Oxford Handbook of Religion and American Education (2018)


– Thank you for coming
to our session today on The New Oxford Handbook for Religion and American Education. And thank you, also, to the Committee on the Public Understanding Of Religion for providing this time. And I particularly want
to thank my colleague, friend and co-editor, Nate Walker, for inviting me into this project. The contract for this book was signed five years ago at this meeting. That’s 2013 B.T., before Trump. We can’t unknow what has
happened in the last few years, and for me it has underscored the urgency and the purpose for this book. For a number of us, for a number of years, there’s been a concern
about the lack of education about religion in our public schools and higher ed. institutions, and education towards the end of increasing religious
literacy in all its dimensions in the service of enhancing
liberal democracy. The seismic shift in national
thinking on this issue created by the quakes of the
court decisions in the 1960s, with continuing tremors still, set in motion what would
become the religious right but also parallel
initiatives to teach religion in constitutionally appropriate manner in the public schools. The highly decentralized nature of schools leaves curricular decision making at the behest of some 13,000
public school districts, school boards, comprising
nearly 100,000 public schools where 90% of the US students are taught. This frustrates almost
any large scale initiative about teaching about
religion in the curriculum. And as I said at the outset, this was conceived in the B.T era. I admit to being among
those lulled into thinking that we had achieved a state
of societal enlightenment signified by the election of
an African American president, possibly followed by a woman as president, all but ushering in a new millennium of socially evolved humanity. This, of course, would be opening the door to introducing religious
literacy and all its nuances on multiple fronts here in the US, and this book would
stand ready as a resource to analyze the many issues involved and the contexts in which
this could be accomplished. Well, the 2016 election and
it’s continuing aftershocks alter the landscape for many of us. The environment in which
nuance was the ideal seemed to vanish overnight. How has our role as educators
about religion been impacted, changed by what we have
experienced and hopefully learned? This book continues in
its value, I believe, to be the same resource
for which it was intended. However, how it will be employed in our brave new world remains to be seen. The niceties of nuanced
discourse in public settings seems a challenging,
evermore remote ideal. But what would gloves off, bare knuckled religion
education look like? If there even is such a thing. At any rate, the objective
of this initiative seems more important than ever,
given our altered context, and today we’d like to offer a look at some of the issues
explored in this volume by featuring four of the 40 authors who contributed to the work. This handbook aims to examine the current state of religion
in American education from homeschooling to
private religious schools to public schools to
religious institutions and on through the range of public and private higher education. The book is organized into five sections, frameworks, lifespan faith development, faith-based K12 education, religion and public schools, and religion and higher education. The first unit, frameworks,
is designed to expose readers from a variety of
disciplines to the frameworks that inform the study of
religion and education, privatism, secularism, pluralism, religious literacy, religious
liberty, and democracy. Rather than stereotypes of
ideological perspectives, these chapters are designed to
provide a sympathetic summary of schools of thought. Faith development, the second unit, surveys the various ways
that three institutions, the family, religion, and the state, can contribute to the moral, intellectual, and faith development of
learners across lifespans. The third unit on faith-based education surveys the various pedalogical, excuse me, pedagogical,
political, and legal issues associated with homeschooling,
private religious schools, and religiously affiliated
charter schools. Public schools have proven
to be the primary locus for the major church-state
battles in the United States, and is the focus of the fourth unit. These legal issues can be
classified into five areas in which the state tends to regulate religion in public schools, religious expression, curricula, extra-curricular activities, religious displays, and
access to facilities. The fifth and final section addresses the current state of
American higher education as it has evolved from
its colonial beginnings, examining the place of religion within and across each of its sectors. I could not be more pleased to have these scholars with us today to speak to their work
within these sections. First, Jonathon Kahn from Vassar College will talk to, speak to us from his chapter on secularism and religion
in American education, then Steven Green from
Willamette University on religion relative to public funding, then Mark Chancey from
Southern Methodist University on the Bible and public schools. Our fourth author was to be Rhonda Jacobsen of Messiah
College speaking on religion and higher education. Regrettably, she had to leave early. However, I prevailed
upon another colleague and handbook author in attendance, John Schmalzbauer from
Missouri State University, to present her remarks. John also contributed to the handbook chapter on campus ministry and has, I should say, just a couple months ago, published a book with Kathleen Mahoney for Bailor University Press entitled The Resilience of Religion
in American Higher Education. I got to see an early draft,
and I highly recommend it, so thank you, John. Nate Walker, co-editor of this project will conclude with his remarks and facilitate the
discussion that follows. So, again, thank you, and
turn it over to you, Jonathon. (light applause) – Good afternoon, everybody. So, as Mike said, I have an essay in the framework section of the volume. I’d like to begin by
thanking Nate and Mike for including me in
this tremendous volume. It’s a real honor. The volume’s a great teaching volume. It’s for reading with
others, students especially, to get them and all of us to think about the conditions of this thing we do. So, I’d like to begin with a few words on the recently, politically departed. In the winter of 2015, Wisconsin
governor, Scott Walker, unveiled his budget plan for
the University of Wisconsin. Along with his radical budget
cuts to the state system, Walker brazenly deleted
the soaring language of the University’s century-old,
hallowed mission statement, language that stands at the core of what’s known as the Wisconsin Idea. Under Walker’s dispensation, gone was over a hundred year
Wisconsin Idea’s insistence on, quote, developing in
