that crusades, jihads and other forms of violence may occur. When a religious identity is inseparable from a personal one, the interpretation a religious authority preaches is often adopted without question and defended as if it is a part of one’s self. Conflicting can transform into zero-sum , and depending on the closeness of the to mainstream interpretation this may lead to New Religious Move- ments and new denominations, and . The Jonestown Massacre and Pentecostal child witch-hunts in Nigeria are extreme examples of leaders manipulating their followers.4

Violent Consequences for Society

Many fundamentalists have moved away from the core values of their religion, bringing their children up to reject some of the most positive values of modern society. Armstrong notes that “all have neglected the more tolerant, inclusive, and compassionate teachings and have cultivated of rage, resentment, and revenge” (2000, 366). Fundamentalists prioritise submission to authority over questioning and , fostering “, , and in-group out-group ste- reotyping” (Blaker 2003c, 130). Even many of the most peaceful and -abiding Fundamentalist Christians are ‘perplexing’, often rejecting “, pluralism, , peacekeeping, free speech, [and] the separation of the church and state” as well as rejecting a great deal of scientific and discovery (Armstrong 2000, ix). A fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible leads to an externalisation of moral and ethical bases emphasising obedience to God’s orders rather than appreciating the intrinsic value of the moral itself. Kohlberg identified the development of moral maturity as having six stages within three levels: the pre-conventional level where a simplistic or pleasure-seek- ing orientation guides one’s behaviour; the conventional level where a good

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girl/boy and authority orientation, that is, a desire to please others, obey the law, guides one’s behaviour; and finally the post-conventional level, where a social-contract orientation and the of individual guides one to transcend self-interest and law, and base one’s morality on rational thought, justice, dignity, and equality (Blaker 2003c, 146-7). The behaviour of fundamentalists most commonly resides at the pre-conventional level, with the deep motivation that comes from a desire to avoid the punishment of and be rewarded with the glories of heaven. In order to move toward a state of peace with justice, it would appear that humanity must move beyond self-interest and into post-conventional levels of morality.

Violent Consequences for the Child

Patterning church hierarchies, education within fundamentalist communi- ties often discourages questioning, plays on one’s fear of or hell, and encourages and obedience to authorities. Dwyer states that in fundamentalist environments children are often:

[…] not permitted to question what they are taught on any subject or to express any opinion contrary to the orthodox views that teachers, school administrators, and pastors aggressively impress upon them (2001, 24).

An authoritative relationship between fundamentalist teachers and students generally makes “no attempt to move toward creative, critical, or integrative thinking” (Rose 1993, 463).5 The acceptance of a Holy Book’s author- ity on , , history and morals, suppresses a child’s ability to criti- cally evaluate or draw his or her own conclusions. The compounding effect of such an approach is a community of non-thinking, conforming citizens. This is a vulnerable position for any democratic society (Kirkhart 2003, 74). Some theologies of fundamentalist religions can cause harm to deeper levels of the child’s psyche. The of Original , or the funda- mentalist that all inherit the sin of Adam and are born

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sinful, inculcates “a self-image of insignificance, powerlessness, and sin- fulness as humans,” teaching children that they are only worthy “as submis- sive, completely dependent children of God” (Dwyer 2001, 38). Damage can extend to spiritual abuse, the act of making a person believe they will be punished in this and/or ‘tormented in hell-fire forever’ if they fail to live the way God requires, through to more extreme and overt forms referred by psychologists as spiritual terrorism (Purcell 1998, 227). Some religious teachings repress an individual’s sexuality, with long-term effects on emotional and sexual health of the individual. Women raised in fun- damentalist homes often “never find enjoyment in the act of sex,” treat- ing it as an “ they must fulfil to procreate and satisfy their husband’s sexual desires” (Blaker 2003a, 101). Millions of women remain in physically abusive as they have been taught to be ‘doormats for Jesus’ and have been told by their church that they do not have ‘bib- lical grounds’ for divorce (Purcell 1998, 230). It is important to note that the consequences of religious conversions are not all bad. The positive consequences of even fundamentalist reli- gions can include a feeling of “more purpose in life” and alleviation of problems with “drugs, gambling, alcohol and sex” (Argyle 2000, 179-180). Such draw cards indicate gaps that secular society is failing to fulfil. Is this why people convert to fundamentalist religions? Once an adult converts, are the future generations that stem from this adult inducted into the religion from birth? Part two has identified a number of forms of violence that result from fundamentalism. Part three deconstructs Christian fun- damentalism and the practices of education (or indoctrination), to develop a deeper understanding of the factors contributing to this violence.


While others grapple with meaning of their lives fundamentalists KNOW the meaning of theirs, much to do with the and assured place, and the Bible is a roadmap (Mackay 2005, 79).

