New research on diversity and impact of religious belief in 21st-century Ireland
2019-08-01 14:17:42 -


Researchers conducting a study on adult religious education and faith development in Ireland recently carried out an online survey on adults aged 18 and above, of different backgrounds, faiths and world views.

The project is aimed at learning from and contributing to adult religious education across the diversity of “contexts, faiths and belief systems in 21st-century Ireland”, the researchers said: “It will be not just research and theory, but real practical input and, hopefully, impact.”

While the result of the survey is yet to be reviewed, Dr Bernadette Sweetman and Dr Gareth Byrne — who are lead researchers at the Mater Dei Centre for Catholic Education at Dublin City University — will collaborate over the next three years with various adults groups in the country to enhance public awareness of the great work which is already going on in some parishes. 

“Their work would also help to set up new opportunities for adults to explore,” the Mater Dei Centre says.
The researchers are of the view that appreciating “a faith or world view, and feeling free to do so, is amongst the biggest challenges facing adults today. If you hold a belief, you are often called upon to justify it. But are we equipped with the insight and language to explore and explain ourselves?”

Individuals, they say, should be in a better position to do so, especially for their own sake and also to avoid mistakes and resultant disagreement in the public sphere. 

However, this is not often the case in reality, and many people do not get the opportunity to revisit the ideas and beliefs they had while young, leaving them in confusion.

“It is lamentable that the dominant public opinion is that a religious person is somehow less intelligent than a non–religious person; that a person of faith is not ‘informed and rational’; that to have a faith is infantile and based on superstition,” the researchers claim.

Dr Sweetman adds: “The lack of opportunities for adults to explore religion and faith is one reason for misunderstanding between people of different perspectives. Not everyone grew up in a faith, but a substantial proportion of us did.”

The researchers say that everyone has the right to live in line with their values, beliefs as well as ethical code, and to have the right “to reflect on and assess the relevance of such beliefs in their present day lives”.

Compiled by Chinedu Onyejelem

Christian Corner is supported by The Redeemed Christian Church of God Ireland

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