Making minority faith (in)visible through religious education: parents’ experiences of the identification of their children’s Orthodox identity in Finnish public schools
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CitationMetso, Pekka. (2019). Making minority faith (in)visible through religious education: parents’ experiences of the identification of their children’s Orthodox identity in Finnish public schools. Journal of religious education, First Online: 08 February 2019, 10.1007/s40839-019-00075-5.
The focus of this article is on parents’ experiences with and perceptions of their children’s religious education (RE). The data consist of letters from 41 parents of Finnish Orthodox children and youth. In the letters, the parents describe their understanding of minority religious upbringing and how it is affected by different factors like RE. RE is a mandatory subject in Finnish schools, and it is taught in groups consisting of children with the same religious backgrounds. The main questions in this article are (1) how do the parents view the arrangements for Orthodox RE to make their children’s minority religious affiliation visible at school, and (2) what is the effect of RE on the formation of their children’s minority identity? The analyses show that parents perceive RE as an important factor in their children’s identity formation. Despite the sometimes inadequate arrangements for Orthodox RE in school, the parents are mostly happy with the subject and with their children’s RE teachers. RE makes the minority religious affiliation of Orthodox children both visible and invisible: their difference from the majority is exposed, but minority RE classes often take place outside of regular school hours and even outside of school premises.