By The Hedgehog Review, Spring & Summer 2006 Volume Eight Numbers One & Two
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3 Turning to evidence of growth within mainstream institutions, all the schools of England and Wales are legally required to attend to the spiritual development of their pupils. ”4 Given that Ofsted visits schools to judge the quality of provisions for spiritual education, it is not surprising to find evidence that inner life spirituality is becoming more significant within the mainstream educational system. Many primary schools now provide yoga and tai chi for their pupils (and parents); some have special areas where pupils can go for creative, calming, and holistic therapies.
And where in these complex equations do we place the newly arrived populations, whether Christian or not? The answers must be tentative, but I will offer three; the last takes the form of a cautious prediction about the future of religion in Europe. There are effectively two religious economies in Europe, which run alongside each other. The first is an incipient market, which is emerging among the churchgoing minorities of most, if not all, European societies, and in which voluntary membership is becoming the norm, de facto if not de jure.
31 T he H edgehog R eview / S pring & S U mmer 0 6 One further point is significant and reflects a shift that is taking place right across Europe. The growing presence of other faith communities in general, and of the Muslim population in particular, is challenging some deeply held European assumptions. The notion that faith is a private matter and should, therefore, be proscribed from public life—notably from the state and from the education system—is widespread in Europe (not only in France).