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There are myriad that might cause a person to convert to a fundamentalist religion, and myriad reasons that fundamentalist beliefs (and the violence outlined above) are passed down through generations. This part shall outline the reasons for a rise in Christian fundamental- ism, the key motivating factors of adult and childhood conversion, the ethical parameters of education and indoctrination, and, with reference to the case study of Christian schooling in Australia, attempt to develop a philosophical and practical understanding of both sides of the ethical dilemma.

In Opposition to and

Cross-cultural conflict often operates from a position of preservation and defensiveness, where each group feels a deep threat to its identity and wellbeing (Lederach 1995, 109-118). This insecurity often paradoxically protects itself by lashing out at the perceived threat that is also often equally insecure, creating a mutually reinforcing and destructive cycle. In , (2000) describes a perceived “ter- ror of ” driving fundamentalist Christian, and Judaic reli- gions, who fear that secularists are trying to wipe them out. Feeling as though their identity is under attack, fundamentalists have undertaken a campaign to “resacralize” society, a cause that has become “aggressive and distorted”, initiating a “dialectical relationship with an aggressive secularism which showed scant respect for religion and its adherents” (Armstrong 2000, 370-371). Yet it is not only religion that combines with to create such forms of violence. Trompf (2007) suggests that secularism and scientism are themselves “broad abstractions of religion itself”, with the capacity to turn into “living bête noires, ready to distort or endanger an otherwise ordered world” (2007, 179). Secularists and fun- damentalists appear to be trapped in an “escalating spiral of hostility and recrimination” causing division within nations (Armstrong 2000, 370- 371).

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Adult Conversion

Motivations for in adults tend to fall into two major seg- ments: an ‘affluent’ form and a ‘peasantry’ form. The affluent form is driven mainly by fear: a fear of uncertainty, a fear of death, and a fear of eternal in hell if one makes the wrong decision. A multitude of catalysts can draw people into fundamentalist religions, from near-death experiences, ill- ness and healing, and divorce, to the successful of evangelists. In The Gathering Storm, Edwin F. Kagin explains that “people feel out of con- trol and vulnerable when they don’t have simple answers to life’s questions” (2003, 45). Fundamentalism comforts fears with its sense of certainty, its promise of unconditional and its grand offer: everlasting life in heaven. Fundamentalism provides a grand narrative that, in the second-half of the twentieth century, postmodernity forthrightly rejected (Christian 2009). Grand narratives, whether in the form of creation or scientism, provide a clear perspective of where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. Avoiding historical grand narratives blurs our perspective, our identity, and our purpose (Toulmin 1990). Fundamentalist communities fill a gap of emptiness that persists even after the individual pursuit of has been fulfilled. Religion adds meaning and value to lives, and provides a social out- let and sense of belonging within a supportive community (Kagin 2003, 45). The peasantry form of fundamentalism on the other hand, is moti- vated by a desire to make the suffering and inequalities of life easier to bear. In this case, fundamentalism provides comfort for “the poor, the handicapped, the uneducated, and discriminated,” teaching that if they accept the fundamentalist as truth, they will transform from victims and rejects into “the chosen, the elite of God” (Kagin 2003, 43).

Childhood Conversion

The frequently cited work of Edwin D. Starbuck has demonstrated that “conversion does not occur with the same frequency at all periods in

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life,” but “belongs almost exclusively to the years between 10 and 25” (Starbuck 1911).6 Maria Montessori, a highly influential peace educator in the early 20th Century, believed the process started even earlier. Montes- sori famously described the ‘absorbent ’ of children between the ages of 0 and 6, a time when one absorbs the distinctive patterns of one’s social environment (Montessori 1989). ARIS surveys emphasise the importance of this formational period, identifying that 84% of American adults remain in the same faith for their entire lifetime (Robinson 2007).7 GSS surveys reported similar findings, as well as observing that the degree of socialisation was a highly influential factor on the religious mobility of the child (Smith 1988, 90).8 The more exposure to the religion, through church, school and social groups, the greater the chance a person will remain in the religion of their parents. Fundamentalist Christians understand that as a child our “image of God is formed before we know we are forming it” (Stonehouse 2006, 99). Stonehouse argues that although “many children seem to easily love Jesus and readily accept the premises of faith given to them,” this faith is “not a transplant of their parent’s or their Sunday school teacher’s faith,” but is “the of beliefs and values the child puts together from his or her interpretation of what has been taught, their life experiences, and their encounters with God” (2006, 99). The question this discourse must address is how one may distinguish between a transplant of faith and a child’s capacity to interpret what they have been taught. Has the child’s conversion been derived from education or indoctrination?9

Education or Indoctrination?

The difference between education and indoctrination is undeniably com- plex, with bodies of scholarship dedicated to examining it in a broader cultural and social context.10 In effort to keep focussed on Indoctrination and Education (1972), Ivan A. Snook has identified and evaluated four main criteria for distinguishing indoctrination from moral education.

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These are: the rationality of the method used to teach, the content and consequences of what is taught, and the intention of the teacher (1972, 16-44). After analysing each criterion in detail, Snook concluded that method, content and consequences are susceptible to other influences and although useful to analyse, they cannot alone identify indoctrination or education. It is only the criterion of intention that may conclude immoral indoctrination. Snook defines indoctrination as:

[…] the teaching of any subject with the intention that it be believed regardless of the (75).

