Hanna de Jong-Markus

Distinction, Identification, and Recognition 6 115 and religious others. It is, however, remarkable that the participants also involved God as a third party in these relationships, as they had both implicit and explicit beliefs about how they positioned themselves and religious others before God. This happened in a different way in each category and can be variously interpreted. First, in the category of distinction, there was a tendency for the teachers to emphasize that they belonged to God and were connected to Him. They then highlighted the differences with the religious other, who did not know God and who was, thus, remote from God. Because of the perceived distance between God and the religious other, the teachers also experienced some distance between themselves and the religious other. Second, in the category of recognition, the teachers foregrounded the idea that religious others are human beings like they are. They highlighted the connection with the religious other’s distance from God: both teachers and religious others held the same positions as human beings before God. Both teachers and religious others were human beings known by God, deserved their position in the world, and had the freedom of choice for or against God. Third, regarding beliefs in the category of identification, God was indirectly involved, for He was the anchor point for Christians. However, “society” was also an important party when the teachers described their relation to religious others in this category. They identified themselves with religious others because they felt a shared distance from society, i.e., by being a religious minority and having certain norms and values. Society was also mentioned as a party regarding the subcategory of beliefs about “freedom of choice” (recognition). The teachers recognized that freedom of choice was a necessary condition for a functioning society. The distinctiveness of the Christian faith, and religious others The second part of our research question concerned the relation between beliefs about religious others and the Christian faith. These beliefs were in line with each other, both in the content and the nature of the different beliefs. First, God and how people could have a relation with Him was central to beliefs about the distinctiveness of the Christian faith. This was also a central point in the beliefs about religious others, as we showed that God was involved as a third party. Second, on the nature of beliefs, both sets of beliefs were characterized by some ambivalence. On one hand, the teachers showed clear beliefs about the distinctiveness of the Christian faith. On the other hand, they also showed reluctance toward decisive statements and were clearly searching for what to believe. This ambivalence was also reflected in beliefs about religious others: beliefs about distinction and identification, for example, were not unequivocal.