students heightened intellectual, cultural and humane sensitivities and a sense of purpose, close quote. No longer, under Walker’s vision, would the University of
Wisconsin envision education as, quote, designed to educate people and improve the human condition. That’s also from the Wisconsin Idea. And in a final, fatal blow, Walker excised the credo’s
most cherished claim. Quote, basic to every
purpose of the system is the search for truth. In their place, Walker added new language that fixed the purpose of
university education on, quote, meeting the state’s workforce needs. The New York Times quipped it was as if a trade school
agenda was substituted for the idea of a university. So, the backlash against these changes was immediate and overwhelming. The people of Wisconsin, from all sides of the political spectrum, skewered their governor. Very quickly, Walker backtracked from these proposed changes, disowning them as an
unintentional drafting error, maybe a preview of the Trump era. Clearly, Walker had unknowingly stepped on a third rail of Wisconsin politics. Walker had profaned his state’s sacred. Despite a continuingly difficult economy and despite electing a Republican governor whose overall agenda effectively asserts that education is worth little more than its technocratic efficiencies, the citizens of Wisconsin demanded that their university’s education aspire to broad-minded considerations
of the true and the good. It’s as if the citizens of
Wisconsin in the 21st century were channeling their
progressive era forebearers, those forebearers who
wrote the Wisconsin ideal, whose sentiments can
be succinctly captured by W.E.B DuBois from that same era. Quote, is not life more than meat and body more than raiment? And men ask this today,
all the more eagerly, because of the sinister signs in recent educational movements. DuBois, of course, could be
speaking as much about today. So, Walker versus the Wisconsin Idea reveals the highly contested
and deeply uncertain nature of secular education in American. Consider that what Walker
and his citizenry differ on is not whether a Wisconsin
education should be secular, but rather, what a secular
education consists of. In this case, the secular
was decidedly not, at least for the citizens of Wisconsin, what Max Weber might have claimed it was which is disenchanted where, quote, the ultimate and most sublime values have retreated from
public life, end quote. Something non-secular,
something spiritual, something maybe even religious looms large in the Wisconsin Idea. And so what I tried to do in
my contribution to the volume is to describe these loomings. I do this in three parts. In the first, I spend some time working with what I call the new secular critics, folks like Charles Taylor and Jeff Stout, Saba Mahmood and Talal Asad, and I lay out the ways in which they argue that the relationship between
the secular and the religious needs to be understood
as always intertwined and mutually constituting. More sort of the book of Ruth, for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge, than say Peter Berger’s
secularization thesis. These critics attune us to the way the conventional idea about the secular as a fair and neutral plane free from the irrationalities of religion is a mythic creation, one that often proclaims its own innocence and disavows its own power. In the second part of the essay, I explore the way the creation story of innocence and disavowal of power is at play in the development
of higher education in the late 19th and early 20th century as higher ed. institutions either ignore or explicitly drop their Christian pasts in the pursuit of
epistemological progress. Objective, accurate forms
of knowledge, so they think. Using Christian Smith’s work, I argue that the forms of
epistemological progress are deeply shaped and
formed by inchoate moral and spiritual ideals that
are the close relatives of these institutions’ Christian pasts. Again, much more book of
Ruth than Peter Berger. The third section of the
paper tries to address what counts as our modern
crisis in higher education, that is, in this moment. In a direct way, I encourage us all to ask the honest and plain questions. What are we doing when we’re educating liberal arts students? I encourage us all,
religious, non-religious, spiritual but not religious, atheist, to own the fact that
no matter what we think counts as the best forms of knowledge, we are engaged in the work
of character formation. And the best version of
secular universities, places that are not
explicitly denominational yet they’re honest about the ways that multiple dispensations
inform their daily practices, that the best of these
need to address directly the conditions of character formation in pluralistic context. What’s interesting is that a raft of contemporary
critics that I look at who worry about the state of higher ed., from Andrew Delbanco and Michael Roth on the so-called secular
left to Christian critics like Stanley Hauerwas or Rhonda Jacobsen who contributed to our volume, how they are all urging similar things. They can be best summarized by
Delbanco’s astonishing urging that we need to be at work, we need to be working
at learning how, quote, to receive another’s soul. Secular education settings
should probably admit that they have no idea how to do this. They might also understand
the endless controversies around free speech and identity on campus as a failure to how to know
to receive another’s soul. The broader ongoing tumult
on college campuses, whether about race or sexual
violence or free speech, I think can be productively reframed as students questioning
the secular constraints of university life. What both my students and students nationally
are saying is this. More talking, more panel discussions, more rational deliberation,
more secular modes of learning are not what is needed now. What is needed now are other more productive ways of engaging others where the very terms of
engagement are rethought. In the final moments of my essay, I suggest that it’s time that perhaps we in the secular academy begin thinking of our educational
practices as liturgical, education as liturgy, as public enactments that shape desires and articulate forms of human flourishing. Liturgy shapes desires through bodily performances and practices and not through the mind’s
epistemic capacities. What would it mean to think that the crucial purpose of
our work in the classroom is not to think the right answer but to learn, in Hauerwas’s words, quote, to act wisely in a context of conflict, ambiguity, and change, close quote. Doing so would mean to think of the work of knowledge formation as an awakening to the
affects of interaction and not as achieving rational sovereignty. Might we have the courage
to risk embarrassment and ridicule in our quixotic,
pedagogical attempts to foster communities that we
have not yet quite imagined? Thank you.
