This chapter analyses the reasons for focussing on religious education in Asia. Its starting point is what many Western sociologists of religion have termed "European modernity" and its impact on creating the secular state that separates religion from the state. Such a separation meant that religious faith came to be seen as a private transaction between individuals and their chosen transcendent being. Often such sociologists have portrayed this phenomenon as though it is universal and have assumed that secularisation has been a process common to all societies as they industrialize and urbanize. Drawing on more recent sociological analyses, this chapter will argue that the European experience is not universal, and that an "Asian modernity" provided a quite different context for religious activity, a context that was far from secular. At the same, the chapter, and indeed the book, is premised on Chen's (2010) assumption expressed in the concept of "inter-referencing". That is, more can be learnt about Asia by studying Asian exemplars and making Asia the point of reference than by making comparisons between the West and Asia. This assumption accounts for the structure of the book and the comparisons that can be made from it. Copyright © 2021 selection and editorial matter, Kerry J. Kennedy and John Chi-Kin Lee; individual chapters, the contributors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReligious education in Asia: Spiritual diversity in globalized times
EditorsKerry John KENNEDY, Chi Kin John LEE
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
ISBN (Electronic)9780429321351
ISBN (Print)9780367336998
Publication statusPublished - 2021


Kennedy, K. J., & Lee, J. C.-K. (2021). Religion, modernities and education: Contexts for Asia's religious education. In K. J. Kennedy & J. C.-K. Lee (Eds.), Religious education in Asia: Spiritual diversity in globalized times (pp. 1-11). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.


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