This article aims to open a new line of debate about religion in public schools by focusing on religious ideals. The article begins with an elucidation of the concept 'religious ideals' and an explanation of the notion of reasonable pluralism, in order to be able to explore the dangers and positive contributions of religious ideals and their pursuit on a liberal democratic society. We draw our examples of religious ideals from Christianity and Islam, because these religions have most adherents in Western liberal democracies that are the focus of this article. The fifth and most important section 'Reasonable pluralism and the inclusion of religious ideals in public secondary schools' provides three arguments for our claim that public schools should include religious ideals, namely that they are important to religious people, that they are conducive for the development of pupils into citizens of a liberal democracy, and that the flourishing of pupils as adults is advanced by encountering religious ideals. We also offer a more practical reason: religious ideals can more easily be included within public education than religious dogmas and rules. © The Author(s) 2008.