(audience applauding) – Good afternoon. As Mike said, I’m Steve Green. I teach at Willamette University, and I want to also thank Mike and Nate for putting together this anthology. This is probably about the tenth anthology that I’ve partic… Well, there’s another
one coming out, okay, so this is probably the ninth anthology I’ve participated in. Participated in about
10, and let me just say, I think this is the best
product that I’ve seen. It’s really well done and
really well thought out and constructed and organized, so I really wanna commend you two on doing that. And then it has also made me realize, having recently been
asked to edit an anthology and turning it down because I realized how much work this would be, that it is a commitment of love, I think, to do something like this. And you don’t get a whole lot
of glory out of it sometimes, so again, I think it’s
a really nice piece of addition to the literature. So, I’m going to be talking about public funding of religious schools, and something that, in some ways, is near and dear to my heart,
and I’ll get into that. I probably should begin by a disclosure. My primary appointment is actually as a law professor at
Willamette University, but I also teach in religious studies and in the history department
because I have a PhD also. So, I approach these things primarily from a legal historical perspective, but in addition to that, even further disclosure is
I’ve also been a litigator, and some of the more
recent church-state cases that deal with public funding as well as some that, and Mark will be talking
about in his area, I’ve participated in. I try to be objective as I can when I’m writing and making presentations, but sometimes it’s hard to be objective when you know some of the skeletons behind some of these cases. Well… Religion in public education. Well, I’m a church-state
scholar and historian, and when I think about church-state, you can’t think about church and state without thinking about
religion and education. It is, by far, the central focus of at least the development
of church-state jurisprudence and our thinking about church and state. Without a doubt, there are
a lot of issues out there that do not involve religion
and education today. In fact, they seem to be
the more salient issues. The Supreme Court has just granted review in a case dealing
with a large cross on public property
outside Washington, D.C., so it’s a religious display issue. And also what we’ve been
seeing more recently have been cases that have been involving questions of religious exemptions or exemptions based upon religious claims from public accommodations laws or adhering to the Affordable Care Act. And so these are really kind of the hot button issues at present. But still, when you go
back and look at the slow, long development of church-state thinking, church-state jurisprudence, no issue has been more central to the development of that jurisprudence and that cultural thought than the intersection of
religion and education. And then, not to highlight, necessarily, the significance of this chapter I wrote and the chapter that Mark
and a couple others wrote, no issue or issues have had greater impact than the development of the twin issues of religious expression in public education and the public funding
of religious schooling. In fact, the subtitle to my third book was it was the conflict that shaped modern church-state doctrine,
and I think it truly was. Now, most people think in discreet areas, and certainly, the court
thinks in categories. That’s one thing we try to teach, drill into the heads of
all these law students is categorical thinking, that issues of religious
expression in public schools and then public funding
of religious education are two distinct issues. I’ve spent a fair amount of my scholarship trying to establish
the integral connection of these two back in the 19th century and how they really only kind of diverged in the 20th century as
being distinct issues. Again, I’ll let Mark talk about the religious education question. I’m talking about the
public funding question. Well, this is really where
it started, in a sense, at least in the modern era, that the Everson versus
Board of Education, the first case the Supreme
Court of the United States ever entered into the public debate about church-state questions
was a public funding case. And so, what I do in this chapter is I try to give an overview
of some of the history, some of the historical antecedents of this battle over public
funding of religious education, and so that’s approximately
the first half of the chapter. Some of the first battles that occurred go back into the early
part of the 19th century, at the same time that public education was just emerging within public sphere and that there was, at least in the early
eras of public education, somewhat of an intermixing of religious education
with public education and even sometimes some support of religious-based schooling. So, I cover some of the
earlier funding battles, starting in New York City in 1824 and then bring it through
the 19th century development where public education starts really creating a distinct identity. And so it raises this question, of course, if you have a distinct
system of public education then what do you do with these emerging private religious schools, predominantly Catholic parochial schools, and do you provide funding for that? And there are many reasons, I think, why public officials made
the decision not to fund private religious education. Some of it was for self-preservation of the public school funds. Some of it was suspicion
of Catholic schooling. Some of it was outright bigotry. But in essence, throughout
the 19th century, you have this slow development of making these firm lines between the two going into the post-Civil War controversy that resulted in the proposal to add a specific constitutional amendment to the US Constitution
called the Blaine Amendment that would have prohibited all states from funding private religious education. That failed, but many
states subsequently adopted similar types of legislation. Sometimes they’re called
baby Blaine Amendments, and these are actually still
somewhat in play in litigation. I then shift, in the chapter, to talk about the modern development of the no funding principle,
basically from 1947 to 2002. And the basic lesson
