'Just leave it blank' non-religious children and their negotiation of prayer in school

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DateAccepted/In press - 31 Jan 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 4 May 2020
Number of pages21
Early online date4/05/20
Original languageEnglish


This article examines how non-religious children experience acts of collective worship and prayer in primary school settings and analyses how they negotiate religion and their non-religious identities in these events. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork examining non-religious childhoods and collective worship in three English primary schools, the authors explore how non-religious children demonstrate their agency when confronted with particular boundaries and concepts related to religion and non-religion in school contexts. Attending to the experiences, perspectives, and practices of non-religious children adds to our understanding of the varieties of non-religion, which has to date largely focused on elite, adult populations. Focusing on non-religious children’s experiences of prayer reveals how these children did not experience tensions between praying to God and their non-religious identities and articulated their own interpretations of these practices, deepening understanding of the lived realities of non-religious cultures and identities.

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