Contemporary Views on Comparative Religion - In Celebration of Tim Jensen’s 65th Birthday - Peter Antes

Contemporary Views on Comparative Religion - In Celebration of Tim Jensen’s 65th Birthday - Peter Antes

21. Tracing the “Non-Denominational”: Japan and the UK

Contemporary Views on Comparative Religion - In Celebration of Tim Jensen’s 65th Birthday - Peter Antes

Brian Bocking [+-]
University College Cork
Brian Bocking is Professor emeritus of the Study of Religions at University College Cork, Ireland and formerly Professor at SOAS, University of London. In recent years he has been researching the emergence of global Buddhism, collaborating with Alicia Turner (Toronto), Laurence Cox (Maynooth) and Yoshinaga Shin’ichi (Kyoto) on the study of two ‘forgotten’ Irish Buddhists; U Dhammaloka (?1856‒?1913) and Charles Pfoundes (1840‒1907).

Description

This article explores some of the issues involved in the relations between ideas such as ‘state’, ‘religion’ ‘secular’ and ‘education’, using examples from Japan and the UK. The focus is on religion in state-provided education, since school education has remained the primary means by which modern citizens are socialised en masse. In Japan, from 1890 to 1945, the ultimate values taught in state schools were ‘Shinto’ in character but after 1945 all reference to religion in schools was abandoned, following the USA model. In the UK, Christianity was dominant throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and the Christian Bible was taught as history. Since the 1980’s, the Christian agenda in UK RE has largely given way to an ideal of benevolent religious multiculturalism. Yet in both Japan and the UK, ‘religious’ ideas taught in schools were always regarded by the state as ‘non-denominational’ (Jap: hishūkyō) – i.e. intentionally distinct from any actual religious sect or denomination. ‘School religion’ was in both countries a superordinate value-system, one of whose somewhat paradoxical effects was to secularise ‘real’ religious adherence, relegating it to the sphere of the individual or family. However, the rights, views and choices of individuals are increasingly the drivers of change in contemporary society. Does it matter that UK children now study multiple religions in school, while Japanese (or American) children study none?

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Citation

Bocking, Brian. 21. Tracing the “Non-Denominational”: Japan and the UK. Contemporary Views on Comparative Religion - In Celebration of Tim Jensen’s 65th Birthday. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 271-282 Feb 2016. ISBN 9781781791394. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=28108. Date accessed: 09 Aug 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.28108. Feb 2016

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