to take away from that, and this is a creation
of the court’s adoption of the principle of the
separation of church and state, is that not withstanding saying one thing and saying it rather frequently about separation of church and state, the court’s rhetoric was
always so much greater or stricter than its holdings. In fact, the first decision where the court announces this in 1947 was one where the court throws down this almost absolutist
jurisprudence rhetoric but then actually upholds
the type of funding that was in issue, reimbursements for
transportation of children to private Catholic schools. And so really, the lesson
of this whole debate about public funding of religion is how much is the rhetoric
controlling the reality? And the development of
public funding questions between 1947 and 2002 has always been a very
kind of incremental, slow shift toward greater types of funding to private religious education. In essence that not withstanding some of
the things the court said, that there were ways that
the court was willing to accept greater types of collaboration in funding of private religious education. Reason I keep saying the
word, this date, 2002, is because I kind of mark
that as a transition point. That was the famous Zelman
voucher case out of Cleveland where the court, even though
only by a five-four decision, very definitively said that aid that flows to private religious education is permissible so long as it goes through the magic formula of neutral
program with private, individual public choice. That really is a watershed, and to a certain extent, maybe that kind of ends at least the legal debate about public funding
of religious education. The only really threshold that
remains, that is still there is direct public funding of tuition, but generally all other types of aid now seem to be permissible. And to a degree, interest… This is one of the reasons where I’ve actually stopped
teaching a section on public funding of religious education in my First Amendment
classes in law school because in some ways, it’s not that much of
a legal issue anymore. But just because it’s not a legal issue doesn’t mean it’s not still
a controversial issue. The public controversy over funding of religious education remains, and increasingly, it takes
on partisan characteristics. With the Zelman decision in 2002, the court gave the
green light to vouchers. So there have been some existing plans, the Cleveland plan, the Milwaukee plan, District of Columbia has a plan, the largest plan being the
Indiana Voucher Program. Most of these are oriented
toward low-income students in lower performing schools, but those have all been
given the green light. We also have had the advent of things called educational savings accounts where people can actually
contribute to a savings account where the money can then flow to paying for tuition for religious schools. But as I said, they still
remain highly controversial, and many states are
still rejecting the idea of increasing types of funding for private religious education. These have become somewhat
partisan in many instances, and of course, since Mike opened the door that this book predates Trumpism, there probably are some
things we may have, would have said if we’d
had a way to go back and do some final editing of the book. One thing that has happened,
actually, legally I would say is a case that was last year
called Trinity Lutheran Church where the court actually
crossed another threshold and for the first time
upheld direct state grants to a church to do facility renovation. And so, consequently, that
was a significant advance. It had nothing with
about education, per say, but still the court being more willing, more favorable to funding
of religious education, that is one thing that’s happened. But then we’ve also seen with the Trump administration, the appointment of a
secretary of education with no experience in public education, and her experience has been
within choice, charter schools. And that has certainly kind of highlighted some of the politicization
of these particular issues. Then I saw some statistic
just the other day that she has spent 4% of her time attending traditional public schools. I’m not sure what the
secretary of education spends most of their time doing, but at least that was
the highlight of that. That was a very low number compared to previous
secretaries of education. She spent, I can’t
remember what it was now, so I shouldn’t give the figure, but substantially greater time attending and visiting alternative schooling, charter schools, Magnet schools, and private religious schools. And so this idea of a
secretary of public education focusing primarily on
non-public education matters. She has also come out recently in attacking these state
baby Blaine Amendments, as we call them, that have
still placed prohibitions on the funding of religious education. So, these issues still remain. And one last issue that
is always in the question about funding of religious education, that goes back prior to the
Brown versus Board of Education but it immediately following it, and it’s still an issue that comes up is when you are funding
private religious education, that lingering questions remained about whether this enhances or alleviates, mediates racial segregation
in urban inner cities. So, the Cleveland plan, the
Milwaukee plan, of course, are low-income, they’re
based in the inner cities, and they have a high percentage of the children who attend those programs are African American or minority students. But these are all limited programs, and the question is always out there that many people are concerned about, that if there is more of an expansion and opening up of voucher programs or even direct funding of tuition, whether that will actually do the opposite and have effects on enhancing
segregation that may occur when more people have the option to opt out of public education. So, I guess the take away,
and I think I’m out of time, the two lessons are
interesting that legally, some of these issues have been resolved, but at least within the
public policy sphere, they still remain very
controversial and very contested. And so hopefully the book, not just my chapter
but the book generally, will provide some background and at least some information for people who are curious about
these particular questions. Thank you.
