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How far can religion impact on education?  And what is the role education plays on religion?

Religion can be defined as a system of norms and values that are based on the belief of a superhuman order which people see as a spiritual guide, having practical implications on their everyday practices and behaviors. Education, leads to change, builds character and moral values by teaching individuals to think outside of the family values and visions, outside of what they had been in contact with since their birth.

Similarly, to education, religion plays a very important role in the process of socialization. Religion, in the most diverse forms, has been found in all human societies since the very first appearances of human societies and wars and social conflicts recurrently result from religious disputes.

Globalization brings diversity, and diversity brings different cultures, values and religions coexisting together in the same territory, and so States have the greater challenge of safeguarding a peaceful cohesion between them.

However, it is evident that a peaceful coexistence on the various religious matters is not easy to achieve. In the recent years, we have been witnessing a deterioration of the relation between religions as a direct consequence of the intensification of terrorist attacks and the link that people tend to make when associating terrorism to the Islamic religion.

The increase of the number of terrorist attacks in the Western Societies led to the necessity for teachers, church, and the media to educate the people about Islam and prevent the of stereotyping and avoid the promotion of hate crimes and negative acts towards Muslims.

It is intriguing to see how the behavior of single isolated individuals prejudices the perception of the whole religion before the rest of the world. It causes great damage on the religion’s reputation, and on the safety of its believers and followers. These situations have forced some States to apply more extreme measures, justifiable as safety measures, to avoid further attacks that end up jeopardizing the core values and beliefs of the religions directly linked to the attacks.

What causes the constant conflict between religions? It all comes down to one thing: interpretation. When thinking about it, in reality there are much more similarities between religions, than differences. But unfortunately, there is a tendency to give more notice to the differences, than what actually unifies them, yielding extremist approaches on this topic.

No matter what, all religions share the same fundamental principles of the Value of Human Life, where people are essentially equal and connected – not killing one another; good and responsible to God, themselves, and their fellow people. These are direct consequences of what the values transmited by the Religion to their believers are.

Whenever religion is invoked as the cause for terrorist attacks, it is simply a mere excuse to what the actual real motivations behind those really are: economic interests and politic control, which are in no way related to the purpose of religion. In these situations, the individuals committing the attacks end up instrumentalizing religious matters for the achievement of other interests.

There is a need to fight extremisms, so that the core fundamental values, common to all religions and at the base of society, are not lost. And it is precisely here where the religion and education are complementary to one another. Religion provides the fundamental values, beliefs and practices on which you should guide your life in society. Education, helps the interpretation of it, providing a wider vision and diversifying your knowledge with the contact with the different realities, and it is revealed as essential to not let extremism get the best of the religions and protect the fundamental values in Society, by teaching to respect the differences.

President of Les Jeunes du Monde Unis