On the other hand, Wright defines education as a process where students:

[…] are encouraged to question the established social and personal goals of society by engaging with substantial meta-critical questions (2004, 173).

This raises fairly serious philosophical questions about intention versus action. Evaluating the intentions of fundamentalist parents and churches in the faith education of their children requires detailed primary research beyond the scope of this paper. Schools, on the other hand, publicise their intentions on their websites and throughout their pamphlets, reports and other forms of documentation. In order to evaluate the legitimacy of faith education in fundamentalist communities, Australian case studies will be used to analyse and evaluate the intentions of fundamentalist Christian schools.

The Case of Independent “Non-Denominational” Christian Schools in Australia

Religious schools in Australia fall into two major categories: those known as ‘Church Schools’ or ‘denominational’ schools, i.e. long-established pri- vate schools with relatively high school fees; and independent ‘non- denominational’ Christian schools that have only been established for a short time, and have much lower fees. The latter follow a similar trend

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to the ‘New Movement’ in the United States and are fundamentalist, charismatic, and/or neo-evangelical in nature (Rose 1993, 433). Case studies broadcast in ABC television’s Compass pro- gramme “A Christian Education”11 clearly demonstrate the difference between the intentions of the two schools: denominational schools focus on education, while non-denominational schools have an explicit inten- tion to indoctrinate students. For example, the mission statement of Community Christian Academy (CCA) is: “to make disciples of each stu- dent who leaves from this place.”12 Most non-denominational schools in Australia are members of one of three associations: Christian Schools Australia (CSA), Australian Asso- ciation of Christian Schools (AACS), or Christian Parent Controlled (CPC) Schools Ltd.13 of the mission statements and goals published on over 50 websites of non-denominational independent Christian schools and the denominational private schools confirms the findings of the ABC case studies and shows that the intention to indoctrinate is common across most if not all fundamentalist Christian schools in Australia. To provide a representative and personal example, Covenant Christian School (CCS) is an independent non-denominational school and a member of both CPC and AACS. It is also the school I attended for all 13 years of my school- ing. On their website they state that their curriculum is tailored to present all subjects “through the lens of the Gospel” in ways that “challenge students to think Christianly about what they are learning,” and reflecting on “how God wants us to treat our fellow human , even our enemies, reflecting and responding to our call to be radical disciples” (CCS 2008).14 Do parents who send their children to these schools share such an intention? Charles Justins conducted research on Christian Parent Con- trolled (CPC) Schools in Australia for his PhD in 2002. Justins’ surveys asked parents for the reasons behind their decision to send their child to a CPC school. The survey found that 87% of parents sent their child to fundamentalist schools because “the school seeks to put Jesus at the

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centre of ” (2002, 190) and 96% of parents said it was because the teachers are Christian. The survey also found that 94% of parents believe that the Bible is “essential for students to understand the world / human society” (2002, 227). This infers that most of the parents do share the intentions of these schools. Surveys of graduates found that 80% agreed that the Bible is essential to their understanding of the world, inferring that the content and methods used in the homes and schools have been highly successful in their intentions (2002, 227).15

Ethical Considerations

With these preliminary conclusions in mind, there is still one very important factor that must be addressed: the indoctrination paradox. Is indoctrination immoral if “a person [is] working within a system in which certain ideas are generally accepted as beyond question, although in a wider connection they are subject to dispute?” (Snook 1972, 42).16 Snook holds that:

[…] if the teacher has himself [sic] been indoctrinated, his intention will be the same as that of any good educator… to hand on the truth in a reasonable manner (ibid.).

However, in the case that the teacher is “inculcating beliefs which [he] are certain but which are substantially disputed”, foreseeing that the topics taught are likely to be believed regardless of evidence, then an immoral indoctrination is occurring (ibid.). The question that logically follows: are fundamentalists aware their beliefs are substantially disputed? Considering the variety of religions in the world one assumes that yes they are. However, in the case of Christianity, the largest religion in the world with over 2 billion adherents, about one-third of the world’s population (Robinson 2009), it is common for fundamentalist Christians to assume their beliefs are not so substantially disputed and so may be legitimately taught to children as truth. A study of adolescent Christian

