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Religion; Education; Law; Arendt; Neutrality; Toleration


Education – and particularly public education – has become a crucible for the relationship between state and religious diversity, a principal site for contemporary debates about the meaning of secularism and the management of religious difference. This is so across a variety of national traditions, and despite wide differences in the historical and “emotional inheritances” surrounding the configuration of law, politics, and religion. Through an exploration of Hannah Arendt’s thought about responsibility and freedom in education, this article works towards a better understanding of why education is such a crucial and fraught field in the modern encounter between religion and law. The article turns to the recent jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Canada to draw out the implications of these ideas, arriving ultimately at a claim about the nature and limits of the concept of state neutrality.