Coming Out Religiously

Religion, the Public Sphere, and Religious
Identity Formation

Annual Meeting of the Religious Education Association
An Association of Professors, Practitioners, and Researchers in Religious Education

November 8-10, 2013
Westin Waltham Boston


In contrast to developments in the 1960s and ‘70s, religious growth has been more persistent and on a larger global scale than was expected. The dramatic events of ‘9/11’ have given an extra impetus to the debate on the place and role of religion in the public sphere, nationally and globally.

These debates have an immediate impact on the view of the position, the role, as well as
the function of religious and/or worldview education in state and denominational schools.

  • Should religious education be banned from or neglected in public schools, or should religion and worldview become part of the core curriculum of such schools?
  • Should the state stop financing denominational schools because religious education is a private matter? Here the relation of state and church, as well as the relation of religion and state is at the fore.
  • 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 its children and young people with an eye on their participation in social and public spaces?

These are the pressing questions in the changed national and global contexts that need to be addressed by religious educators.

The Religious Education Association welcomes proposals for research papers, colloquia, and workshops that address these issues as well as the following additional research and pedagogical questions:

  • Should each government, within its particular national context, take the political-pedagogical responsibility to stimulate religious/worldview identity formation of students in elementary and secondary schools?
  • What role do media (radio, TV, newspapers), political parties, associations and religious and worldview communities play in these debates?
  • Which persons, groups, associations and communities are specifically excluded when religion is privatized?
  • What can we learn from historical case studies?
  • Is there a link between particular stances in these debates and certain pedagogies? How do we evaluate this?
  • What examples of ‘good practice’ could we as an Association provide as a fruitful contribution to these debates?

Guidelines for submitting proposals can be found on the REA website at