(audience applauding) – My name is Mark Chancey, I’m a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist
University in Dallas. I want to thank Mike and Nate for allowing me to be a part of this book. I think this is going to be
the go-to first reference for religion in education. It’s just such a wonderful
collection of essays, and I’m honored to be a part of it. Thank you to the Committee for the Public Understanding of Religion for hosting this session. My essay is about the Bible and American K through
12 public education, and it focuses particularly on the history of the Bible’s place in public schools and especially on the transition from school-sponsored
ritualistic Bible reading to the academic aspirationally non-sectarian
study of the Bible. Putting contemporary practices
into historical perspective demonstrates just how firmly
ongoing debates about the Bible and public education happening today are deeply rooted in past controversies. As I sum up the main points of my article, I’ll also make points of contact with those of other contributors. Many modern proponents of increasing the Bible’s role in public schools argue that the Bible once played
a much more prominent place in the project of American education, and of course, they are correct. My essay talks a little
bit about early America, taking its cues largely
from Steve Green’s work that he’s done so much on this, and talks about how in the colonial period and early America, the early republic, the Bible was used not only
for spiritual formation but also to teach reading and morals, and Biblical material filled
primers and textbooks. Because schooling was often, usually, in the hands of religious organizations, it is unsurprising that the Bible played such a prominent role. When the common school
system began to emerge in the mid-19th century, school proponents assumed
that the common knowledge that all citizens needed
included religious training in the nation’s majority
tradition, Protestantism. So, common school educators incorporated the Bible
into their curricula but also emphasized the
importance of daily Bible reading to instill character, morals, and piety. These readings, especially at first, were typically done from
the King James Version favored by Protestants. Educators developed a
system to avoid offending any particular Protestant
church or denomination by reading the Bible without any comment, leaving interpretation up to the student. And they considered this
a non-sectarian practice since it did not advance the interests of any particular sect understood to be a
Protestant denomination. This practice was widespread,
though not universal, and unsurprisingly, in hindsight, it often prompted controversy. Roman Catholics, Jews,
free-thinkers often protested it, sometimes along with Protestants who thought that it infringed
upon freedom of conscience. Some responded by allowing readings from the Catholic Bible, as well. In some areas, Bible reading was stopped. Elsewhere, they dug in
with the King James. The controversy was one of the reasons why Catholics developed
parochial schools in the 1800s and why by the end of the 1800s there was such energy in
carrying on the project of having a Catholic school
associated with every parish so that Catholic school children would not have to be subjected
to Protestant indoctrination. And that history is discussed
on the handbook’s chapter on private religious schools
with several contributors including Kate Soules. As for Protestants, some
worked really diligently to uphold this practice of Bible reading, and others opposed it, and well into the 20th century, state legislatures debated
and sometimes passed laws promoting or prohibiting school-sponsored Bible reading with cases ending up in
various state courts. So, as all of this
wrangling over Bible reading was happening in legislatures,
court rooms, and classrooms, Protestant religious educators
came up with new ways to find a role for the Bible
in students’ instruction, academic courses or academic instruction about the Bible or other
aspects of religion, usually Christianity, taught
in cooperative arrangements between churches and schools and local organizations,
congregations, religious groups. In the 1910s, states
began developing plans to ensure that students had access to religious education opportunities, particularly Bible study. North Dakota and Colorado
led the way in 1912 and 1913, approving plans for public school students to get credit for Biblical instruction. This movement took off
so fast that by 1927 at least 33 states gave credit
to public school students for getting instruction
in Biblical studies. The pioneers of this movement
named several reasons why such courses were essential. One was evangelism. They needed to reach the unchurched. Unchurched students, their term, might otherwise never encounter the Bible. But, these educators argued,
even devout Christian children could benefit from the instruction these opportunities provided. The sad fact, they argued, was that Sunday School
was miserably ineffective. The teachers were untrained, the curriculum was shallow, and the students misbehaved, especially, according to many experts
at the time, little boys. Public school Bible courses
were seen as an antidote to this problem of weak
church-based religious education. Of course, the study
would also raise morality. It would teach students piety. It would keep them out of jails. It would reduce juvenile delinquency. There were also proponents
who grounded their arguments in religious literacy. People can’t be educated if
they don’t know about the Bible. And this whole question
of how Biblical literacy is related to religious literacy and how that’s related to civic formation and religious formation is discussed in Ben Marcus’s essay in the book as well as Walter Feinburg’s
essay in the book. This move towards courses
