Religious education in Germany and England: the recent work of Hans-Georg Ziebertz

By John M Hull

British Journal of Religious Education Vol. 27 No.1, January 2005, pp. 5-17


Religious education in England and in Germany is similar in many respects and different in others. In both countries the subject must embrace religious plurality, and in both there are questions about the role of the religious communities in their relation to religious education. In his recent book, Religious Education in a Plural, Western Society: Problems and Challenges, Hans-Georg Ziebertz argues that the English model is not appropriate for Germany, and an alternative rationale is proposed as being more appropriate for the German situation. Having outlined his argument, the present article suggests that Ziebertz’s objections to English religious education are unjustified and that his own proposals are no more than an interim measure, made necessary by the control over religious education exercised by the German churches. It is anticipated that German and English religious education will develop along similar lines in the future, and the present dialogue will be mutually beneficial.


      In spite of the fact that religious education in several Western European countries seems to be converging (Schweitzer 2002), significant differences remain (Schreiner 2000). As with other aspects of its cultural and social life, the very experience of growing closer tends to highlight the differences between the various countries (Schreiner 2002).
      The publication in English of a book by the Professor of Practical Theology and Religious Education in the University of Würzburg marks a significant step forward in this dialogue (Ziebertz 2003). Other readers of the volume may be struck, as I was, by the general similarity of German and English religious education, confirmed by Ziebertz’s account, while at the same time realising how different they are (Meyer 1995, 1999).

Religious Education in a Plural, Western Society: The Structure of the Book

      The book is organised into eleven chapters in five parts. The first part contains two chapters and deals with the social contexts of religious education; the second part deals with the goals of religious education and has four chapters. The third section has two chapters and is about religious education and the plurality of religions and values. The fourth part is entitled ‘The Dimension of Space’, and its two chapters deal with the school and the public situation of the subject and the final section, which has one chapter, deals with religious education as a scientific discipline.

The Argument

      The preface points out that the central problem facing religious education is plurality, and the character of the subject depends upon the way it conceives of and responds to plurality.  Two approaches are distinguished: in the presence of the plurality of religions and values religious education might adopt a neutral, objective approach, or  it might be argued that since there is no neutral, objective point from which religion can be studied, some other approach is required. Ziebertz makes it clear that he will argue for the latter position (p. 7). The success of the book can therefore be assessed by the extent to which this non-neutral position is set forth. This takes place mainly in the first three parts of the book, dealing with the pre-suppositions, the pedagogy, and the diversity of that with which religious education is concerned. The last two sections consider various matters arising from the theory and practice outlined in the body of the book.
      The author now raises the question ‘How should the religions deal with plurality if they claim a more or less exclusive approach to the ultimate truth (p.14)?’ The very nature of modernity and post-modernity is plurality, and it is not possible to go back to a period before this. Insightful distinctions are made between plurality within each religion, between religions, and within the individual person. Moreover, these kinds of plurality must also be set against the growing diversity of society itself, and the many ways religions relate to their secular contexts (pp. 16f). To be meaningful, religious education must have a pluralistic way of dealing with plurality (p.18). It is not enough to have religious education syllabuses that reflect or even affirm plurality; in its own theory and methods, the subject must itself become plural.
      This may take place through developing an objective view of religions, but at least in Germany where the churches still have considerable influence over religious education, another way must be found. Religious education is to become diverse and to encounter diversity by means of dialogue, and this will proceed from the experience of diversity within the lives of the children themselves.
      This approach is developed in more detail in the second and most significant part of the volume. Here the thoughtful reader will find many penetrating insights.

In the modern, rationally constructed world, religious instruction has the goal of cognitively equipping future adults for the realm of religion so that their personal religiousness develops similarly to their general development (and does not persist at a child’s level) and so that they can perceive and judge the religious dimension of reality appropriately (p. 90).

The discussion of identity is particularly good, although rather old-fashioned in its use of male gender language: ‘The individual has become an entrepreneur who has to build his identity himself’ (p. 99). If we are to construct a theology of religious education, then the role of God is not to confer identity but to ask questions. The question about questionability is in itself the decisive religious question, and the objective of religious education is to help pupils to interpret this questionability in the light of ‘the contents and symbols of a religion’  (p. 104). Thus the subject is less concerned with the transmission of religious content than with the encouragement of this process. ‘When one recognises the questioning of the world and human existence as a problem, one is reflecting religiously’ (p. 105).