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theology found that “parents are frequently unable to articulate their own religious beliefs and less able to help their children apply religious beliefs to their lives” (Charry 2006, 438). Many fundamentalists Christians do not realise their beliefs are ‘fundamentalist’ as they see themselves as being a part of a standard Christianity that has existed for two-thousand years, unaware that they are part of a recent movement with a new interpreta- tion.17 The same might be said for Islam reporting 1.2 billion, reporting 837 million and 376 million (Robinson 2009 and 2010). Connected to the moral factor is the ability to recognise that some enculturation18 is essential for a child’s development, and is desirable for human progression. Each new generation is a “merciful heir” to a great store of “cultural capital” of “intellectual, moral, technological, physical, political, social, aesthetic and spiritual (or religious) achievements” that has been compounded throughout the history of human civilisation (Moore 1997, 76). This store of provides a stepping-stone for the future. When it comes to moral enculturation, the impending question is who decides what is moral and what is not? The Universal Declaration of , accepted by all religions and cultures around the world, may be a good place to start. Ultimately, children should be taught not what to think, but how to think. This is certainly a political as well as a philosophical point in which each individual person should have the right to decide what they shall think and not have their thoughts imposed by force majeure. In Religion, Education and Post-modernity, Wright suggests that education should transmit the “best cultural package available” and also “insist that pupils also learn to engage critically with alternative options” (2004, 174). Then, “as pupils gradually gain self-mastery and learn to discipline themselves, so the authority of the tutor may be progressively relaxed” (2004, 135). This would progress into an engagement of students with the in which they have been inducted. Do fundamentalist parents have a right to indoctrinate their children? Do children have a right to choose a faith for themselves? Should govern- ments intervene?

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The Rights of a Child, of Parents and of Society

Living in a ‘liberal’ society dictates a high level of tolerance to another’s views and actions, including freedom for parents to bring their children up in their religion and choose a school that supports their values. But what if this freedom has violent consequences for individuals, society and the world stage? Hulmes approaches this conundrum in reference to ’s ‘paradox of tolerance’, which proposes that unlimited tolerance cannot exist without bringing about the end of tolerance itself:

[…] it may easily turn out that they [the intolerant] are not willing to meet us on the level of rational […] we should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant (1979, 21).

The United Nations on the Rights of the Child (CRC), ratified in 1989 by every country in the world besides Somalia and the United States, outlines the fundamental freedoms and inherent rights that human beings are born with, and the measures necessary to ensure protection and real- isation of those rights (CRIN 2009). Article 14 declares respect for the child’s “freedom of thought, and religion” (United Nations 1989, art. 14.1) and respect for the parent or the legal guardian’s right and to “provide direction to the child […] in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child” (United Nations 1989, art. 14.2). Article 14.3, however, holds that parental rights are subject to a condition:

Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others (italics mine).

The rights of the child and society limit the rights of fundamentalist par- ents, not the other way around. Article 29.1a states that a child’s education

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must be directed at developing “the child’s personality, talents and men- tal and physical abilities to their fullest potential.” Article 29.1d states that the need for education to prepare children for “responsible life in a free society, in the of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin.” Does faith education within fundamentalist religions adhere to or breach these rights? Referring to the case of fundamentalist Christian schools in Australia, teaching children that they have “enemies” in need of “radical conversion” is clearly a message of intolerance and elitism and is a breach of Article 29. Fundamentalist schools’ intentions are quite clearly breaching a child’s right to . Finally, the funda- mentalist worldview these children are brought into leads to the many forms of violence outlined in part two of this article and is clearly not education in the spirit of peace and tolerance. While this case study cannot be assumed representative of other fundamentalist religions, nor of fun- damentalist Christian schools in other countries, this case has provided a practical and useful example of indoctrination in practice. Investigating the intentions of other and evaluating its adherence or breach of the CRC, appears to be a valuable area for further research. The question we must now move towards is: How can this challenging conundrum be addressed? Can students learn about religion without being indoctrinated into it? What will assist humanity to move toward higher levels of philosophical and moral maturity (namely, to not just teach what to think, but how to think)? These questions form the basis of part four.


Indoctrination would be avoided if the teacher, regardless of his own commitment, taught with the intention that the pupils form their own conclusions on the basis of evidence (Snook 1972, 86).

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Education plays an important role in establishing cultures of violence and cultures of peace.19 As increasingly “different cultures and identities inter- act with each other through travel, commerce, media or migration”, it is of fundamental importance for young people to “acquire a better under- standing of the role that religions in today’s pluralistic world” (OSCE 2006).20 Solutions do not come from the “add good education and stir” approach, but require transformative solutions that “change the underpin- ning and structures of behaviour” (UNICEF 2000, 33). This is a challenging proposition as it is “fundamentally a political threat in the sense that it challenges structures of authority dominance and control” (ibid).

Education without Indoctrination

Emphasising the importance of the basic of the teacher leads to an important question posed by Edward Hulmes: “how far is it possible for a believer to pretend to espouse a philosophical neutrality which is alien to his deepest convictions and experience?” (1979, 48). Answering his own , Hulmes suggests, “the only sensible way forward is to accept this limitation as inescapable, and not to insist on a neutrality which is unattainable” (ibid). The solution to this dilemma is not to attempt to immunise the education process from the play of power. Rather than religious educators teaching one under a “veil of neutrality”, by making their , values and commitments as visible as possible, “pupils can make judgments based on knowledge rather than ignorance” (Wright 2004, 186). Even if the student remains within power structures, authorities and indecision, the result will shift from power over know- ledge, to one of knowledge over power. This process is grounded in an “intellectual curiosity driven by a sense of awe, wonder and mystery in the face of the richness and complexity of the natural world” (Wright 2004, 172). In 2007, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Office for Democratic and Human Rights

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(ODIHR) developed the Toledo Guiding Principles on Teaching about Religions and Beliefs in Public Schools.21 The Toledo guidelines are based on the prin- ciple that “teaching about religions and beliefs can reduce harmful misun- derstandings and ” and “has the valuable potential of reducing conflicts that are based on lack of understanding for others’ beliefs and of encouraging respect for their rights” (ODIHR 2007, 12, 76).22 It is possible that these guidelines may also be used to align education at fun- damentalist schools with the requirements of the CRC.

