Religious literacy

June 17, 2010

In view of the concern that Ofsted recently expressed about the standard of some schools' teaching of Christianity, we would like to draw attention to a further dimension to the problem: namely, such a situation deprives students, whatever their religious background or interests, of the basic knowledge needed to appreciate and study humanities subjects involving Western history, art and literature.

The Christianity and Culture initiative was set up by academics from several disciplines to address this problem - not with the aim of evangelising, but rather educating students in religious literacy. For the past 10 years, it has produced academic books and CDs and promoted discussion in schools and higher education through conferences and articles.

The debate prompted by Ofsted now needs to address this question: in a largely secular and multicultural Britain, how can we best give students understanding of the religious-cultural discourses and assumptions found in English literature, in historical crises such as the Reformation and the Civil War, and the architecture of cathedrals and parish churches?

Mark Ormrod, University of York, Helen Phillips, Cardiff University, Miri Rubin, Queen Mary, University of London, Board members, Christianity and Culture,

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