Religious Influence in Policy-Making: a Case of Sexual Education in Lithuania

Auguste Nalivaike

Abstract


The Lithuanian Ministry of Education adopted the sexual education and preparation  for a family life policy in 2016. Policy formulation stage became the centre of the conflict between secular reproductive health and sex education activists and religious civil society organizations as well as Lithuanian Catholic Church which exerts its informal political power and utilizes institutional opportunity structures in various stages of policy-making. These groups clashed not only in the chambers of the Lithuanian Parliament but also in the media. Competing discourses were created and maintained in various public spaces. Non-governmental human rights organizations have tried to counter the discourse of oppositional conservative and religious political actors and actively participated in policy formulation. However, these attempts did not prevent the Ministry of Education from adopting a family and abstinence-oriented sex education, which favours specific religious values. This paper seeks to understand religious influence in sexual education policy formation in Lithuania. I utilize news media articles and anonymous in-depth interviews with various relevant actors involved. This case study also enriches theoretical literature on informal institutions, and institutional opportunity structures concerning religious actors influence morality policy-making.

Keywords


religion qualitative; sexual education; influence; policy-making

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"Public Policy and Administration" ISSN online 2029-2872 / ISSN print 1648-2603