The Politics of Religious Literacy

Education and Emotion in a Secular Age


Religious Literacy has become a popular concept for navigating religious diversity in public life. Spanning classrooms to boardrooms, The Politics of Religious Literacy challenges commonly held understandings of religious literacy as an inclusive framework for engaging with religion in modern, multifaith democracies. As the first book to rethink religious literacy from the perspective of affect theory and secularism studies, this new approach calls for a constructive reconsideration focused on the often-overlooked feelings and practices that inform our questionably secular age. This study offers fresh insights into the changing dynamics of religion and secularism in the public sphere.

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Justine Esta Ellis, DPhil (2020), University of Oxford, is an Academic Visitor at the University of Oxford. Previously, she was an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) postdoctoral Leading Edge Fellow. She has published articles on religion and policy in journals, including The Journal of Law, Culture and the Humanities and Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts and Contemporary Worlds.
Introduction: Defining the “Religious” in Religious Literacy
  From Secularization to the Secular Body
  Religious Literacy in Context
  Looking Ahead

1 The Rise of Religious Literacy
 1 Values
 2 Content Knowledge
 3 Skills
 4 Critical Responses
 5 Conclusion

2 Public Sphere, Private Choice: Religious Literacy and Public Reason
 1 Secularity 3 and Religious Voluntarism
 2 Taking Religion Seriously
 3 Inclusion in the Public Sphere
 4 The Standard of Democratic Discourse
 5 Conclusion

3 Religious Literacy and Its Limits: Liberalism, Affect, and Pedagogy
 1 “In the Service of Democracy”: Secularity, Civics, and Liberal Education
 2 “From Head to Heart”: Affect, Autonomy, and the Materialist Shift
 3 “The Integrity of the Teacher”: Pedagogy, Neutrality, and Secular Subjectivity
 4 Conclusion

4 Tolerance and Its Discontents: Managing Offense in Religious Literacy Discourse
 1 “Allergic to Controversy”: Tolerance, Civility, and Religious Offence in Public Schools
 2 “A Crisis of Civility”: Critical Reconsiderations of Tolerance and Civil Discourse
 3 “Vigorous-Yet-Respectful Critique”: Religious Literacy’s Reframing of Tolerance Discourse
 4 The Limits of the Law: Does Religious Literacy Step in Where the Law Ends?
 5 “Respect Your Neighbor”: Agonistic Respect, Deep Equality, and the Self-Regulation Trap
 6 Conclusion

5 The “Post-compliance” Moment: Religious Literacy in the Workplace
 1 Ernst & Young ( EY ) – Coexist House
 2 The Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding
 3 The “Post-compliance” Moment
 4 Conclusion

6 “Labels Can Be a Barrier”: Religious Literacy and the Question of Category
 1 “Religion is Not a Native Category”: Critical Religion and World Religions
 2 Nonreligion as the New Frontier of Interreligious Dialogue and the Seeming Solution of Worldviews
 3 Conclusion

Conclusion: Reforming Religious Literacy
  In Search of the Secular Student Body
  Classroom Critiques
  Teaching the Secular
  Affective Pedagogies
  Liberal Habits

This book is intended for readers interested in today’s changing religious and secular formations. It aims to reach audiences in fields such as religious studies, secular studies, affect theory, educational studies, public policy, political theology, and public theology.
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