2013 REA Annual Meeting

Coming Out Religiously
Religion, the Public Sphere, and Religious Identity Formation

During the last decade great thinkers like Jürgen Habermas have addressed the importance of religion in the public sphere. In liberal-democratic societies, according to Habermas, mutual learning processes and dialogue between religious and secular citizens should flourish. The state needs to take a positive stance towards the contributions of religious communities and persons in the public domain because they can provide secular society with important and necessary sources for attributing and creating meaning.

The philosopher Charles Taylor has shown that in most western democratic societies, belief in God is understood to be just one option among others, and it is usually not the easiest one to embrace. That most people are looking and longing for meaning in life is a characteristic of our secular age, Taylor says. Their pilgrimage should be taken seriously. It is important to encourage them to pursue their search to the end and to facilitate their journey, while also taking into account the plurality of spiritual choices people make.

What is the impact of these views on the position and function of religious/worldview education in public and private schools? Should religious education be banned from or neglected in public schools, or should religion and worldview be included in the core curriculum? Should the state deny funds to religiously affiliated schools because religious education is a private matter? Here the relation of state and religion is at stake. Should all schools recognize that citizenship education necessarily includes teaching about and from an approach that aims at the religious/worldview identity formation of the students? In what way do religious communities foster the identity formation of their children and young people with an eye on their participation in social and public spaces?

These are the pressing questions in the new national and global contexts that urgently need to be addressed by religious educators and related professionals. Our 2013 theme, “Religion, the Public Sphere, and Religious Identity Formation,” can bring together participants working in different domains of religious and worldview education as educators, politicians, academics, community religious leaders, and other stakeholders from all over the world.

We will explore these complex, highly relevant issues during our time together in Boston.

Please join us!

November 8-10             Boston, Massachusetts

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Are You a Member?

The Religious Education Association: an Association of Professors, Practitioners, and Researchers in Religious Education is an incorporation of the venerable 100 year old Religious Education Association (REA), who have gathered semi-annually, published and taught religious education during this past century, and the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education (APRRE), a group of professors, scholars and researchers who for the past 30 years have gathered annually as a guild of scholars building and sharing a body of theory and research.

REA dues are determined with a sliding scale based on income. As a benefit of membership, you will receive up to five issues of Religious Education, the official journal of REA. Your 2013 membership is valid from January 1, through December 31, Regardless of when you renew your membership, all memberships expire on December 31, each year. Join REA Online and enjoy the full benefits of the REA.