devoted to religion happened right when the
field of religious education was forming and institutionalizing. That’s one reason why it
happens in this time period. Protestants had long had
Sunday School associations. Those were increasingly
collaborating in the early 1900s. The Religious Education
Association was formed in 1903. In 1922, the International Council for Religious Education was formed. Jewish education agencies were forming in the big cities in this time period. Now, the plans varied
in their particulars. Students took religious education classes on campus and off campus, for credit, not for credit, during school hours,
outside of school hours. For the most part,
Protestants led this movement, but in some cases, Jews and Catholics found
ways to participate, and Latter Day Saints
had parallel programs starting very, very early in Utah and the inner-mountain West, sending students off campus, often receiving academic credit from the school system for their classes. A lot changed with the
McCollum court case in 1948. That’s a famous story, but
one worth telling again for how it reveals tensions
around these issues. In 1945, Vashti McCollum protested a plan in Champaign, Illinois
that dismissed students from their regular classes so they could go to religion classes taught inside the school building by representatives of
local faith communities. The program in Champaign, Illinois reflected some intentionality in respecting religious diversity and that originally, it
was aimed and designed for Protestants, Jews, and
Catholics to take the courses. But the implementation did not
match that inclusive vision. The program excluded Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jewish students often
experienced taunting, and non-participants in the
program were criticized. So, McCollum withdrew her son
from the fifth grade class and her family was ostracized
by many in the community. She filed a lawsuit
saying you couldn’t have this type of religious instruction in the public school grounds. It violated the establishment clause, and this is one of the
early cases of the sort talked about by Steve. The program was government-sponsored, compulsory religious education and thus a violation
of the First Amendment. So, several essays explore
these types of issues, not only Steve’s but also
one by Charles Haynes and John Witte Jr. and Brian Kaufman. Religious instruction of this type aside, Bible reading had
continued in many states, though by the mid-20th century, it was no longer as widespread
as it had once been. Several cases about
school-sponsored Bible reading were making their way up the courts. Two of them were eventually combined for the 1963 decision Abington v. Schempp. The Schempp ruling famously prohibited school-sponsored Bible reading, although that practice
continued well into the 1970s across much of the country
and it still happens today. I heard a story last week of a first grade teacher
who was reading Bible verses to her group of students every morning. No better way to start the
day than with a Bible verse was what she told them. So, cases like that are a good example of where Kevin Pregent
and Nate Walker’s essay on religious expression
could come in handy. The Schempp decision, of course, validated academic,
non-sectarian study of the Bible and religion more broadly, but how to reach that
benchmark of objectivity is the challenge. The devil is in the details. What constitutes objectivity? And here Emile Lester and Walter Feinburg have much to say in the volume. Looking specifically at Bible courses, I’d like to bring the discussion
in the book up-to-date since so much has
changed, even since then. The level of interest in Bible courses among politicians and political
activists remains high. Since 2000, legislators have introduced bills promoting Bible
courses in 20 states, and in seven of those states, the legislature passed them into law. Two other states passed laws
authorizing school credit for release-time courses. In 2016, the national platform
of the Republican party urged states to offer Bible electives, citing the indispensability of a good understanding of the Bible for the development of
an educated citizenry. A 2017 Congressional
Prayer Caucus Foundation report on religious freedom contained a sample Biblical Literacy Act which has already served
as the basis for bills. What’s fascinating about
this is in many cases these state laws aren’t even necessary if a school district wants
to offer a Bible course. Certainly, in terms of constitutional law, it’s okay depending on how they do it. So, these courses are taught, whether as English Language Arts courses or social studies courses in at least a few school districts in most states across the union. In some cases, they’re
taught in many schools, as for example, in North Carolina. Their advocates appeal
to the same arguments of a century ago, religious literacy, civic formation, moral formation, curbing
juvenile delinquency, and teaching American identity, and often the course’s biggest fans seem to conflate Protestant
identity with American identity. These course leave us with questions. What role should Biblical literacy have in the educational programs
of a pluralistic democracy in which religious diversity is increasing and religious affiliation is decreasing? Is the political energy
devoted to these courses intended to undercut efforts to teach about religion more broadly? That is to say, is this all about culturally privileging the Bible? To end on a theme from
Erik Owens’s article about common schools and the common good, to what extent do courses about the Bible help cultivate the sort of respect for our diverse citizenship
that’s necessary to motivate common effort towards a broadly understood common good? For all of the public
discussion of Bible courses, that’s a question that usually
goes largely unaddressed. Thank you.
