Exploring Ultimate Worth in a Post-Secular World
This book addresses the question of human rights education in a world that is witnessing a resurgence of religion in public life, and a continuation of religion across much of the globe, long after secularization theories predicted its decline. Promoting a universal vision of human rights while acknowledging religious diversity is a challenge for schools. This book starts with the basic premise that human rights are grounded in a belief in the dignity and ultimate worth of the human person. Drawing on key philosophical and theological sources for understanding dignity, it builds a vision of human rights and religious education that seeks to square the impossible circle of universal human rights education in a religiously diverse world.
Introduction to Part I
Part I concerns human rights education and religion, the post-secular perspective, the English curriculum and the primacy of dignity. Chapter 1 explores the idea of human rights education in some depth. It examines how international documentation, educational literature and teaching guidance documents advance a secular conception of HRE and religion as something that has a diminishing role. It examines the implications of separating human rights from any or all philosophical or theological dependency and problematizes such separation. The human rights expression of a core belief in ultimate human worth brings belief into focus. Seeing HRE as a secularizing enterprise strains the ambition of religious friendship and understanding as human rights competes against religion.
Chapter 2 explores the question of human rights in a world where religion is increasingly prominent in society. The separation of sacred and secular domains and assumptions around the secularization thesis are problematized as lending weight to accusations that human rights are an expression of (secularizing) western imperialism. Thinking post-secular requires us to confront the role of religion differently. HRE sources can develop ways of interpreting religion as contributing to a grounding for human rights or being interrelated with them in other ways.
Chapter 3 explores the presence and importance of rights in English curriculum documentation and how these have changed and diminished over time. It mainly focuses on religious education (RE) and citizenship education (CE).
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