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date: 18 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the history, purpose, and aims of religious education in the United States, defined as devotional-based education that promotes religious identity formation. The chapter first differentiates between secular education and religious education in the United States, then considers how issues of theology, social culture, expression of religious freedom, civil rights, personal identity, technology, and demographic shifts shape religious identity formation. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how rituals within religious traditions connect the aspirations of a tradition with instructional practices. It examines how religious education, from a devotional perspective, teaches people how to practice a religious way of life and informs their beliefs, behaviors, and acts of belonging. Religious education, the author describes, is an act of learning by which children, youth, and adults are moved toward living the ultimate values of a community of faith. While the nature of that journey varies widely depending on the aims of a particular religious group, religious education is primarily rooted in the hope that the learner can transcend a particular human socialization in order to achieve an aim that is important to their religious tradition.

Keywords: religious education, theological education, teaching for social change, ritual, homeschooling, technology and religion, multicultural religious education, history, faith formation

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