The Problem Of Interaction Of Secular And Religious Components In Education


The article is dedicated to topical issues of interaction between secular and religious components in modern Russian education in the context of desecularization in the information age. It discusses the main approaches to the study of the phenomena of secular and religious, socio-cultural characteristics of their interaction, the basis, the character and the principles of interaction, presents the model of interaction of secular and religious education in leading countries of the world. The authors believe that the features of secular and religious interaction in education in the modern information age are due to social changes in public life, the increasing role of cultural, traditional values in education. The strengthening interaction between state structures and religion, which plays an important role in the spiritual life of Russian society and in the upbringing of the spiritual and moral culture of a person, objectively become the subject of research in various fields of sciences. The interdisciplinary nature of the study allows for a deep and comprehensive review of the basis and nature of the interaction of secular and religious components in education, its main aspects. It also aims at identifying features and analyzing the interaction between secular and religious structures, which was originally initiated by the Russian state and has been supported by it in recent years. The authors believe that the study of the issues of regulating and managing the interaction of secular and religious components in education will help improve and optimize democratic processes in society and in education.

Keywords: Religious componentsecularisminteractionaesthetic education


In recent years, the role and place of religion in society, determined by the limits of the freedom of conscience of a particular person, have noticeably increased and affect basic public interests and group cultural preferences. On the one hand, such interaction corresponds to democratic changes in society, liberal pluralism of cultural values, ideas and interests. On the other hand, the religious picture of the world, which undoubtedly represents one of the layers of culture, is assessed in the public consciousness as traditionally opposed to scientific objectified knowledge. In this regard, considering matters of religious education and religious traditions constitute the research objective, together with the questions of scientific and philosophical education that underlie the modern secular school and higher education. Another important point is resolving regulation issues of the interaction between secular and religious components in education, choosing its forms and methods that would allow to take into account the interests of different groups and communities of multinational, multi-religious Russian society.

Problem Statement

In our country today, these issues relate to the most important direction in modern education, indicated in regulatory documents and in the state educational policy as the formation of the spiritual and moral culture of the individual in a multi-religious multi-ethnic society. Today, it plays an important part in ensuring the spiritual unity of the people and unifying their moral values, achieving political and economic stability of the state. Spiritual and moral culture as a new subject area in teaching and out-of-school work, in youth politics in modern Russian education, is being introduced today in all educational institutions — in primary and secondary schools, in universities. The formation of spiritual culture is understood not just as another new separate discipline, but as a continuous process of the development of the world perception, attitude, the development of the sphere of human feelings, the formation of the outlook of young people. A successful solution to the stated problem is possible only with an understanding of the importance of spiritual and moral education, its support by the whole society with the active interaction of its most important institutions, including religious, with educational organizations.

Research Questions

The authors of the article consider the issues of the interaction of secular and religious in society and in education.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the research is to analyze the current state of the problem, whereby several approaches can be applied. The most important of them is associated with the rethinking of the concept of secularism not only in the Russian but also in the global context, because today's world is experiencing literally rapid transformations associated, in particular, with the processes of desecularization and transition to post-secularism. These transformations formed the basis for conducting scientific discourse in philosophy, cultural studies, sociology, psychology and pedagogy, the essence of which is to rethink the established ideas about religion and the secular, as well as problems associated with these concepts. The center of the discussion is formed by the questions concerning the definition of “secularism”, approaches to its understanding, outdated notions and points that remain relevant in theories of secularization. Where are the boundaries between religious and the secular? Can the increasing social significance of religion have a beneficial effect on modern societies? Where this impact should be located; what are its boundaries; where the “space” of religion ends and where the “invasion” into other domains such as law, economics, politics and education begins; who and how should supervise and define the “own” space of religion.

Research Methods

In the study of the problem, the methods of system analysis of philosophical and psychological-pedagogical literature on the problem were applied; historical and pedagogical analysis was used in order to identify the historical background of the phenomenon of secularism and the existing interaction between secular and religious components in society and education, as well as to structure the stages of their development to obtain the most complete notion of modern practices of this interaction.