The Heart of the Book

      Although the four chapters in part two are the centre of the author’s understanding of the nature of religious education under the inescapable conditions of plurality, chapter seven brings Ziebertz to what I take to be the heart of the book. This lies in the fact that in Germany the Protestant and Catholic churches continue to have substantial control of religious education, and this is in striking contrast with the more secular situation in England and Wales.  Since the objective, neutral approach, which he sees in England and Wales, is vulnerable to certain criticisms, an alternative approach must be found which ‘sees religious education as being from within religion’. This will take the form of inter-religious dialogue. So that the pupil may not find this irrelevant, the depth of human existence itself must first be made clear. Since religions represent potentially competing offers of salvation, information must be given on how the competing requirements for truth are handled. This brings us to a problem of Christian theology, and it is significant that the Catholic Church has acknowledged that salvation may be found in but not through other religions (p.113).  Following a concise summary of recent discussions by such theologians as Rahner and Knitter on various interpretations of absoluteness, uniqueness and exclusivity, Ziebertz concludes that the very nature of human language places faith in a situation of exploration.  Since language itself is ‘incapable of speaking of absoluteness’ (p. 114), religion must be understood as quest, and education must reflect this.
      In the last two sections of the book, the concept of space is used skilfully to bind together several questions about the character of religious education, the space of the school, the space of the pupil’s life, the sacred space of religion, and the public space of the political reality within which education takes place. The final chapter deals with the nature of research in religious education considered as a branch of practical theology, and is as rich and interesting as the rest of the book.

