A few days ago, George Conger took to this space to “bury” The New York Times for suddenly noticing the rise of Calvinism in unlikely Protestant venues, such as (Southern) Baptist churches.
Today, I’d like to congratulate the Times for, mostly, “getting it” when it comes to Germany’s public schools and religious instruction, in this case about Islam. Here’s the top of that report:
FRANKFURT – For the first time, German public schools are offering classes in Islam to primary school students using state-trained teachers and specially written textbooks, as officials try to better integrate the nation’s large Muslim minority and counter the growing influence of radical religious thinking.
The classes offered in Hesse State are part of a growing consensus that Germany, after decades of neglect, should do more to acknowledge and serve its Muslim population if it is to foster social harmony, overcome its aging demographics and head off a potential domestic security threat.
The need, many here say, is ever more urgent. According to German security officials and widespread reports in the German news media, this past semester at least two young Germans in Hesse — one thought to be just 16 — were killed in Syria after heeding the call for jihad and apparently being recruited by hard-line Salafist preachers in Frankfurt.
This is, in my opinion, Times reporting just about at its best: a crisp, clean lede, and a close-to-the-top explanation of what it means.
Granted, it’s a bit late, I would suggest, in terms of Germany’s government, since questions about assimilation of “guest workers” from predominantly Muslim nations, beginning with Turkey, has been an issue for decades. But better (very) late than never, one supposes.
There’s also a bit of explanation on how “religious instruction” has come to be in “public” (i.e., state-sponsored) schools, a concept that might be a tad jarring in the U.S. of A., where even bringing candy canes to class can get a grade-schooler in trouble. Read on.