Issues of relations between the secular and religious in education today are the subject of heated discussions in the world community, and in Russia, especially since the early 90s of the last century, when the question arose of the possibility of introducing religious studies in educational organizations. Because of this, the question arose about the essence of the concept of secularism. For example, many works of Ponkin (2003, 2004) are devoted to legal aspects of the notion of secularism. Scientists examine a large number of international and Russian documents that analyze the definitions of a secular state, a secular education, and reveal the legal mechanisms of interaction between the state and religion. The social factors determining the interaction of the state and religion are discussed in the study by Shkurova (2017). The socio-philosophical context of the problem, the analysis of the concepts of secularism and the religious component are revealed in their research by Tsyrendorzhieva and Bagaeva (2016). In their works, approaches to the essence of the concept of secularity (counter-religious, non-religious, religious) are analyzed, stages in the development of this phenomenon are highlighted, which are characterized in detail. Scientists conclude that there is no unity in terms of secularism, secular education in the scientific sphere, especially in social philosophy, cultural science, despite the fact that today, with the increasing role of religion in society, the expansion of secularization and desecularization, they require their understanding and new reading. The researchers also come to the conclusion about the need for equality of all religious organizations as the main requirement of secularism in a state with inter-confessional space in order to prevent conflict situations.

A detailed analysis of the etymology of the concepts of “secularity”, “the secular” was performed in the study by Bagaeva (2015).

She examines in detail multiple vocabulary articles and identifies two accents in the definition of the word “the secular”: 1) the secular and secularity as belonging to the highest class of society; 2) the secular as a quality or a characteristic of public institutions, where a secular orientation is expressed, meaning not the absence of religiosity, but rather belonging to the sphere of state power and worldly interests.

In their research, Russian scientists refer to their western colleagues — it helps them navigate in understanding of the phenomenon of secularism. A famous Russian researcher Ponkin (2003, p.147) draws attention to the statement of the French professor Baubérot (1997) in his work “Secularism: French exclusivity or universal value?”:

Secularism is a universal value. But with double condition. First, if it remains open to discussion, it will respect the unity of not only moral values, but also their diversity and thus, will be a principle that exists in the movement. Secondly, if it turns out to be capable of self-criticism, it will avoid self-sacralization and protect any form sociality. (p. 122)

Baubérot (1997) writes about three levels of secularism:

•“the first level of secularity” can be said when citizenship becomes independent of belonging to any religion. “Religion ceases to be a carrier of meaning that defines all aspects of a person’s life”, even if it still remains one of the mechanisms of socialization and the most important source of social morality. Politics affirms religious pluralism, although it is certainly far from absolute;

•the second “'level of secularis” means a deeper institutional separation, in particular, the separation of school and church; as secularism develops, religion becomes increasingly a private choice even in countries where, like England, where the official religion is preserved; also, secular customs and morals begin to dominate, and the principle of freedom of conscience is finally established;

•the third “level of secularism”, which can be observed today in Western countries, characterized by the disinstitutionalization of churches themselves, the crisis of moral socialization and the new formulation of the problem of identity associated with globalization, when not so much religious institutions as religion as such becomes a visible public resource (Baubérot, 1997, pp. 110-115).

Western scientists pay attention to two models of secularism that function in society: French and American. In the French model, secular society includes an obligatory separation of the state from religion, and the state has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of the church, but the church cannot interfere in the affairs of the state. For the American model, it is characterized by the idea of mutual exclusion when neither the state nor religion interferes in the affairs of each other, that is based on the thesis of religion as a private matter. B. Turner, a Canadian sociologist of religion, speaking of secularization, emphasizes the need to single out political secularization and social secularization. “The first refers specifically to public institutions and political entities, that is, regarding the historical separation of church and state, while the second refers to issues relating to values, culture and relevant relations” (Turner, 2009, p.25).

Foreign researchers, speaking of secularism, consider it in the framework of the process of desecularization. Desecularization is the opposite process of secularization, the beginning of which dates, according to scientists, dates back to early 90s, and can characterize the entry of the world into the post-secular age. Huntington (2008), on the basis of American experience, notes the “global rebirth of religion” in the last quarter of the 20th century, a process that was escalating in the 1980s and 1990s and continues at the beginning of the 21st century. Religion restored its importance both in private and in public life. Habermas (2006) writes about ongoing secularization in a post-secular society and suggests rethinking the process of secularization, carefully examining new meanings in it in the context of a different type of communicative strategies: “I would suggest to understand cultural and social secularization as a twofold educational process, forcing both educational traditions and traditions of religious teachings to comprehend the limits of each of these views” (p.3).

The study of the secular and the religious emphasizes the scientific discourse of the interaction of the secular and religion: they are considered in the broad context of the general problem of post-secularization, which today focuses on the processes of the return of religion to the public: politics, economy, culture, public space. For example, Australian sociologist Turner (2012) argues in his research that it is necessary to study religious processes in post-secular society on the basis of sociological and anthropological approaches, with due regard for current empirical research.

