In this essay I elaborate on the theoretical framework – that of Millian liberalism – that Max Charlesworth brought to many public issues, including that of the relation between education and religion. I will then apply this framework to a debate in which I have been recently involved myself: a debate around the provision of religious instruction in public schools. In the first section I expound Charlesworth’s rejection of secularism in education in a liberal pluralist state and his defence of faith-based schooling. In the second section I uncover the religious motivations behind the Victorian government’s 1950 amendments to the apparently secularist Victorian Education Act of 1872. In section three, I explore the notion of secularism more fully and suggest that the struggle between those who espouse religious instruction in state schools and those who oppose it while advocating a more general form of education about religion is a symptom of a deeper tension between liberalism and communitarianism within the culture of modernist, liberal states.
Field of Research
220199 Applied Ethics not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective
950499 Religion and Ethics not elsewhere classified