Resources for Religious Literacy

This page offers resources to foster an individual’s religious literacy. The bottom half offers resources that can be quickly shared with students. 

Religious literacy is the ability to:

  1. Know the basic tenets of the major world religions;
  2. Discern the complexities within and across religions, and that they are internally and externally diverse;
  3. Critically understand the role of religion in social, political, and economic contexts in history and today; and,
  4. Understand the cultural and spiritual meaning of religion and belief for people (including religious and non-religious beliefs) in order to foster personal reflection, inquiry, and development for citizenship.

On this basis, religious literacy is a form of citizenship education that develops the attitude, skills, and knowledge students need to recognize and respect the religious and non-religious other (Jackson, 1997, 2004; Miedema, 2014; Moore, 2007; Prothero, 2007). A clear summary of religious literacy as a form of citizenship education is shared here.

rlSeveral valuable and informative resources are available to help one become more religiously literate.  Below is an ongoing accumulation of a few exemplary resources I have found for educators and the general public.

Free and for the general public:

For educators:

In-person workshops and seminars for teachers’ pedagogical needs:

I also encourage you to search for emerging religious literacy programs for educators in your local communities (such as the one coordinated by Chris Murray in Maryland in June 2016).

Online resources for teachers’ pedagogical needs:

Books for teachers’ pedagogical needs:

In addition to these resources, I have compiled a document titled “Tips for creating a religiously inclusive classroom” that can be downloaded here.  The tips include:

 


Joshi’s (2007) five tips for educators:

  1. Know your own students. There are a lot of religions in the world. Start with the ones present in your classroom.
  2. Learn our ABCDs. We don’t need to be theologians, but we can at least learn the:
    a. Architecture: Know what the house of worship is called, like mandir (Hindu), masjid or mosque (Muslim), and gurdwara (Sikh).
    b. Books: Know the name(s) of the religion’s holy text(s).
    c. Cities: Know the names and locations of the religion’s holiest cities, like Amritsar (Sikhism), Mecca and Medina (Islam), and Varanasi/Benares (Hinduism).
    d. Days: Know the names and meanings of the religion’s major holidays, like Diwali and Holi (Hinduism), Ramadan and Eid ul’ Fitr (Islam), and Vaisaki (Sikhism).
  3. Recognize religion as part of students’ social identities. Understand how this makes religion especially salient for some students, and how the family’s religion may be important even to students who don’t see themselves as “religious.”
  4. Avoid the urge to “Christianize” religions and holidays. e.g., saying “Ramadan is like Lent” or “Janmastami is like Christmas.”
  5. Include religion in our curricula whenever it’s appropriate. Discuss how different religions deal with the concept at hand.

 

In a class that teaches religious literacy today, it is almost impossible to avoid the discussion of religious extremism. Here are some published resources to support you in those discussions:

 

Lastly, Abdou and I encourage a teaching of religious literacy that informs students about the cultural influences and exchanges that existed between belief systems throughout history. In doing so, students can foster an understanding and respect for different worldviews. To obtain a free copy of the article, please click: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/UGdjjtyAzUuqiUYV9t4C/full. The first 50 views from this link are free.

chart-of-monotheism-polytheism

(To reference the image, please refer to: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15210960.2016.1263961)

Quick resources that can be shared with students:

Influential role of religion in social, economic, and culture spheres throughout history:

The diversity within and across religions and religiously unaffiliated beliefs:

Science and religion: 

Interfaith dialogue: 

Media literacy and religious literacy:

Religious extremism: 

  • Extreme Dialogue offers testimonial videos from individuals who were previously an extremist and lesson plans on how to discuss it in class.