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Religion and Belief LiteracyReconnecting a Chain of Learning$
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Adam Dinham

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781447344636

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447344636.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM POLICY PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.policypress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Policy Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PPSO for personal use.date: 16 May 2022

The broken chain of learning: the crisis of religion and belief literacy and its origins

The broken chain of learning: the crisis of religion and belief literacy and its origins

(p.9) 1 The broken chain of learning: the crisis of religion and belief literacy and its origins
Religion and Belief Literacy

Adam Dinham

Alp Arat

Martha Shaw

Policy Press

This chapter discusses the loss of religion and belief literacy, which it locates in two public spheres: welfare and education. The period before the loss of religion and belief literacy in Britain and the West was, by its very nature, almost entirely Christian. Although there was a degree of plurality, and an awareness of some other religions, these were largely treated as essentially exotic. Yet, at the very moment that people stopped paying (much) attention to religion and belief, they entered a period of dramatic change. This has meant massive declines in Christianity, increases in other world religions, a huge growth in atheism and non-religion, and a shift towards informal and revival forms of religion and belief, especially associated with varying ideas of spirituality. The resulting challenges of religion and belief literacy are rooted here in the post-war period, in which the deliberate dilution of religious socialisation post-1945 has been followed by the accidental invisibility of religious social action and its disconcerting re-emergence after 1980, and then a striking renewal of religion and belief as a public sphere issue around the turn of the century, and especially after 9/11. What emerges is a tension between a loss of public religion and belief and its subsequent re-emergence after a prolonged period in which it was not really talked about.

Keywords:   religion, belief literacy, welfare, education, Britain, Christianity, belief, religious socialisation, religious social action, public religion

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