Peace Education

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) model of Peace Education appears to be a solution with many local and global benefits, indirectly addressing the dilemma incurred by fundamentalists. Growing out of works of Johan Galtung, Elise and Ken- neth Boulding, John Dewey, Maria Montessori, John Paul Lederach, Paulo Freire and many others, peace education23 is a holistic, dynamic, transformative, and multi-disciplinary that calls for long-term responses to conflict from intra-personal to international levels and the creation of more just and sustainable . Peace education is more than philosophy; it integrates philosophy into a process of people “con- sciously striving to educate their successors not for the existing state of affairs but so as to make possible a future better humanity” (Dewey 2007, 95). The aim of peace education is to develop citizens with the ability to cope with difficult and uncertain situations, and the ability to resolve conflicts through non-violent means. Peace education can be seen as a “mirror of the political-social-economic agenda for a given society” (Bar- Tal 2002, 28), beginning with developing “ in the of students” including “the qualities of tolerance, , sharing and caring.” From here students come to “recognize and accept the values which exist in the diversity of individuals, genders, peoples and cultures” and he or she grows an ability “to communicate, share and co-operate

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with others” to solve problems and work toward a just, peaceful and democratic community (UNESCO 1995, 9).24 Peace education is educa- tion for people of all ages and situations, from schools to community groups, through to universities (Harris and Morrison 2003, 9). Peace education covers a range of themes including environmental care and ecological sustainability, intercultural understanding, social jus- tice, indigenous peoples, peace, tolerance, conflict transformation, per- sonal health, cooperative skills, comparative views on human values, human and child rights, disarmament, global issues and global citizenship. A component of peace education is ‘global education’, incorporating the above themes into a that comprises four dimensions: a temporal dimension linking the past, present and future; a spatial dimen- sion creating an awareness of the interdependent nature of the world; an issues dimension that studies connections between contemporary issues; and an inner dimension that identifies the connection between resolving world issues and the developing of an inner self and spiritual awareness (Fountain 1999, 10-11). Peace education is a transformative response to the many actual and potential cultural clashes, addressing their most com- mon cause: “-cultural ignorance” (Harris and Morrison 2003, 67).25 Peace education “attempts to eliminate deep cultural and inter- group hate by challenging stereotypes, breaking down enemy images and changing perceptions of and ways of relating” (ibid).26


In order to break the inter-generational cycles of religious and cultural conflicts, it is necessary to become conscious of it – to develop an aware- ness of self-in-context. Lederach (1995, 109-118) refers to this process as conscientization. The philosophy of peace education extends beyond formal educational systems. In the movement toward a more peaceful planet, it is important that all people become more conscious of themselves, their soci- ety, and their worldviews, in their historical and global context. This idea

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applies to religious , as well as to philosophical, cultural and aca- demic ones. It is a task required of both fundamentalists and the wider society, including the media.27 Trompf emphasises a need to “discern between the true and false representatives of great traditions, and sift ideals from disfigurations” (2007, 186). Fundamentalist leaders often let down their congregations in failing to provide them with an accurate perspective of their beliefs in context. The lines of power and authority within church institutions and the of the fundamentalist leaders would be an interesting area for further research. Have these leaders arrived in this position following a process of critical thinking and freedom of thought, or were they indoctrinated themselves? Would the intentions of their sermons be con- sidered one of indoctrination or education? Does bureaucracy interfere with moral education and critical thinking? It is possible that individuals and society would benefit from a shift in the church methods from preaching one interpretation of the Bible, to sharing a number of interpre- tations of it – effectively enabling people of the congregation to discuss theologies amongst themselves and take ownership of their own faith. Might this be a more philosophically sophisticated approach to sharing ? The General Agenda for Dialogue among Civilisations as set out by UNESCO recalls that the United Nations Millennium Declaration of Tol- erance is a fundamental value for international relations, and one which “should include the active promotion of a of peace and dialogue among civilizations”, based on:

[…] human beings respecting one another, in all their diversity of belief, culture and language, neither fearing nor repressing differences within and between societies but cherishing them as a precious asset of humanity (UNESCO 2001, 2).

