Free Speech and Religion

The Imperative for Religious Literacy Evaluation: Context, Key Insights, and Recommendations

June 27, 2023  • Kate Soules, Ph.D. & Religion & Society Program Publications

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Religious literacy education is a nascent field. Its proponents make substantial claims about its ability to lead to social change, both in countering negative forces that threaten social cohesion and in producing positive, pro-social changes in attitudes and behaviors. Yet, these claims are often difficult to assess. 

At present, religious literacy educators have little empirical evidence to demonstrate the proposed relationships between religious literacy education and positive social changes in civil society. This report seeks to ameliorate this issue by providing an overview of current research and practices related to the evaluation of religious literacy. 

There is no one-size-fits all version or approach to religious literacy education—it is a context specific endeavor. Accordingly, there is also no one way to approach its evaluation. In response, this report highlights the challenges and advantages of evaluation, as well as current barriers to the practice. The recommendations, along with the companion guidebook, encourage scholars and practitioners across the field of religious literacy education to begin incorporating more research and evaluation across programs and initiatives.

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