Children´s Right to Spirituality in a Religiously Illiterate Society

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states the right of every child to spiritual development. The right to spiritual development is often mentioned together with the right to physical, mental, moral and social development. Furthermore, the right to develop these capacities, including spirituality, is also described as the child’s right to health.

The child´s right to spiritual development is rarely discussed in a Swedish context. The lack of attention to children’s spirituality in Sweden should be seen in relation to what has been called religious illiteracy.

This child´s right to both religion and spiritual development is primarily to be protected by the family, and supported by society. Therefore, it is interesting to explore how different kinds of support to families in raising children are designed. Are children´s right to religion and spiritual development an issue, and if so, how are these rights understood and supported? The research question could also be connected to on-going research on religion as resource, not least in relation to children’s mental health. In this respect, there is also a link to Impact theme 4: Well-being and Health.

The aim of this study is to explore if and how children’s right to religion and to spiritual development are understood and supported in the Swedish society today.

This aim covers both a philosophical and theological investigation of how to define or interpret what is meant by children´s spiritual development, and an initial empirical study of how children´s spiritual development and right to religion is understood and supported in contemporary society.

The research project started in 2013, and is planned continue until 2015. 

Participating researcher: Katarina Westerlund

Last modified: 2021-03-12