Is a fundamentalist belief that other religions are ‘wrong’ compatible with these principles of tolerance and respect? Can the differences in opinions

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ever be ‘cherished’ from within a fundamentalist paradigm? Out of fear and misguided conviction, fundamentalists try to repress the differences and convert others to their beliefs. In order to break down this lack of respect and tolerance, Article 1 of the agenda suggests that dialogue between and within civilisations should be based on:

[…] a collective desire to learn, uncover and examine assumptions, unfold shared meaning and core values and integrate multiple perspec- tives (UNESCO 2001, 3).

Other articles of the agenda include “promotion of confidence-building at local, national, regional and international levels”, encouraging global par- ticipation that would be “open to all people from all civilizations,” noting the important role of “scholars, thinkers, intellectuals, writers, scientists, people of arts, culture and media and the youth,” as well as “individuals from civil society and representatives of non-governmental organizations” (UNESCO 2001, 4). The emphasis of this agenda is education and com- munication, which will in turn lead to empathy, respect, tolerance and under- standing. For communication to be effective people must want to communi- cate, they must want to understand each other, and this desire only comes once a person is confident in their understanding of themselves. It is there- fore necessary to raise the critical of society, to expand the worldview of all people so they may understand the interrelationship between themselves and all beings on the planet (Ardizzone 2002, 17).28 Secularists and atheists are not excluded from such a communication process. Dawkins, along with other prominent atheists labelled as the ‘new atheists’, may have a positive impact in raising awareness, however they have been criticised for creating their own scientific fundamentalism (Beattie 2007), and for “fanning the flames of bigotry on this planet” in a pursuit to convert the world from belief to unbelief (Compass 2009).29 Many perceive there to be a “void at the heart of a society based on scientific ” (Armstrong 2000, 370). Bringing children up in an atheist paradigm asserting

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that ‘there is no God’ may hinder a child’s in ways not dissimilar to religious fundamentalists hindering a child’s understanding of science.30 Finding ways that accommodate the spiritual in secular culture, opening up the non-religious education system to allow a connection with deeper levels of one’s self and the universe, may be another part of the peace process (Wright 2004). Instead of taking an aggressive approach to fundamentalism, non-fundamentalists may try to empathise with, as Armstrong puts it, the “fears, anxieties, and needs which so many of their fundamentalist neigh- bours experience but which no society can safely ignore” (2000, 371). Many scientists do not see a conflict between science and faith. Some scientists, such as Francis S. Collins, the director of the human-genome project, have converted from to Christianity as a result of their scientific research. Some scientists even argue that quantum “chal- lenges any attempt to maintain a strict distinction between scientific and philosophical or theological knowledge” (Beattie 2007). The theory of evo- lution is still a theory that contains many gaps (see, for example, Cremo and Thompson 1993), and admitting these gaps will de-escalate the threat sci- entism presents. Similarly the inclusive interpretations of religions can assist in the de-escalation of the religious side.31 Just as mythos and played important roles in pre-modern thinking, religion and science both have important roles to play in our understanding of the world today. Religion explaining the why, the God created the world, and science explaining the how, that God did it through an ongoing creative process of . These approaches provide a paradigm that transcends the perceived zero- sum of religion or science, moving into a positive-sum game of religion and science; opening up windows of opportunity for communication and conflict transformation (Galtung 2004).32 Awareness begins with education.

A Final Critical Reflection

Shining a mirror at the mirror, one final reflection is due. Is it possible that peace education is another form of indoctrination? Is peace education

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an enculturation into and a continuance of Western hege- mony? I believe the opposite to be true. This notion presupposes a main- stream acceptance of peace pedagogy, not the resistance it actually faces (Ardizzone 2002, 22). On the contrary, peace education challenges West- ern hegemony, questioning dominant structures and institutionalised oppression. In moving power out of the teacher’s hands and into the hands of students, peace education takes proactive action in hope of pre- venting any form of unethical indoctrination. Its intention is for students to question, critically analyse, think independently, and make informed choices based not only on analysis of the present, but also with a vision of a preferred future. Peace education encourages students to engage with, and if necessary to challenge, religious, political, national, scientific, eco- nomic, and pedagogical, values, and structures. Peace education not only promotes positive international relations, but it transforms soci- ety into one of ‘critical, informed citizenry that is prepared to work for the ’ (Ardizzone 2002, 23).


All problems of humanity depend on man himself; if man is disregarded in his construction, the problems will never be solved (Montessori 1947).