The English Model

      Since Ziebertz suggests that the main alternative to his own approach is the neutral, objective study of religion, an approach he associates with England, we must now turn our attention to the adequacy of his description of religious education in England before trying to comment on the positive position adopted in the book. Ziebertz agrees that ‘a purely more informative (multi-religious) Religious Education for all students would solve some problems’, and he points out that ‘England in particular is often referred to as an example of multi-religious instruction’.
      As far as the nomenclature of British religious education is concerned, the expression ‘comparative religion’ was in use since 1937 at least, and remained in general use until the 1970s. At this time the expression ‘multi-religious’ began to be used, but when the limitations of this expression began to be realised, in the 1980s the subject was increasingly described as ‘the study of world religions’. The term ‘multi-religious religious education’ fell into disuse after the 1988 Education Reform Act. Today there is quite a variety of descriptions in vogue, but usually the subject is simply called ‘religious education’.
      When he begins to describe what takes place in England, Ziebertz is over dependant upon early forms of descriptive and typological phenomenology, although he does not use these expressions. ‘The focus of Religious Education on the assuming, familiarising, describing and arranging of structures, contents, rituals and social forms of religion, i.e. an instruction about religion [emphasis original] is what makes it (i.e. religious education in England) subject to criticism’ (p. 111).
      This is evidently an account of the dimensional approach to the study of religions as described by Ninian Smart (Smart 1973a; Sealey 1982) although Smart is not referred to by name. Several features of this ‘secular approach’ are listed. Religion itself provides only a relative claim of truth; religion in education can have only an instrumental character, and the concentration upon religious forms leads to the dismissal of the experiences of the students. Moreover, the neutral approach erroneously assumes that the pre-occupation with religion will have no consequences on the individual view of life.
      These features of religious education, Ziebertz continues, spring from the secular approach itself, and one must ask ‘whether the secular worldview, which appoints itself an ideologically free identity, is not itself an ideology’ (p. 111). ‘It is enlightening’, Ziebertz remarks, ‘that even after many years of experience with multi-religious instruction in a fellow Western country, the question of whether the existential dimension of Religious Education could be reviewed remains’ (pp. 111-12).
      This last sentence is unclear, and this is surely due to the translation from the German. There is a continuous review of the existential element in religious education taking place in both Germany and England, and Ziebertz’s own book carries out such a review, relating the existential dimension of the lives of the students to the transcendent aspect of human nature.  That such review continues is not a reflection upon the inadequacy of religious education in the UK but a comment on the changing character of the lives of young people, a factor which Ziebertz discusses with sensitivity. It is true that some of the earlier, more confident forms of phenomenological religious education in the UK did question the relevance of the subjectivity of the pupil, but this has long since been corrected in the development of religious education theory in Britain. Since the mid 1980s up to the present day, such religious educators as Grimmitt (1987), Erricker (2000), Jackson (1997) and Wright (1993), none of whom get a mention in the book, have not only challenged the more objective features of early phenomenology, but have offered a variety of alternative models. This does not mean that English multi-religious religious education has failed, but only shows the continued vitality of the multi-religious approach, although the expression ‘multi-religious’ has fallen out of favour in the last ten years.
      Incidentally, Ninian Smart defined quite carefully the kind of neutrality required by the study of religions, and defended his work against the charge that studying religion through disciplines such as psychology and sociology implies reducing religion to para-phenomenal status (Smart 1973a).
      While Ziebertz acknowledges the variety of religious education theory and practice in Britain, remarking ‘that after years of strong endorsement of a religious beginning (“multi-faith-approach”), the current situation is more differentiated’ (p. 111), he does not seem to recognise that the emphasis on religious diversity is still a dominant aspect of religious education in England and Wales in spite of the fact that in general English religious educators no longer recommend an unqualified phenomenological approach. The English experience shows that recognition of many religions and many approaches to the teaching of religions is not dependent on the older phenomenological approach.  Moreover, he never examines the variety of religious education theory which has flourished in the UK over the last fifteen to twenty years, or notes the significance of the fact that the religious diversity is consistent with maintaining the essentially secular nature of the subject.
      Ziebertz may have been unduly influenced by Ninian Smart’s well known objection to theology (Smart 1973b), and consequently he does not notice that there have been many attempts to create a theology of religious education in the UK – J.W.D.Smith (1975), Jeff Astley (1994; Astley and Francis 1996) and Trevor Cooling (1994) to name only a handful – and on the whole these all argue that the theological task is to grapple with secular and religious diversity in order to justify religious education in the state schools of a plural democracy, and not to argue for an  in-house religious alternative as a basis for the subject.
      Ziebertz summarises his objections to what he regards as the typical English religious education by saying that the ‘multi-religious perspective… is built around the It-perspective’. This ‘means the taking of a widely neutral viewpoint and viewing the religions from the outside. It frees itself from religious or theological personality and views all religions from a removed, objective position’. ‘Thus this multi-religious approach reduces the importance of a specific religion and introduces a new dimension: bringing all religions to the same questions’ (pp. 118f). ‘Furthermore, an objective It-perspective is maintained without the possibility of adopting one such position, unless it is sufficiently substantiated’ (p. 119).
      In his discussion, however, Ziebertz overlooks the significance of the debate within the UK about spiritual development as an aim of religious education, and fails to notice, so it seems to me, that his criticism is confined to what is called ‘teaching about religion’. He ignores the discussion about ‘learning from religion’, with its personal significance for the life of the student.
      Since it would be hard to believe that a scholar so distinguished and experienced as Hans-Georg Ziebertz would fail to take cognisance of the recent literature of the subject of his critique, we must conclude that the real reason for his turning to his own view of the subject is not so much the alleged failure of the so called objective approach but the political fact that in Germany the influence of institutional Christianity is so great. Ziebertz’s problem is not the failure of English religious education but the ecclesiastical captivity of German religious education.

German Religious Education: The Problem

      We must now turn to examine his own suggestions. In the opening pages of his seventh chapter, Ziebertz outlines the problem with which religious education in Germany is faced. Until 1968 the Protestant and Catholic churches maintained ‘an unchallenged religious monopoly’ (p. 110) over religious education. ‘Everything that appeared to be “living religion” was mediated by the churches’ (p. 110). However, a gulf has opened up today between institutional religion and personal religion, with the result that ‘any attempt to attach catechistic expectations to religious teaching is hopeless’ (p. 111). Ziebertz describes this situation as the ‘developmental compulsion’ (p. 111) under which religious education is constrained, meaning the historical and social development of which he speaks. ‘Studies of the religiousness of students reveal that the classroom situation itself is a plural environment, posing a significant obstacle to the possibility of instruction under a Christian church-sponsored model’ (p. 117).
      Given this situation, the best way forward is a dialogical approach to religious education, but this will not ‘reduce learning into an accumulation of knowledge over different religions but expands it into the formation of a subjective reference to all religions’ (p.120). And this will involve switching back and forth between the inside and the outside of religion.  In this way, anticipating a possible objection to his own position, Ziebertz concludes that  ‘The criticism alleging an exclusionary mono-religious perspective that does not take into account the alternatives can be dismissed’  (p. 120). But is this conclusion justified?
      The fact remains that the existence of the churches as public bodies and their close relationship to the state in Germany, Austria and Switzerland means that religious education has an ‘unlimited responsibility for the continuation of Christian faith’ (p. 172). For this reason

The specific goal of Religious Education is to help the students develop a set of values - from the Christian faith in critical reference to traditional faith. Religious Education prepares students of the Christian faith to take part in the public forming of opinions as Christians’ (p. 175).

