Mapping the Moral Assumptions of Multi-Faith Religious Education

British Journal of Religious Education:253-262 (2018)
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When Religious Education (RE) in England and Wales transitioned from Christian confessionalism to a multi-faith approach in the latter half of the twentieth century, the subject’s moral aims were reasserted. In this article, we explore the moral assumptions of this transformation and map some of their connections to other theological and ethical ideas. Inspired by Deleuze and Guattari’s metaphor of a rhizome, we make two novel contributions to scholarship in this regard. First, through some salient examples we show the connections between the moral aims of multi-faith RE and the assumptions of Kantian moral religion. The second contribution, building on this analysis, identifies three moral justifications of multi-faith RE: universalist (founded on assumptions of moral universals across religions), vicarious (the support of a religious worldview by using other religions’ moral teachings) and instrumentalist (a moral justification based on the supposed extrinsic benefits of studying religions). We then go onto consider how these assumptions may differ from the moral commitments of the religions they appropriate, suggesting they disrupt and recombine theocentric concepts into pedagogic ones.

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