Hanna de Jong-Markus

Distinction, Identification, and Recognition 6 103 6.1 Introduction In our diverse world, the need for social cohesion is often underscored, and tolerance is often evoked as an important value. However, in public debates on citizenship education, it is regularly heard that highly religious primary schools cannot sufficiently support tolerance and social cohesion because of their homogeneous populations (Breemer & Lammers, 2014; Evans, 2016; Godwin et al., 2004; Halsema, 2019; Mason & Wareham, 2018; Terry et al., 2019; Tuastad, 2016). Evans, for example, has argued that “It’s hard to see how schools can effectively teach ‘mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs’ if they don’t even want kids with different faiths and beliefs in their schools” (2016). This raises the question of how religious others are actually thought of and taught in highly religious schools. Thus far, only a few empirical studies have addressed this topic a little (e.g. Bertram-Troost et al., 2015a; Bertram-Troost et al., 2018;DeMuynck, 2008; Exalto, 2017;Godwin et al., 2004). Therefore, in this explorative and interpretative empirical study, we conduct an indepth examination of what teachers in Dutch orthodox Protestant primary schools (hereafter called OPPS) believe about religious diversity. Our central question is as follows: What do OPPS teachers believe about religious others, and how might this be related to their beliefs about the Christian faith? We define religious others (in Dutch: niet- of andersgelovigen) as everyone who, from the participants’ perspective, has a different worldview from theirs. OPPSs can be characterized as quite mono-religious schools in which the truth of the Christian faith is emphasized and where the population is homogeneous (Alii, 2009; Sterkens, 2001). Knowledge about teachers’ beliefs is relevant because teachers are key figures in educational processes, and their beliefs are strong predictors of classroom decision-making (Borg, 2001; Fives & Buehl, 2012; Gommers & Hermans, 2003; Hattie, 2009; Häusler et al., 2019; Kelchtermans, 2009). What teachers believe about religious diversity is likely, therefore, to influence what is taught to the next generations about perceptions of religious others. Furthermore, various studies show that teachers experience difficulties in dealing with diversity (DeMuynck, 2008; Speelman, 2014). Through knowledge regarding what teachers of OPPSs believe about religious others, policymakers, teacher trainers, education advisors, and others who are involved with fostering social cohesion at OPPSs can improve their efforts. The current study also addresses the need for more research on the relations between teachers’ religious beliefs and their professional thinking and acting (Häusler et al., 2019). Beliefs about religious others as expressions of espoused theology In identifying what teachers in OPPSs believe about religious others, it is overly simplistic to look exclusively at the denomination of the school. Several factors need to be