Globalisation has placed contradicting religions side by side, leading to confusion over the of an Absolute Truth, and initiating a fear of extinction leading to a number of distorted versions of religions now caught up in identity and ideology. This has violent implications for individuals, for society, and in the form of a potential clash of civilisa- tions. In order to address such conflicts, the accepted practice of encul- turation must be challenged. This paper has attempted this colossal task on a small scale, using a niche group of fundamentalist Christian schools in Australia. I have approached the topic as a two-sided dilemma in the

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hope that it might open up the matter for further exploration and dis- cussion. I hope that this paper may provide some insight into the fun- damentalist paradigm, which is often out-of-reach to non-Christian scholars, and hence contribute to existing academic, political and peda- gogical efforts already working toward solutions. Investigating this ethical dilemma has pointed to a number of fac- tors not only applicable to childhood conversion in Christian fundamen- talism, but also relevant to a wider educational context. The UNESCO model of peace education appears to be a solution with many local and global benefits, including addressing the dilemma incurred by funda- mentalists. Recognising that some enculturation is a necessary basis for education, this must be combined with a cultivation of the student’s abil- ity to question traditions and to challenge the status quo should it be required. A fundamentalist paradigm transmits beliefs without engaging in critical thinking, with priority placed on conforming to a state of mind that combines belief in a single absolute truth with a complete placed in an authoritative book or person. These are their beliefs and conse- quently they bring their children up to believe the same thing. As a result we observe a perpetuating cycle of violence. At the heart of this challeng- ing dilemma are the loving intentions of parents who only want the best for their child. Most are not aware of the violent repercussions of their fundamentalist beliefs and unethical methods of education. Indoctrination can be avoided by shifting from ‘education into religion’ to ‘education about religion’. UNESCO’s model of Peace Education pro- vides a possible new approach to education that by its nature addresses all forms of indoctrination in schools and in the home. A philosophical peda- gogy for peace education that attempts to teach children ‘how to think’ instead of ‘what to think’ hopes to cultivate a sense of inner peace in each child and helps them come to their own understanding of themselves in the context of the universe. Peace education invites teachers and parents to become students again, engaging with the child in developing the skills to think critically, to adapt to changes, and to continue life-long learning.

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These skills are essential ingredients for self-determination, inner peace and a sense of confidence that every person needs in this rapidly changing global society. Although addressing indoctrination at schools is an important step, the ultimate power to convert the young lies in the hands of parents. For fun- damentalist parents to change their approach to their child’s education, they must recognise the need for change, and then they will need the strength, capability and resources to do so. Education in the history of one’s own beliefs is essential, as is an understanding of how one’s beliefs fit in relation to the beliefs of others. Fundamentalist congregations respect the authorities of their leaders. Dialogue between higher levels of leadership in different religions opens the way for each to learn from the other. Government, institutions, media and individuals can help with the education process. Increasing awareness of self-in-context will begin to build up the confidence of fundamentalists and allow them to deconstruct their faith and question parts that may require questioning. Without this understanding, fundamentalists remain in the early stages of faith devel- opment, and their religion remains an identity-driven ideology. With a broader education, fundamentalists will be more willing to enter inter- faith dialogues and dialogues between civilisations, replacing the sympa- thy with empathy and replacing an exclusive approach with an inclusive one. These efforts would be a significant step towards developing a more peaceful culture on the world-stage. At its core, this thesis identifies a need for both the religious and non-religious to critically explore the accepted of childhood con- version, to review education practices and work toward our common goal: peace. If we work together, if we try to understand each other, learn from each other, and appreciate our differences, might we avoid the impending clash of civilisations? Can we empathise with each other’s journeys? Can we move from Jesus or Buddha to Jesus and Buddha? From us or them to us and them? Can we all share the same pursuit for Truth? Time and word constraints have led this discourse to be suggestive rather

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than conclusive, but I hope it has provided some useful insights into the fundamentalist perspective and the importance of education in preventing the perpetuation of the violence it can cause. Each new generation is a blank slate – an opportunity to create a world of violence or a world of peace. As I see it, the choice is up to us.


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1. It is useful to distinguish this attitude from the inclusivist belief that one’s religion is the true religion but some truth may be found in other religions, and the pluralist belief “that all reli- gions are true, when evaluated against their local culture” (Robinson 2000).