(audience applauding) – I’m John Schmalzbauer from
Missouri State University department of religious studies, and I’ll join the other
panelists in thanking Mike Waggoner and Nate Walker
for all the hard work they did corralling so many people in
such well-organized sections and even having Martin Marty write the forward, and just what a privilege it
is to have all this together, and I know it’s a work
I’m gonna be consulting and using as time goes forward. I wanna just say I really appreciate the work of Rhonda Jacobsen
and her spouse Jake, and I regret that they’re
not doing this panel. It’s a privilege to
step in in her absence. Like them, I am, I guess, a critic of
a uncritical secularization history of American higher education that assumes there’s no room for the study of religion in universities. We know differently in the AAR, I guess, that religion is taken seriously, and I think their work
has really shown that, and so having cited their work, I’m now happy to channel
her statement here which I will read now. Religion and American Higher
Education by Rhonda Jacobsen. As is evident in the
remarks that preceded mine, The Oxford Handbook of
Religion and American Education covers a lot of territory, ranging from the
theoretical to the empirical and covering all educational levels. The final section of the volume
will be of special interest to almost all the people in this room because it focuses on higher education. This is what we do. Most of us research, write, teach, and converse about religion on the playing field of higher education. We are scholars of religion, but it is higher education
that pays our salaries and gives us the wherewithal
to be the scholars we are. Understanding religion’s
connections to college and university education is thus not merely a matter of
incidental interest. It is existential. This relationship is foundational
to how we see ourselves and how we understand
our callings as scholars. My chapter in the handbook,
co-authored with my colleague, husband, and partner
in crime Jake Jacobsen focuses on private
religiously unaffiliated colleges and universities and on colleges and universities associated with mainline
Protestant denominations. So, this chapter is supposed to describe the place of religion at hundreds of independent institutions plus hundreds more that are
religiously affiliated schools, but not Catholic or Evangelical. The schools covered in this chapter range from major research universities like Harvard and Vanderbilt
to small liberal arts colleges like St. Olaf and Reed, and each school has had
its own unique history. Some of these schools
have never been affiliated with any church or other religious body. Some were once affiliated with a church but later disaffiliated. Others remain relatively
closely associated with their founding
denominations, and finally, some remain connected to
their founding churches but only very loosely. This is a polyglot group of
institutions, to be sure, but when it comes to religion, they actually share a common story. The broadest brushed story
goes something like this. During the early years of establishing institutions of higher
education in America, religion in general and
Protestantism in particular was at the core of American culture, and Protestantism’s values
and perspectives accordingly had an important shaping
influence on all of these schools. Then, during the 20th century, scholars at all of these
institutions came to assume, with varying degrees of confidence, that secularization defined
the modern flow of history. Given the fact that religion was becoming
increasingly irrelevant, educators at many independent and mainline institutions
of higher learning began to shift their
attention away from religion, devoting their energies
instead to more relevant topics like the sciences. Some faculty at these
schools, but only a few, began to critique
religion more aggressively as an impediment to
humanity’s full maturation. More recently, dynamic cultural shifts have reversed this trend. The assumption of secularization that defined educational attitudes from the mid to late 20th century has become untenable in light of religion’s continuing power
and visibility in society. And globalization has revealed the need for religious literacy and
interfaith competencies. During the same recent time
period, since the mid-1990s, the quest for meaning,
personal development, and civic engagement
that has always been part of the liberal arts has been reframed in new ways that are
appropriate for all students whether they are traditionally religious, spiritual, or non-religious. Currently, religion is being reintegrated into the curricular and
co-curricular programming of mainline and independent
colleges and universities, institutions which still
enroll more than a quarter of all American college students, in ways that would have been
unthinkable a generation ago. Religion and contemporary
American higher education. While the story I have just
told is especially relevant for independent and mainline
colleges and universities, to some degree this history constitutes the background narrative for all post-secondary
institutions in the United States. Religion was once central
to higher education or one higher learning. It was later partially marginalized, and today religion is being reengaged. What is important to note, however, is that religion being reengaged today is not the same kind of religion that was central to higher education in the early years of the republic. Nor is it the same kind of religion that was pushed partly
out of higher education during the 20th century. In the earliest years of
American higher education, religion was perceived as being basically equivalent to
Protestant Christianity. Later on, religion came
to be defined more broadly in terms of organized religion as a whole, including the full panoply of both western and eastern religions. Finally, in recent years,
the idea of religion has been stretched even further to incorporate a range
of beliefs, practices, and affectivities that extend well beyond the old boundaries of organized religion. Not only are the student populations on today’s campuses religiously diverse, but sometimes individual
students see themselves as being both secular and