Ziebertz says that this is not indoctrination because it will be based on discourse, the conversational or dialogical method. But whatever the method, the intention and the desired outcome is to form Christians. The method is not that of indoctrination but the purpose is undoubtedly mono-religious.
      In the light of this dilemma, we can understand why Ziebertz feels it necessary to say that ‘the formation of a Christian-religious worldview’ is a responsibility of the school, although, because school is only one of many influences on young people, the school does not carry sole responsibility (p.61). Similarly, although religious education is to be an opening of the religious dimension of reality, this is to be interpreted in the light of Christian faith.  Thus, religious education can show ‘how the message of Christian faith deals with every one of those questions that are anthropologically defined as mysteries of our existence’ (p.68). Some church people might think that Ziebertz’s programme of exploring the questions of human existence in a way open to all religions is a potential threat to Christian hegemony, but they are assured that ‘A broad view of religiousness creates the base we need for exploring the search for meaning, hope, and salvation of humankind without staking a claim to an independence of Christian education from the churches’ (p.77). It is now easier to understand why, in his chapter on practical theology, Ziebertz gives, as an example of the kind of religious education research that is now required, ‘the religion teacher as a witness of the faith’ (p. 193). This concept, he says, is to be re-examined, but the very fact that this problem is mentioned at all shows where Zeibertz is coming from and the situation of the audience he is addressing.
      The book conveys a vivid impression of a religious education caught between a rock and a hard place. On p. 54 we read ‘Religious Education in schools does not concern itself with the diversified forms of religion’ but the next but one sentence states ‘Therefore the functions of Religious Education must include making pupils aware of religious plurality and giving them the ability to communicate in such a system’. But if this is not to be concerned with the diversified forms of religion, what is it?  Perhaps Zeibertz means that although from the point of view of the study of religion and Christian theology, religious education does not concern itself with the diversified forms of religion, from the point of view of the learner, the point of view of the pupils’ life-world, or the didactic point of view, it is indeed concerned with the diversified forms of religion.  This interpretation is supported by the next but one sentence after that: ‘The focal point of the teaching is determined by the religion or denomination in which it takes place. This, however, should not prevent exposure to the plurality of religion’. This suggests that the idea is that religious education does not in the first instance concern itself with the diverse forms of religion; it does not begin from that diversity, but from a particular cultural continuity, within a certain religious tradition in which the pupils and their teachers mostly already are. From within that subjective starting place, religious education advances to consider plurality. This interpretation would be consistent with the distinction between equal respect and special recognition made by Charles Taylor, of which Ziebertz approves as being relevant to the German situation (p. 45). All faiths are to be respected but Christian faith is to receive special recognition. ‘We have to proceed on the assumption that the Christian churches in Germany, as the dominant religious tradition, will try to defend denominational teaching for as long as possible’ (p. 47). Ziebertz himself would like to see a situation where other religions have an equal access to religious education, and suggests that in areas where Islam is significant, there should be programmes of Islamic education, but he is afraid that even this is unlikely to take place in areas where the Catholic Church dominates. The church insists that the alternative to Catholic religious education should be ethics, and the emergence of a multi-religious approach is most unlikely in these areas. Even the Protestant churches are not particularly interested so ‘the transformation of today’s Catholic or Protestant Religious Education into multi-Religious Education is not high on any agenda’ (p. 47). It is clear that Ziebertz regrets this, and hopes that recognition for Islam and other religions will gradually be accepted by the public institutions. In fact, this is already taking place in some of the Northern German cities, as a result of teaching through the life-world of the pupils (Weisse 2003).

