Religious instruction in the post-truth world: a critique of Australia’s controversial religious instruction classes in public schools

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Abstract

Even though religious schools are common in Australia, many government schools provide religious instruction (RI) classes. Religious instruction involves students being segregated into faith based groups so as to receive instruction in the beliefs and practices of one religion. This practice also occurs in many other countries. In Australia, the provision of RI in government schools has become increasingly controversial, resulting in numerous government reviews, law and policy changes and frequent media coverage. In this paper, I examine Australia’s RI laws, policies and other relevant literature. I argue that RI aims to indoctrinate. Consequently, it may conflict with educational efforts to combat the sorts of thinking and problems that characterise the ‘post-truth world’ – that is, a world flooded with disinformation, conspiratorial thinking and science denialism, which fosters social divisiveness and undermines effective responses to serious global problems (e.g. COVID-19, climate change). A more educational alternative to teaching about religions is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-242
Number of pages15
JournalPolicy Futures in Education
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024

Keywords

  • critical thinking
  • indoctrination
  • post-truth
  • Religious instruction in government schools
  • religious education laws and policy
  • Education

    Bleazby, J., 2019, A Companion to Atheism and Philosophy. Oppy, G. (ed.). 1st ed. Hoboken NJ USA: Wiley-Blackwell, p. 383-395 13 p.

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