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Religious (self-)expression — an exclusive trait of professional Christians?

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image of Journal of Empirical Theology

Though religion is traditionally seen as a focus of personal orientation, and Religious Education classes aim to be informative as well as to assist in the students' search for meaning, the personal relevance of faith can no longer be assumed. This article poses the question: to whom do students ascribe religious thought patterns and why? The data are derived from an empirical field study in Catholic religious education classes at state-run schools in Germany. During a four-lesson sequence, students (N=186) were confronted with the conflicts between two historical figures. It is hypothesised that recognition of the religiousness of the person in the biographical sketch, and the students' own religious backgrounds, influence the use of religious terms in their journal entries. Findings show that the use of religious terms depends not only on whether students have had a religious upbringing but also on whether they view the person in question as a professional Christian or not. Consequences for religious education are discussed.

Affiliations: 1: University of Würzburg, Germany


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