Who is responsible for faith literacy?
Different institutions — both academically-based and not — surely hold responsibility in teaching the wider public about the importance of faith in everyday life.
Firstly, religious institutions themselves have an obligation to reach out and engage the wider public with their mission statement. They are best positioned to give insight into the everyday experiences and practical beliefs of their own community members. In particular, the leaders of religious institutions are obliged to look after the needs of their congregation, and this can translate into bridging the gap of understanding between people of a particular faith group and ‘The Other’.
On a wider scale, national and local government institutions must help promote an understanding of faith in their localities. In our globalised age, trans-national political issues permeate public life, and policies abroad can affect policies made at home. Beyond administrative powers, charities and other not-for-profit organisations can often work side-by-side with both religious institutions and governments to help integrate people with differing understandings of what faith can mean, on both the level of the individual and its effect in wider society.
Specific research into understanding in detail faith and its impact in the world however must also be carried out. Higher education institutions thus also have a role to play in teaching us about the importance of faith, by funding research into its topical issues. They are especially well-placed to give an impartial and interdisciplinary approach, drawing out more nuanced responses in this demanding topic. However, the role of universities must go beyond simply research. Leading academic minds are also duty-bound to educate its students properly. This is not just to improve on-campus relations, but also to help shape some of the brightest minds who will go on to become future leaders of society.
Perhaps ultimately though, we all have a responsibility to promote an awareness of faith.