Interfaith Youth in Australia: A Critical Reflection on Religious Diversity, Literacy, and Identity

in The Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity
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Abstract

Interfaith youth initiatives and educational programs about diverse religions in schools began to be viewed as potential social cohesion strategies, and important tools in countering extremism, following the July 2005 London bombings when concerns about the radicalisation of Muslim youth and fears of home-grown terrorism became prevalent in many so-called Western societies. The global interfaith movement had already grown significantly in the usA, the uk and Australia since September 11, 2001, given the movement’s longstanding commitment to promoting positive interreligious relations, countering prejudices and addressing global risks and injustices. This chapter presents the findings of a study of young people participating in InterAction, an Australian interfaith youth movement founded in 2009, and is focused on their religious identities and views on religion and education. The data gathered indicates that interreligious youth initiatives and education about worldviews and religions can play a role in advancing interreligious understanding, and social inclusion in religiously diverse societies. It also demonstrates that young people’s complex lived experiences of religious diversity, and construction of religious identity, need to be considered in the development of such programs and in contemporary critical research on religious diversity.

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