Non-confessional Ceremonies at compulsory Schools in Church buildings – perspectives on a debated phenomenon

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Is it valid to have ceremonies in the compulsory School in church buildings, albeit Sweden does no longer have a state religion? Many, but not all, churches have continued to celebrate the ending of the semesters in the church even after the year 1999, when the Lutheran Church of Sweden and the State got separated (according to recent statistics, 52% of all such ceremonies were held in a church building Source: Kyrkans tidning).

The phenomenon have not only been much debated in both media and juridical policy making, but also in schools and Christian denominations holding such ceremnies. Still, no research exist on the phenomenon, and the debate often focus on emotions rather than research.

This project therefore has the aim to identity and analyse conflicts within the phenomenon of non-confessional ceremonies in church buildings that have arisen between the agents school and church.

The data collection will be made through document studies (policies, laws, guidelines et.c.); interviews with head masters and priests; and field studies of such ceremonies. The project is limited to compulsory non-confessional public schools and the Lutheran Church of Sweden.

I a time of polarisation between secular majority society and religious minorities, the interest of conflict has increased, but the interest of deminishing such conflicts have, however, decreased. Secular schools and churches have different, often conflicting, aims, and these aims are in the centre for this project. In order to search for a more non-conflict-focused juxtaposition, the project have jet another aim; that is to minimise the conflict and to learn both parties to of the other’s aims and ways of acting.

As theoretical foundation, the project is using Stanley Hauerwas’ post-secular thoughts on paralell, particular narratives, where the secular church can be understood as one such narrative, and the confessional church as another narrative, both of which have difficulties in understanding different narratives. The school narrative will be examined through Educational research theories, and the church narrative will be analysed through theories of Practical Theology. In order to seek less conflicting ways of interaction, Religious Dialogue theory by Marianne Moyaert will be used, a theory much inspired by the pragmaticist Charles Sanders Peirce.

The Project, which is meant to be publiched in a monograph, was initiated in 2016 ay the University of Borås, and is predicted to be concluded in the spring of 2017.

Contact person:

Dr. Viktor Aldrin
Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences Education
University of Borås