17 November 2003
The comparative study of religions and intercultural dialogue
Motion for a recommendation
presented by Mr Schneider and others
This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it
1. The Council of Europe has already addressed the role of religions in our democratic societies. The Assembly recalls recommendations 1202 (1993) on religious tolerance in a democratic society, and 1396 (1999) on religion and democracy.
2. The Assembly also emphasises the key role assigned to education by the Council of Europe in the construction of a democratic society. Nevertheless, the comparative study of religions in schools has not yet received special attention.
3. Knowledge of religions is an integral part of knowledge of the history of man and civilisations. It should be distinguished from belief in a specific religion or its practice. Improving this knowledge would help the development of intercultural dialogue and religious tolerance in our societies.
4. Faced with the many prejudices and stereotypes that can exist regarding religions, it is important that they should be taught in a structured and reasoned manner in the school framework. This would help combat more effectively fanaticism, fundamentalism and xenophobia.
5. The Assembly invites the governments of the member states:
i. to include in their school and university programmes comparative studies on religion, their history, and their philosophies and practices;
ii. to consult, in elaborating the content of these studies, the representatives of the various religions;
iii. to ensure that these studies are taught both at lay establishments and at religious educational institutions.
6. The Assembly recommends to the Committee of Ministers:
i. to elaborate guidelines for the comparative study of religions in school and university curricula;
ii. to promote the creation of a European training institute for the comparative study of religions, which could be sited in Strasbourg where appropriate institutions and resources already exist.
Signed (see overleaf)
Schneider, France, EDG
Atkinson, United Kingdom, EDG
Azzolini, Italy, EPP/CD
Davis, United Kingdom, SOC
De Puig, Spain, SOC
Eörsi, Hungary, LDR
Gadzinowski, Poland, SOC
Geveaux, France, EDG
Iwiński, Poland, SOC
Jakič, Slovenia, LDR
Libicki, Poland, EDG
Lintner, Germany, EPP/CD
Magnusson, Sweden, SOC
Markowski, Poland, EPP/CD
Mercan, Turkey, EPP/CD
Muratović, Bosnia and Herzegovina, EPP/CD
Pericleous Papadopoulos, Cyprus, LDR
Pourgourides, Cyprus, EPP/CD
Schreiner, France, EDG
Surján, Hungary, EPP/CD
Wielowieyski, Poland, EPP/CD
Wohlwend, Liechtenstein, EPP/CD
Zapfl-Helbling, Switzerland, EPP/CD
1 SOC: Socialist Group
EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party
EDG: European Democratic Group
LDR : Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group
UEL: Group of the Unified European Left
NR: not registered in a group