Multireligious contexts are considered a routine challenge for growing children today, yet very little is known empirically about how children deal with religious differences. Studies by developmentalists like David Elkind, fifty years ago, have not been followed up and more recent research on young children and religion has tended to centre on other questions. The article that follows is based on a study of 140 children (mean age 4.9 years) interviewed in the context of kindergartens in Germany. After describing their research procedures, the authors present results regarding knowledge, experience, attitudes, and linguistic skills in the context of different religions. Throughout the article, special emphasis is laid on the issue of God, or different Gods, as perceived by the children. The authors conclude by suggesting a number of educational consequences.
Given the increasingly diverse and multi-religious character of contemporary societies in Europe and beyond, interreligious education has come to attract more and more interest. This is especially true for the field of religious education. This article comes from a research project that has two aspects as its focus. The first aspect refers to the question of whether approaches to interreligious education really are effective. The other aspect concerns what is called the meaning of interreligious abilities or competence for professional qualification. The process of training future caregivers includes both of these aspects. Moreover, the project entailed an attempt to test a number of religious-education teaching units empirically for their effects on the trainees. In this article, an attempt is made to shed light on the structure of interreligious competence. The main focus is on finding a general factor of interreligious competence at the heart of more specific facets of competence.
This article first discusses the question of how empirical research can contribute to the ongoing discussions concerning the future of the church. Among others, German research on church membership is used as a case study for gaining insights into the interplay between theoretical assumptions, empirical research and designing strategies for church development. The need for comparisons over time, for longitudinal studies and the identification of long-term predictors is discussed. Against this background, recent research on confirmation work in Germany and Europe is taken up as an example. The article draws on data from a European study on confirmation work with a longitudinal research approach. The results show that confirmation work, as one of the major educational programs of the Protestant Church, can influence adolescents’ views of Christian faith and the church. Predictors for future commitment to the church in terms of believing, belonging and volunteerism are not only dependent on religious socialization in childhood but also on experiences and activities during confirmation time in adolescence.