Theological Questions

      It is at this point in the logic of the book that we must review the theology with which Ziebertz seeks to commend his approach to the churches of Germany, and presumably to Christian teachers and parents. The task falls into two sections. First, there is the question of the theological justification for the kind of dialogical religious education commended by the book, and as a vital part of that process, the reflection upon the transcendental character of human existence as a prelude to explicit Christian and religious education. Here there is no great difficulty, since the ground has been well prepared by the philosophy of dialogue of Martin Buber, hinted at when Ziebertz refers to the ‘it’ approach to religion, the Christian existentialism of Gabriel Marcel, and the theology of correlation and the exploration of depth in Paul Tillich, not that either of these is actually referred to in the book. This widely recognised theology of the Christian person, or theological anthropology, offers plenty of support for this pedagogy.
      However, the other problem is more difficult. This is the question of the status of Christian faith among the religions.  Here, Ziebertz’s thinking involves two propositions. The first we may describe as the essentialist proposition, and the second as the progressive proposition.  The essentialist proposition is clearly expressed when Ziebertz says ‘It is not the revelation that is placed under reservation, but our historically and culturally conditioned interpretation of it’ (p. 28), and on p. 48 we read

This does not mean that Christian theology treats God’s revelation of himself as relative, but only the interpretation and the historically changing perception of this self-revelation. . . It is not the Gospel that is the subject of discussion, “but the multiple possibilities of access to its vitally significant meaning, which continues to be linked to the diversity and variety of the relevant socio-cultural conditions” (p. 48).

      The problem with this point of view is that if revelation is immediate, there is not much point in speaking about the socio-cultural and the historical conditions in which it is received, and we would be committed to a positivism of revelation and thus to fundamentalism. On the other hand, if revelation is mediated through language, through human psychology, and through all the evolutionary and social factors which have made us human, then we must admit that there is no privileged access that can cut the corners, or go around the mediation and have direct knowledge of the revelation. In that case, we have no independent knowledge of it and it becomes pointless to speak of it in this way. Rather than trying to deal with the unmediated essence of revelation, contemporary theology would do better to theologise about the actual or interpreted phenomena which constitute us.
      The second line of thought is significant but inconclusive. This is what I have called the progressive character of faith.  If pluralism and the process of education demand dialogue, then the Christian faith must be more open to dialogue, and this means that faith must be increasingly understood as a quest. This in turn implies the self-relativisation of faith. (p. 48). This means that we must distinguish between a claim to truth and a claim to validity, or to put it slightly differently, claims to truth must not be turned into claims of validity for others.  However, this promising line of thought is not developed. Instead, Ziebertz simply concludes that ‘we do not yet have the Archimedean Principle at our disposal that would allow us to see the religions relatively’ (p. 49).  This sense of movement is one of the most impressive features of the book; everything is in a process of flux – the religiosity of young people, the shifting relations between religions and culture, and the conversational nature of education – everything moves on. The reader cannot but look forward eagerly to a more adequate theological articulation of this process, and one wonders to what extent the rationale for plural religious education offered here will continue to be relevant when several religions have achieved the equal recognition to which Ziebertz evidently looks forward.

Practical Theology or Educational Studies?

      The final chapter of the book illustrates both its strengths and its weaknesses. As a discussion of the research methodology appropriate to practical theology, the chapter could hardly be more helpful, particularly the excellent comments on the so-called qualitative/quantitative distinction. However, this positive evaluation brings us at the same moment to one of the underlying problems of the whole approach. Religious education is thought of as logically situated within the discipline of practical theology, and is not considered as a discipline within educational studies. But the way into a rationale for modern religious education lies through the character of education, and the question of the secularity or so-called objectivity of religious education must be seen as governed by the independence of education as a discipline within the social sciences. Perhaps social and professional context might help us to understand the different emphasis between German and English religious educators.  German religious educators are, on the whole, situated within faculties and departments of theology, which are further divided into Catholic or Protestant.  Maybe this is why it looks to them as if the religious education of England and Wales has succumbed to a secularity, which presumes to judge even religion. By the same token, perhaps it is significant in the development of a secular British religious education that almost all academic religious educators in England and Wales are located in schools or departments of education and not, as in the United States and Germany, in departments of denominational theology.
      Secular religious education cannot be easily understood as a branch of practical theology because it must then be subject to the norms and expectations of the Christian faith, of which it would be an expression. Religious education thus becomes a problem in the whole relation between faith and the secularity of modern intellectual life, at least for some kinds of practical theology (Hull 2004). But do we consider that other social sciences, such as sociology, anthropology and psychology have become dominated by a secular ideology? Perhaps this is indeed the case, but then theology must grapple with their relative autonomy and not seek to re-domesticate them as branches of theology. To put it more succinctly, any adequate theory of religious education, funded by the state in modern, pluralist societies, must conceive of it as a branch of education, and in turn education must be given the limited and relative autonomy proper to the other social sciences. They, in turn, must be considered in the same light as the autonomy of the natural sciences. This is a significant part of what we call modernity, and becomes even more urgent and necessary under the conditions of post-modernity.
      The social sciences, including religious education, cannot claim to be neutral or objective. We have learned from Jürgen Habermas that knowledge is always encompassed by human interest and motivation (Habermas 1987). For this reason, we should not confuse autonomy with objectivity or neutrality. Religious education, like the other sciences and humanities, is not value-free, nor should it be. To put the same issue in another way, there is a difference between secularity and secularism, a distinction which might have clarified Ziebertz’s argument in certain places. He does distinguish between plurality and pluralism but not between secularity and secularism. If, as he says, pluralism is the public justification of plurality, secularism is the ideological form of secularity. This is why my own recent article describing a central feature of English religious education is entitled ‘The Blessings of Secularity’ and precisely not ‘The Blessings of Secularism’ (Hull 2002, 2003).
      It is noticeable that Ziebertz has the same difficulty in acknowledging the secularity of the lives of some young people as he finds in recognising the secularity of religious education theory.

