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Swedish schools teach that faith is outmoded and irrational

Swedish schools teach that faith is outmoded and irrational

Swedish researcher Karin Kittelmann Flensner, above, is calling for a better approach to religious studies after she found that faith in schools is portrayed as ‘incompatible with being a modern, rational and independently thinking human being’.

According to this report, University of Gothenburg’s Flenser said in a doctoral thesis that, in Swedish classrooms, religion is often associated with an obsolete time when people just didn’t know better – as if religion once served a purpose but there is no need for it in the modern world.

She found that, in contrast, a non-religious, atheistic position is articulated as a neutral and unbiased approach to religion.

I had not expected this discourse to be so strong in all the studied classrooms.

Flensner’s study is based on observations of religious education in three Swedish public upper-secondary schools during the school year of 2011-2012. She followed 13 teachers who taught in 24 different student groups.

Sweden is often described as the world’s most secularised country, and Flensner found that the country’s secular attitudes were easily discernible and dominated the talk about religion and worldviews.

Students and teachers also talked about Sweden as being a Christian country. However, this view did not refer to religious faith but rather to the Swedish tradition and history, and the point of the discussion was often to define a “we” in relation to a “them”.

In the classrooms, “the others” became synonymous with religious people in general and Muslims in particular.

The national syllabus of Religious Education emphasises the importance of understanding and respecting people with different views and backgrounds, but the results of her study suggest that these aims may be difficult to reach if people belonging to various religious traditions are described as unintelligent and deceived, which was often the case.

She claims that it also makes it difficult to prepare the students for a life in a pluralistic society.

Said Flensner:

If teachers can be made aware of how religion and people with religious faith are talked about in their classrooms, I believe they can contribute to a learning environment that better promotes understanding and respect between different positions.

We live in a pluralistic society, and I believe the school and Religious Education can play a key role in promoting positive development.

20 responses to “Swedish schools teach that faith is outmoded and irrational”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    Swedish researcher Karin Kittelmann Flensner is calling for a better approach to religious studies after she found that faith in schools is portrayed as ‘incompatible with being a modern, rational and independently thinking human being’.

    Sounds to me like the Swedes already have a perfect approach to religious studies. I only wish we had that kind of enlightened thinking here in the UK.

  2. sailor1031 says:

    One wonders how the swedish approach is going to work with their approach to multiculturalism and immigration.

  3. Broga says:

    While the Swedish approach is to move into a modern, rational world we in the UK, with the support of the BBC and government, are determined to keep us in the Middle Ages.

  4. L.Long says:

    “….atheistic position is articulated as a neutral and unbiased approach to religion…..” What ever gave her that idea??? When it comes to religion which nothing more than a policy to promote a specific type of bigotry & hate with fear and intolerance, I do not treat it as neutral and unbiased.

  5. Cali Ron says:

    So she believes secularists should be more understanding of religious people while they denigrate, condemn to hell and disrespect us. I’m curious what her religious beliefs are? I have yet to hear of a secularist condemning the religious to death or eternal damnation. If they choose to believe in myths then they will just have to live with the consequences.

  6. Brummie says:

    How sensible and balanced all the above views are -in my view.

  7. Eric Weatherby says:

    This is hardly going to be a controversial opinion on a site called “Freethinker”, but I agree with everything that the Swedish school system says about faith and religion. Also, if you think you’ve got it bad over there in the UK, spare a thought for those of us over here in the Colonies!

    AgentCormac: greetings from a fellow Asher fan!

  8. AgentCormac says:

    Happy yuletide everybody!

  9. cnocspeireag says:

    The researcher seems to have got it about right here ‘these aims may be difficult to reach if people belonging to various religious traditions are described as unintelligent and deceived, which was often the case’.
    She did mean that religious people are often unintelligent and deceived, didn’t she?

  10. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    A better approach? Sounds like the perfect approach to me.

  11. Health and Safety says:

    I treat religion with ridicule, distrust and contempt.
    Just go scan the news channels today and in an instant your sensibilities are assualted by the disingenuous,disgusting, dangerous, divisive and destructive antics of the pious. The outpourings of the Aof C and the Head of the Roman Crime Syndicate as reported on the BBC News Website today are beyond comprehension. I cannot reconcile their words with the actions of their organisations. It just the most awfully dishonest and appallingly transparent tissue of lies. I cannot see how they hope to deceive people … but it seems there is an audience out there who are too eager to want to beleieve the incredulous.

  12. Health and Safety says:

    I was just going to post the most disturbing picture of the pope kissing the knee of figuring of the fallacious baby jesus. The picture was deeply disturbing because it did look as if the pope was indeed being ‘fellatious’ and about to apply the pontifical maw to the divine member. I was going to post it but someone at the Beeb must have noticed the gaff and have now had the tawdry image taken down.

  13. Health and Safety says:

    Found it ….
    Take a look at this link and tell me if the picture of the pope is the height of bad taste … or is it an appalling gaff to release it by the bbc. Or maybe there is a soon to be dismissed anti catholic webmaster at the bbc .
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35178228

  14. Health and Safety says:

    And this one from the CoE…
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35177547
    Does welby not understand that he is criticising the most likely outcome of religious doctrine? That is to bring on the End of Times. And his brand of religion not so long ago behaved in equally evil and inhuman ways. Such blind ignorance is breathtaking.

  15. Angela_K says:

    I find it very difficult to respect the religious because they have little respect for those who do not share their delusions or are not members of the same cult. As others have alluded to, one only has to listen to the daily news to hear yet another example of the toxic effect of religion and religion’s continued involvement in “man’s bloody inhumanity to man” When the religious stop interfering with scientific progress, human rights and the right of humans to decide what they can and cannot do with their bodies, then perhaps I could respect them as fellow human beings but not for the preposterous beliefs they will undoubtedly continue to hold.

  16. jay says:

    Sweden is on a collision course with itself. At the same time that Swedes may be approaching a more rational perspective, they are (and have been) import huge numbers of people who are ABSOLUTLY opposed to any concept of religious tolerance or secularism. Sweden has been doing this longest and is facing serious problems in the ever growing ghettos. Do you really think that these populations are going to adopt liberal values (in much of EU, the majority of ISIS supporters are well off , well educated 2nd generation people. The nice idea of multiculturalism only works when some values are shared.

    [As it is, Sweden currently has the 2nd highest rate of rape in the world. While it is pretty much illegal for Swedish newspapers to identify perpetrators as ME immigrants, independent research indicates it’s not blond haired Swedish guys who are doing this]

  17. Leslie says:

    Of course it’s all nonsense
    But people need to find that out for themselves

  18. John says:

    I find her conclusions and recommendations ambiguous and unclear.
    She needs to learn to express herself much more clearly.
    Regarding Welby et. al.: these cult leaders have stood idly by for years while Palestinian christians were marginalised and eliminated, which is why a rabbi is using the usual sham pretext of blaming it on aggressive secularism.
    Put simply, all religious cults are a crock, and the sooner that is widely recognised and understood, the better the future can and will be.

  19. wholly human says:

    Well said John. Her ambiguity is almost implying that secularists who view the religious as deceived are responsible for the poor image of religionistas. What a joke!