In the materials of van der Zweerde (2009), a Dutch Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, Radboud University (Nijmegen) a rigorous analysis of the essence of secularity is presented, a review of the conceptual field is given within the framework of the concepts of “secularity, secularization, secularism” and others.

According to Morales (n.d.), post-secularism is regarded as a new religious renaissance in the modern world.

Taylor (2007, 2011), in his works “What does secularism mean?” (2015) and “Secular Century” (2017) offers a historical perspective exploring secular characteristics in the modern era and reflects on what secularism can bring to modern democratic society. He believes that modern secularism has three main goals: freedom (meaning religion and beliefs) in the field of religion or basic beliefs of equality among people of different religions or worldviews; equal rights in society. The ultimate goal of secularism, as the scientist believes, is maintaining a relationship of harmony and politeness between supporters of different religions and trust (Taylor, 2011, 2007).

The works of Russian scientists, specialists in philosophy, cultural studies and sociology deal with a wide range of questions related to the problem of religious and secular, modern post-secular society with different approaches, ways and methods, as the phenomenon of secular and secularization processes in society are the subject of study of various sciences. Possible models of relationships between the state and religion (partnership, friendship, rapprochement of secular and religious). Analysis of the discourse on the question of secularization and desecularization in Russian science allows us to identify several leading areas in it: scientists are wondering if the post-secular era has come and what is the evidence for this (Morozov, 2007), what is the context of the sociocultural transformations of this phenomenon (Mikhajlova, 2015), what is the nature of religiosity in the post-Russian society and the world in general (Kyrlezhev, 2013), which may give an explanation for the current situation of historical and philosophical analysis of the phenomenon of secularism (Petrov, 2014). Jose Casanova's research deals with the systematization of modern approaches to the interpretation of the phenomenon of post-secularity, various meanings of the term are analyzed (self-closed or self-sufficient and exclusive secularity, secularistic), well-known world concepts of secularization are compared (Casanova, 2018).

It is obvious from the works of Russian scientists that the category of interaction is basic in modern theoretical thinking, it indicates the presence of simultaneity and bidirectionality in the process of influence of subjects, on each other, when they enter into joint activities to achieve common goals. Main problems in the interaction of secular and religious in society and education are seen by scientists and researchers in surviving attitudes of atheism, the secularized thinking of most people, insufficiently developed regulatory framework question, poorly developed cultural concept and the foundations of spiritual and moral education, lack of theoretical research in pedagogy in this area, shortcomings in coordinating the activities of federal and local education authorities in scientific, pedagogical and methodological organizational support of the interaction process of secular and religious components in education. Important question is to regulate the process of their interaction, its improvement and optimization based on the development of its theoretical foundations.


The analysis of literature and the scientific discourse on the problem of religious and the secular in the modern society carried out by representatives of various fields of knowledge, indicate the relevance of the problem, the importance of its understanding from a modern standpoint of desecularization. The question of post-secularism is becoming one of the most discussed among both religious and secular religious scholars and specialists in the broader scientific space, the public. “Post-secular” and “desecular” concepts and theories today need theoretical clarification, empirical evidence, a new look at them, because we pay attention to a new social reality that is being established.

It can be concluded that it is necessary to include religious studies in the secular education in Russian educational institutions in order to form religious competence among the young generation. In these matters, scientists prioritize a religious scientific approach to the study of religious problems in a multi-confessional society at any educational level (primary, secondary and higher education). Experts agree that ideological and confessional neutrality, systemic character, representativeness and objectivity are the principles on which the inclusion of the religious component in a secular education should be built.


Religion in contemporary scientific research is considered an integral part of culture; it can determine the ideological and value orientations in a given cultural and historical stage of development of society, influence the formation of social ethical ideals and behavioral norms. Religion often affects not only the political structure of society, but also economic activity; it manifests itself in art (the role of the aesthetic awakening of a man in determining his spiritual path was reasoned). Religion can unite different communities and groups in a state, and can divide them, undermining trust in each other, stirring up religious enmity and sowing discord that lie at the base of various kinds of radical movements or sects. The lack of systematic knowledge of the religions traditional for our country often leads to the formation of superficial and false ideas about religions themselves, the behavior of their representatives and the main modern religious processes taking place in the world.


The study was carried out with the financial support of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research No. 19-013-00625 A


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30 September 2019

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Gorbacheva, T. M., Gorbachev, A. L., Kopirovsky, A. M., Zianshina, R. I., Kostyukova, T. A., & Shaposhnikova*, T. D. (2019). The Problem Of Interaction Of Secular And Religious Components In Education. In S. K. Lo (Ed.), Education Environment for the Information Age, vol 69. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 789-795). Future Academy.