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Religious education in a post-secular and post-Christian context

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In 1999, a new curriculum for Roman-Catholic religious education was introduced in Flemish primary and secondary schools, taking into account both the growing de-Christianisation and religious pluralisation of pupils in the classroom. Recently, this new curriculum has been subjected to diverging criticisms: first it is considered still too Christian, and therefore not able to appropriately deal with religious plurality, and, second, quite contrary to the first criticism, because it deals too much with religious plurality the curriculum is criticised for being no longer sufficiently Christian. In view of this double criticism, in this contribution I first shed some light on the analysis of the current post-Christian and post-secular religious situation, upon which the Religious Education (RE) curriculum is based – i.e. an analysis in terms of detraditionalisation and pluralisation (rather than secularisation). Afterwards I evaluate whether the fundamental goals, which were set 10 years ago, are still adequate to this analysis. In order to do so, I enquire how these goals relate to the double critique: on the one hand, that Roman Catholic RE is no longer an adequate way to prepare pupils for the post-Christian and post-secular society, because they are still too Christian, and, on the other, that they are not Christian enough. In doing so I will accentuate the integral nature of these goals, taking the present religious plurality as a dynamic given which opens up new opportunities for a more reflexive identity construction, while at the same time providing new space to bear witness to the Christian offer of meaning. I conclude with a short reference to the preconditions which need to be fulfilled in order to facilitate the implementation of such RE programme.
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Keywords: detraditionalisation; pluralisation; post-Christian; post-secular; religious education

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven, Belgium

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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