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The impact of religious diversity and revitalization on inter-religious education for citizenship and human rights
chapterposted on 2010-01-01, 00:00 authored by G Bouma, R Ling, Anna HalafoffAnna Halafoff
The unanticipated rise of religious diversity and the re-entry of religion to the public sphere have radically increased the need and demand for education about religions – how they contribute to social and cultural capital – and about the management of religious diversity. The global movement of people and cultures has brought religious diversity to nearly every major city. With diversity has come a renewed interest in the religious identity of others and how to incorporate religious diversity in ways that produce social cohesion. Religious diversity has also raised interest in a values discourse where once atheistic secularity prevailed, made faith-based social and health service delivery both more appealing to governments and more difficult to deliver, and has challenged societies to accommodate a wider range of religious needs and lifestyles. Policies designed to promote social justice and peace have little chance of success without taking seriously the religious dimensions to the issues involved. This context makes clear the need for opportunities to learn about the religions in a society at all levels of education – opportunities that include direct experience of the ‘other’, curricula that appreciate the worlds of faith, spirituality and religion rather than demeaning them, education that provides both historical depth and local reality. Some of this education will be in school, some in remedial work required for a generation or two of leaders who have been raised in ignorance of religion, or trained to despise it.