The narrow understanding of the aim of religious education which confines it to that of nurturing faith is no longer viable. The exploration of the wider meaning of religious education can contribute to the establishment of right relations among people within nations and between the nations of the world themselves. There have been radical changes in the Irish cultural landscape over the last number of decades. The manner in which young people experience reality is culture bound and, therefore, it is critical to understand the culture of our time and place if we are to be effective religious educators.
This publication explores the meaning and identity of religious education within the cultural context of today. As a life-long process, religious education involves both the teaching of religion and the teaching of a religious way of life, thereby involving family, school and parish. An international perspective on some key issues currently confronting the teaching of religion in the classroom is also examined along with the future challenge for religious education of getting beyond (but not leaving behind) the schooling paradigm.