Hanna de Jong-Markus

Religious Tolerance as Educational Goal in Orthodox Protestant Schools 3 51 3.1 Introduction In Western societies, tolerance is frequently promoted as an educational goal because it is perceived to be essential for dealing with diversity in society (Bertram-Troost & Miedema, 2017; Schiefer & Van der Noll, 2017; Van der Straten Waillet & Roskam, 2013). However, since there is no universal definition of tolerance, it is difficult to define what this educational goal means (cf. Afdal, 2006; Bertram-Troost & Miedema, 2017; Forst, 2004; Van den Brink, 2002; Vogt, 1997). Moreover, in strong religious communities, the value of tolerance is sometimes debated (Kater, 2017; Kole & De Kruijf, 2005; Sremac & Ganzevoort, 2017) and, although empirical evidence to support this reasoning has rarely been offered, public opinion sometimes holds that strong religious schools threaten the personal development of pupils and social cohesion through a lack of attention to individual autonomy and tolerance (Bertram-Troost, 2011; Everett, 2012; Miedema & Bertram-Troost, 2008; Willems et al., 2010). For teachers in strong religious schools, it might therefore be an especially challenging goal to teach tolerance. In the current article we aim for a better theoretical understanding of the potential tensions that teachers in strong religious schools might experience and what this means for teachers’ professionalism. Our research questions therefore are: What does religious tolerance as an educational goal mean, and how can the tensions that might emerge in orthodox Protestant primary schools around that goal be understood from a theoretical perspective? When we speak about ‘religious tolerance’, we refer specifically to situations in which the object of tolerance is a religious ‘other’ instead of the object being certain views or behaviours, for example, about homosexuality, that are tolerated or not within a religious tradition. This article also functions as a theoretical exploration to underpin a broader empirical research project on how orthodox Protestant primary school (hereafter called OPPS) teachers professionally reconcile a religiously diverse society and the mono-religious characteristics of their schools. Religious tolerance is chosen as a central topic because the tensions between strong convictions (mono-religiosity) within a religiously diverse context arise in a particularly notable way, since the confrontation between these two poles is central to the tolerance concept (see section 3.3). Furthermore, without tolerance, social cohesion in a diverse society cannot exist (cf. Sremac & Ganzevoort, 2017; Van der Straten Waillet & Roskam, 2013; Weisse, 2009). We expect that the insights we gain with this concept as starting point will also be helpful more broadly in understanding other aspects related to citizenship education in religious schools. Our starting point is the current situation of Dutch OPPSs. However, we assume that the outcomes of this