University courses in diversity education typically revolve around issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation, but the religious factors of American diversity are generally ignored. This article argues that religious plurality should be included in diversity curricula. Because religious communities do in fact contribute to the public life of this country, undergraduate students should take religion seriously as part of the American public scene. Moreover, encountering religious differences can contribute to students' acceptance of other diversity factors. This essay reviews a course the authors designed and taught at the University of Denver. Students explored the issues of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and the environment as engaged by five religious traditions - Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and religious alternatives (such as Native American Spirituality and Wicca). To foster critical thinking, teaching methods were based on cooperative learning rather than teacher authority. In this course students learned to assess critically religious communities' contributions to the broader society. The course demonstrates that students can move beyond personal biases to focus on social issues that challenge internalized values.
In his 1615 letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Lorraine, Galileo argues for a "principle of limitation": the authority of Scripture should not be invoked in scientific matters. In doing so, he claims to be following the example of St. Augustine. But Augustine's position would be better described as a "principle of differing purpose": although the Scriptures were not written in order to reveal scientific truths, such matters may still be covered by biblical authority. The Roman Catholic Church has rejected Galileo's principle, opting rather for Augustine's, leaving open the possibility of future conflicts between scientists and Church authority.
Unique among other disciplines in the academy, religion is almost exclusively approached as anobjectof study. Studyofreligion becomes studyaboutreligion. This approach, where religion becomes religious studies, is the product of the science-basedWissenschaftprinciple, which is often perceived to be wholly objective, without presupposition, and value-free. However, a post-modern critique shows that this principle itself is really none of these. This paper represents a call for re-orienting our approach to religion in the academy. Using a specific case at a specific institution - a historically Black, church-related liberal arts college - we will develop an approach in which the discipline of religion becomessubjectof study: studyofreligion becomes studybyreligion. We will show that such an approach is not only possible in the academy, but also desirable.
One of the most contentious issues among Christian denominations today is focused upon the rights of gays within the church. Historically, Christianity has been opposed to lesbian and gay orientation in both the church and wider society. However, recent social attitudes and legislation has become more liberal regarding homosexuality. This leaves the church as one of the last bastions against the gay cause. This article considers the key issues through an examination of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement in the UK. It overviews the principal aims of the movement in advancing gay rights within the church and traces its development over the last three decades. The article also considers the ways that the LGCM has mobilized its cause, not least of all its recourse to the secular language of "rights." Likewise, the article considers the strategy of conservative Christian organizations in resisting the gay movement in the churches.
Martha Reinke has argued that the body, as an intimate source of boundaries, has been used to reflect back on a smaller scale the issues of the social structure. This essay argues that women's bodies function as an inscriptive surface of power and knowledge for patriarchal society. This function is related to the inmate in the Panopticon who is surveyed and then internalizes the gaze of the surveyor. A cultural phenomenon such as "cover girls" demonstrates how women's bodies are locations for the incarnation of the male gaze. Luce Irigaray's strategic mimesis, Rosi Braidotti's theory of female embodied materialism, and bell hooks' oppositional gaze are possible sites of strategic resistance for female subjectivity against the male gaze. In feminist theology "Being-a-woman" provides a strategically essential identity location to think about God/dess, especially as it relates to female embodiment and incarnation. Women become able to reject dominant modes of representation and incarnation, such as "cover girls," and become subjects of divine identity. Feminist theorists' and theologians' work destabilizes patriarchy's incarnational notion of women's bodies and then constructs a notion of divinity that valorizesallwomen's experiences and aids in a formulation of an epistemology of embodiment.
Exploring religious themes, idioms, and language in Albion Tourgée's and Thomas Dixon Jr.'s most noteworthy novels on the Civil War and Reconstruction, this study suggests that religion provided a critically important medium to discuss sectional and race relations. Attention to religion exposes both differencesandsimilarities in these texts. While Dixon described northern faith as corrupt, Tourgée viewed southern Christianity as hypocritical; although Dixon mocked northern missionaries as blunderers, Tourgée praised them as angels sent from heaven. But the authors shared several positions as well. They depicted the Ku Klux Klan as a quasi-religious organization, acknowledged the position of southern churches as locations of cultural hegemony, and believed that religion must play a role in regional reconciliation. Ultimately, this study challenges historians and literary critics to move beyond mere examinations of the racial and gender issues in Tourgée's and Dixon's novels by demonstrating how sectional, racial, and gender ideologies were often explained and mediated by religious beliefs and language.