Religious Freedom and Religious Education in Protestant Mission School in Recent Korea: with Special Reference to Proselytism

한국 개신교사학의 종교교육 공간에 나타난 종교자유 논쟁: 개종주의와의 관련을 중심으로

  • Received : 2015.12.31
  • Accepted : 2016.02.02
  • Published : 2016.03.31


This paper aims at exploring the characteristics and meanings of religious freedom controversy surrounding religious education, with special reference to proselytism, in protestant mission school in recent Korea. Most of protestant mission schools have been providing students compulsory religion class and chapel service in the name of religious education. According to the school authorities, religious education should be provided for the realization of founding philosophy, and they say that mission school has the right to religious education. On the contrary, many non-christian students argue that their religious liberty is seriously violated by required religious education especially compulsory chapel worship. So serious conflicts broke between mission school authorities and students. Supreme Court decided that Soongsil University has the right to maintain compulsory chapel service, ruling that Daegwang High School should not maintain required chapel worship. It seems that Supreme Court gave different decisions to high school and university respectively, considering the differences between high school and university in application for admission to a school, students' critical consciousness, school's autonomous rights, etc. However, these precedents are being challenged by many peoples and groups. There are three agents which are involved in religious freedom controversy in mission school. The first are mission school authorities supported by religious groups, the second government supported by political parties, and the third mission school students guided by NGO. Among them protestant groups are playing the major role in making religious freedom problems in mission school. Protestant groups try to convert mission school students to protestantism by compulsory chapel service and religion class. Such a protestant proselytism becomes a cause of oppressing students' human rights and religious liberty. In this situation government has a responsibility to protect the students' rights to religious freedom. But government seldom impose sanctions on the protestant mission schools' compulsory programs. The reason why government does not restrict mission school's unlawful religious education is because protestant groups have strong influence in voting. Eventually civil movements organizations involved in religious freedom controversy for the sake of students's human rights. In conclusion, the assailment is protestant proselytism, the accessory is government, the victim is students in the religious education in mission school in recent Korea.