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2. This paper does not use the term ‘fundamentalist’ pejoratively, but uses it to group together new religious movements and new denominations that share these ‘fundamental’ exegeses. 3. A brief note on terminology taken from Cambridge Dictionary and Dawson (1996, 2). New Religious Movements (NRM) are religious subgroups that have gained large numbers of adher- ents in the last hundred years, and often cross denominational lines. Some NRMs affirm the values of the world, some reject the world and others accommodate it. Fundamentalism is classi- fied as an NRM. Sects are religious groups that have separated from a larger with views that have diverged from the mainstream belief. Cults are religious groups generally not connected to a larger religion, again with what is perceived by others to be extreme views. is also used as a pejorative label for NRMs and sects. Denominations are religious groups with slightly different beliefs from other groups of the same religion for example , Anglicans and Methodists, and generally have begun as a of the major religion. 4. See, for example, Dawson (1996, 181) on The Jonestown Massacre. According to Gary Foxcroft, programme director of Stepping Stones Nigeria, children are “often incarcerated in churches for weeks on end and beaten, starved and tortured in order to extract a confession” (ABC, 22/06/2009; Karimi [May 18, 2009]). 5. Rose quotes educators speaking about the pedagogical styles at Bethany Baptist Academy and the Lakehaven Academy in the USA, who explicitly use the word “dictatorship” to describe their classroom. 6. Starbuck 1911, as cited in Sulaiman-Hill, available at www.aen.org.nz/journal/2/2/Sulai- man-Hill.html. 7. An American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) conducted in 2001 asked American subjects if they had changed their religious identification during their lifetime. 16% of adults answered they had changed their denomination or religion, and for the largest group, the change was abandoning all religion, with a margin of error of ±0.3 percentage points. 8. General Social Surveys (GSS) reported that 90.4% of children brought up Protestant in America remain Protestant and 73.7% of children brought up in fundamentalist denominations remain fundamentalist (Smith 1988, 90). 9. Indoctrination once referred to the entire education process since it became associated with coercive education methods of totalitarian regimes, the meaning of this word evolved to carry pejorative overtones. The discourse to follow hence refers to indoctrination as an unethical and undesirable practice. 10. For example, the social distribution of knowledge and its relation to power and lan- guage, as in , or in relation to Historical . 11. Compass, “A Christian Education.” www.abc.net.au/compass/s2365157.htm [originally aired September 14, 2008]. 12. Ibid. 13. Christian Schools Australia (CSA) have over 150 independent Christian schools mem- bers and over 50,000 students. Australian Association of Christian Schools (AACS) have around 100 member schools and 33,000 students. Christian Parent Controlled (CPC) Schools Ltd have 86 schools and over 23,000 students. See: CSA, AACS, and CPCS. 14. According to the CCS website, 89% of students “come from active Christian ”,

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and their teachers are “all Christian fully qualified” with a prerequisite that all appli- cants are “Christians of a reformed evangelical faith.” 15. To refer to my own case, the well-meaning intentions of my parents, school teachers and church leaders, for me to adopt their religion was initially a success. Until my twenties, I was fully committed to the Christian narrative, believing 100% in the Bible as the Word of God, and Jesus as God’s son who died and rose again. While some of these graduates (like myself) might find their beliefs evolve later on in life, my social experience and observation of the growth in fundamentalism entices me to consider such cases to be rare. 16. This is a valid question for wider situations including a Communist teacher in a Com- munist country, a Muslim teacher in a Muslim school, a Christian teacher in a Christian school, etc. 17. Learning that the Christian beliefs of my past were classified as ‘fundamentalist’ and part of a new movement was a shock to me when I began researching this paper. It is astounding just how little knowledge about Christianity I had after 20 years of Christian education. 18. Enculturation is defined as the process whereby individuals learn their group’s culture, through experience, observation, and instruction. 19. Education has a deep connection with power and economic, social and political privi- lege; it can be used as a weapon for cultural repression and denial of education can be used as a weapon of war. Segregated education causes inequality, inferiority and stereotyping; history can be manipulated for political purposes; and textbooks can be used to oppress child imaginations, diminish self-worth, and encourage hate. See UNICEF 2000. 20. OSCE 2006. Decision No.13/06 on, para. 5. 21. ODIHR, March 2007. Developed by ODIHR and OSCE together with input from experts and leading scholars, policy makers, educators, lawyers, and representatives of inter-gov- ernmental and non-governmental organizations. 22. Decision No.13/06 on Combating Intolerance and Non-Discrimination and Promoting Mutual Respect and Understanding, para. 5, 14th OSCE Ministerial Council, Brussels, 4-5 December 2006, available at http://www.osce.org/documents/mcs/2006/12/22565_en.pdf. 23. Peace education is also known as: education for democracy, civic education, tolerance education, human rights education and education for sustainable development. These all are ulti- mately education for creating a culture of peace. 24. UNESCO November 1995 II.6-II.12., 9. Declaration of the 44th session of the Interna- tional Conference on Education (Geneva, October 1994) endorsed by the General Conference of UNESCO at its 28th session (Paris, November 1995). 25. “Cross-cultural ignorance”[1] are the words of noted peace educator Betty Reardon quoted in Harris and Morrison 2003, 67 (see Reardon 1997). “Human Rights as Education for Peace,” in Human Rights Education for the Twenty-first Century, edited by George J Andreapoulos and Richard Claude (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press). 26. This has been applied in “peace camps in the Middle East with Israeli and Palestinian children, and other places where people are attempting to transform ethnic, religious and racial hatred” (Harris and Morrison, 2003, 67). 27. Creative mediums such as documentaries, films, novels and music, are seen to be the most effective forms of interfaith sharing, says Smock (2003). Popular books such as: Diamond

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1997 and the discovery of the re- of macro-history were useful to me in my attempt to understand myself in context (Christian, 2004). 28. In reference to Paulo Freire’s (1970) concept of ‘Conscientization’. 29. Words of Australia’s best-known atheist Phillip Adams quoted in Compass 2009. 30. A deduction drawn from personal communication with Atheists and the speakers of the 2009 ABC. Compass documentary “The Atheists”. 31. For example see TCPC and work of Spong. 32. Here I have applied Galtung’s TRANSCEND model of conflict transformation.

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