1st Edition

Crisis, Controversy and the Future of Religious Education

ISBN 9780367373382
Published December 5, 2019 by Routledge
236 Pages

USD $46.95

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Book Description

Crisis, Controversy and the Future of Religious Education sets out to provide a much-needed critical examination of recent writings that consider and respond to the crisis in religious education and more widely to a crisis in non-confessional forms of religious education, wherever practised.

The book is critical, wide-ranging and provocative, giving attention to a range of responses, some limited to the particular situation of religious education in England and some of wider application, for example, that of the role and significance of human rights and that of the relevance of religious studies and theology to religious education. It engages with a variety of positions and with recent influential reports that make recommendations on the future direction of religious education. Constructively, it defends both confessional and non-confessional religious education and endorses the existing right of parental withdrawal. Controversially, it concludes that the case for including non-religious worldviews in religious education, and for the introduction of a statutory, ‘objective’ national religious education curriculum for all schools, are both unconvincing on educational, philosophical and evidential grounds.

Timely and captivating, this book is a must-read for religious and theological educators, RE advisers, classroom teachers, student teachers and those interested in the field of religious education.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements  About the Author  Preface  Introduction  1 What is Wrong with Religious Education?  2 Democracy, Ideology and a New World Order  3 Religious Studies, Religious Education and the Return of Theology  4 Human Rights, Values and Religious Freedom  5 Worldviews, Justice and Inclusion  6 Humanism, Worldviews and Hermeneutics  7 Religious Education and a Statutory National Religious Education Curriculum  8 Compulsion, Conscience and the Right of Withdrawal  9 The Holy, the Idea of the Holy and Religious Education  10 Towards the Future  Bibliography  Index

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L. Philip Barnes is Emeritus Reader in Religious and Theological Education, King’s College London. He is the author of Education, Religion and Diversity: Developing a New Model of Religious Education (2014), also published by Routledge.


'This thorough critique of recent thinking about religious education in England and Wales is apposite and timely. Barnes’ analysis is not only carefully argued, as one would expect of a trained philosopher, but also engaged, passionate and practical.

He pays close attention to assumptions, argument and evidence in confronting what are often insufficiently self-critical – although very widely accepted – claims about what should constitute an educationally and ethically justified approach to RE in schools today. His criticisms are always interesting and often hit their targets.

No one should attempt to enter the debate over the "crisis in RE" without first facing the challenges posed in this well written, lively and thought-provoking book.'

- Professor Jeff Astley, Honorary Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion, and Professorial Fellow of St Chad's College, Durham University, UK; Visiting Professor of Religious and Spiritual Experience, Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, UK; Visiting Professor, York St John University, UK

'Barnes presents us with a timely, coherent and comprehensive critique of the present state of religious education. His book identifies the gaps to be addressed and is a very welcome contribution from a significant scholar in the field.'

- James Arthur, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Staffing and Professor of Education and Civic Engagement at the University of Birmingham, UK; Director of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues

'In the context of current radical challenges to religious education in public schools, Barnes reflects on the fundamental issues involved. He does so with such profundity and wide horizon that his analyses yield valuable insights and stimulations far beyond the UK situation.'

- Professor Manfred L. Pirner, holder of the chair of religious education and director of the Research Unit for Public Religion and Education (RUPRE) at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Germany.