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Interreligious Orientations Among South African Youth

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image of Religion and Theology

In this article we investigate the interreligious orientations of a sample of 538 students from Standard 9 (Grade 11) who attended Anglican and Catholic schools in the Johannesburg/Pretoria region during 1995. In the first part of the article we describe the religious diversity of South Africa. This religious diversity was neglected in the past, but due to the establishment of the first democratically elected parliament and the adoption of a new constitution, we have entered a new situation in South Africa. Despite these changes, we still face the challenge to realise the democratic vision. Against this background, we direct our attention to two questions: What are the interreligious orientations of the South African youth, and how do they evaluate these interreligious orientations? Based on theological models of the meeting between religions we conceptualised four interreligious orientations: exclusivistic, inclusivistic, relativistic and dialogic. The relativistic orientation receives empirical support, but these students do not distinguish between exclusivistic and inclusivistic interreligious orientations. An unexpected finding is the distinction between subjective and objective dialogic orientations. These students are negative towards an absolutistic (exclusivistic and inclusivistic) orientation, and favour a relativistic interreligious orientation.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Practical Theology University of South Africa PO Box 392, Pretoria, 0003 Republic of South Africa


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