Pupils always approach other religions on the basis of their own personal religiousness. Many students are themselves, however, only partial members of their religion. If we speak of inter-religious learning, the inter must include the diversity of their subjective religiousness (p. 109).

What place is envisaged here for an encounter with the secularity of many pupils in modern Western countries? Or is this a kind of Tillichian depth theology which does not really acknowledge the existence of the genuinely secular, the thoroughly non-religious?

Studies on the religiousness of students reveal that the classroom situation itself is a plural environment, posing a significant obstacle to the possibility of instruction under a Christian church-sponsored model. Already the proportion of those who are believers to varying degrees fill the position of others and serve a purpose in the development of personal religious identity (p. 117).

Yes, no doubt the others do serve a purpose in the formation of religious identity. But are they honoured in their experience of secular otherness? 
Ziebertz comes very close to speaking of secularity when he commends the creation of a ‘neighbourly relationship of religions’ (p. 54). This must lead to a certain relativisation of religions. How can the relation between religions become really that of neighbours if it must always be subject to Christian conceptions? Does not the concept of neighbourliness represent something which embraces the religions and is to that extent over and beyond them, a point or a value from which their relations may be contemplated? And is this not the case no matter to what extent the various religions themselves generate a concept of neighbourliness? Is not the implication that there is an ethical or human point of view which can relate the religions to each other and result in neighbourliness? We see that, at the end of the day, there is little more than a wafer-thin division between Ziebertz’s theory of religious education and that of the English secularity, of which he is so cautious.


      This study highlights a degree of difference between the nature of state-funded religious education as conceived of by some German and some British religious educators. It is important to say ‘some’, because there are in each  country those who argue against the main stream. Nevertheless, there does seem to be a significant difference of emphasis. From some German points of view, including that of Hans-Georg Ziebertz, the religious education of England and Wales appears to have capitulated to a secularism, which places religions in a false position of subservience and supposed objectivity. From the perspective of some British religious educators including me, it appears that most German religious education is restricted in its development as a branch of educational studies by excessive control by the Catholic and Protestant churches. If  religious education here is dominated by the secular point of view, there it is dominated by the ecclesial perspective.
      The religious education of Hans-Georg Ziebertz is an interim statement, adapted to meet the present situation of the churches in Germany. It does not pretend to be anything more, and the negative evaluation of the religious education of England and Wales does not occupy an essential place in the logic of the book. Ultimately, if religious education in Europe is to attain a form acceptable to the plurality of European life, religious education in Germany and in Britain must move closer together. On this side of the English Channel, religious education should, perhaps, develop a richer Christian theology, and explore its status as a branch of practical theology. That must be done additionally from the point of view of Islam, and other religions. On the continent, maybe religious education should gradually re-invent itself as a diverse religious activity, based upon a philosophy of secular education enriched by religious and theological interpretations from the church, the mosque and the synagogue. When that happens, the vision of Ziebertz, at present unattainable, may be realised.


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