Doc. 9995

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)

Signed 1:

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