How does religious knowledge arise

Bamberg course "Understanding Religions" Against religious dyslexia

What is "Religious Literacy"?

The concept of "Religious Literacy" comes from the USA and has been discussed there for some time. Mostly it is translated as "religious literacy". The new Bamberg master’s course has the English term in its title and is called "Understanding Religions / Religious Literacy".

It is about "an ability to read religion," says Susanne Talabardon, professor of Jewish studies at the University of Bamberg. This "Religious Literacy" is a lifelong process because one is constantly confronted with new things in the course of life.

Jürgen Bründl, professor of fundamental theology and dogmatics at the University of Bamberg, describes "Religious Literacy" as "fundamental competence building in matters of religion". This is necessary today because people come into contact with many different religions.

What is "Religious Dyslexia"?

"Religious dyslexia" - in English "Religious Illiteracy" - describes the phenomenon that people have little or little knowledge about religions - about other religions as little as about their own religion, if they feel they belong to a religion. At the same time, however, the term dyslexia is also misleading, says Susanne Talabardon, because today it is not just about knowing one's own religion, i.e. being religiously literate. Rather, what is needed is "religious multilingualism", that is, knowledge of the pluralism of the religious present.

How does "religious dyslexia" develop?

Today it is no longer a matter of course that one grows up in a religious tradition, says Jürgen Bründl: "We live in a time of marked breaks in tradition." In addition, people today, unlike in the past, come into contact with many different religions through migration and globalization. However, many people have little knowledge of most of these religions and therefore do not know how to behave when dealing with members of other religions.

At the same time, however, religious socialization could also contribute to "religious dyslexia", says Susanne Talabardon: "Sometimes growing up naturally in certain Christian milieus also leads to operational blindness to other religious traditions." People who did not grow up in religious traditions are sometimes more attentive to perceiving foreign traditions than people who grow up within religious traditions.

Why can "religious dyslexia" become a problem?

The Bamberg course is not about "bringing religions back into play", emphasizes Jürgen Bründl. But religions would continue to shape secular society in parts. Therefore, basic knowledge of religion is required "in order to deal with one another in a peaceful, coexistent manner without beating your head. Because the plurality of religions experienced in everyday life can create problems, that is a fact."

Religion binds people more strongly than many other social phenomena, says Susanne Talabardon. Therefore, dealing with religion is important in order to be able to accept "the other in his otherness".