Theo-Web-Kopfzeile: Theo-Web. Academic Journal of Religious Education 18 (2019), V.1, 160-171

A Finnish Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers as an Environment for Informal Learning of Religion

This empirical article studies practices in a Finnish reception centre for asylum seekers asking 1) what are the concrete or metaphorical places in the centre where religion could be seen, and 2) which kind of discourses about religion were present in the informal learning given at the studied centre. The data was collected using ethnographical methods, mainly by observations, discussions, and interviews. The asylum seekers in the centre had mainly come from Muslim majority countries and the centre was organised to follow the principles of secular democracy marked by Lutheran Christianity. The given main outlines of the centre considered that religion should be a private issue and not practised publicly. However, in everyday life, religion was seen in many ways: food practices, praying, setting the pace of time, and both Islamic and Christian festive celebrations. These practices challenged the idea of religion as only a private issue. There were mutual respect and openness on the part of both immigrants and residents not only to acquire new knowledge, but to learn from each other in an informal way and to develop ways of living together in mutual trust so that religion was accepted as a visible element of daily life to some extent. Religion was mostly a resource for positive meaning in the life of the centre.

asylum seeker, reception centre, religion, publicity and privacy, informal learning

Theo-Web. Academic Journal of Religious Education 18 (2019)