spiritual at the same time, and the boundary line
between what is secular and what is spiritual or
religious is not always clear. This new shape of religion on campuses became blatantly obvious
to us about a decade ago when Jake and I were in the
early stages of research for the book that would eventually become No Longer Invisible: Religion
and University Education. When we began doing group
interviews on campuses, we found that those
conversations often faltered because the participants brought so many divergent assumptions about and differing experience of religion and spirituality to the table
that it was almost impossible for them to communicate with each other. Some people wanted religion to be equated solely with whatever occurs at brick-and-mortar places of worship. Others wanted religion
to be whatever it is that is near and dear to
an individual’s heart. By the time we finally got around to writing the texts
of No Longer Invisible, we felt compelled to
develop a new adjective that tried to capture
the emerging complexity of religion on American campuses, and we came up with the term pluraform. By pluraform, we mean a state of religion characterized not only
by religious diversity but also by a blurring of the lines that have been employed in the past in attempting to separate religion from other ways in which human beings grapple with issues of meaning, purpose, and groundedness in their lives. Religion as it exists on American college and university campuses today represents a seamless but
multifaceted spectrum of options ranging from the most
traditional expressions of organized religious faith to the most passionately,
personal and secular ways of learning into reality, authoring oneself and
striving to influence the larger society for the good. Given the reality of the spectrum
of spiritual orientations, the reality of pluraform religion, there is no way to draw a sharp line indicating where religion
starts and stops. I’m quite certain that
some people in the room will disagree with what I have just said and would prefer to
draw a much sharper line between life orientations
that are religious and life orientations that are secular. I appreciate that concern, and I have no desire to turn everything from football to physics into religion. Some things are just what they are and not much can be gained by lumping them with
spirituality or religion. That said, my own experience
talking with students, faculty, administrators, and chaplains is that in campus conversations
about big questions or things that really matter, the line between the supposedly religious and the supposedly secular
is typically blurry if it is discernible at all. In this new era of pluraform religion, colleges and universities
find it increasingly difficult to neatly define religion in ways that allow for policy development. Pluraform religion makes life
challenging for administrators even at public universities where it has become even harder to apply the constitutional notion of the separation of church and state to the fuzzy realities of
religion and spirituality on the ground. In the university classroom itself, professors and students wrestle with whether expressing some
deeply held convictions is allowed in a classroom because those particular
expressions are secular while expressing other
deeply held conviction is not allowed because they are religious. In a continuum that ranges from convictions arising from
traditional religions on one pole and convictions that express
atheistic spirituality on the other, simply
fencing off both poles doesn’t necessarily create
any safe space in the middle. One remedy is to simply banish
all subjects from campus except for narrowly-defined
STEM disciplines, but even then, ethical
issues will sneak back in, and where ethical concerns
are being discussed, spirituality and religion are
usually present implicitly or very close at hand. The reality is that pluraform religion is so fluid that it simply cannot be sequestered from campus life. It will inevitably seep
into the curriculum and co-curriculum in an unexpected ways The same fuzziness also makes it difficult for religious studies scholars to maintain the comfortable distinction that they can teach about religion while avoiding any hint of teaching or nurturing religion itself. If in a classically Tolichian sense, religion is the beliefs,
practices and affections that we hold most dear, and if, as feminists have taught us, it is impossible to fully
bracket personal convictions out of our scholarship and teaching, then the notion that anyone can neutrally teach
students about religion without communicating anything at all about what they themselves
value religiously or spiritually seems untenable. If this is so, it might make sense to give more attention to
issues like transparency and fairness than trying to maintain a classroom facade of neutrality. One of the essays in the higher
ed. section of the handbook deals directly with this issue. Eugene Gallagher’s piece entitled Teaching Religious Studies, Gallagher makes it
clear that conversation, or perhaps more accurately, contestation about the goals and purposes of college courses related to religion has been going on for a century or more. While the topic is not new, the clash between disciplinary objectivity and personal meaning in
the study of religion remains quite intense. Gallagher uses Barbara
Walvoord’s term the great divide to describe the chasms between
religious studies professors who wanna emphasize critical thinking and their students who enroll
in those religion courses out of a yearning for personal growth and spiritual development. Gallagher does not take
sides in this debate and simply notes that this
conversation is far from over. I will be less neutral. While I agree that helping students to view religion objectively, i.e. fairly, based on facts,
non-judgmentally and critically is an essential goal for any college or university class dealing with religion, it seems only commonsensical to recognize that students are going to use the material learned in
religious studies courses as resources for their
own thinking about life and for their development as persons. Somehow, that additional reality needs to be acknowledged and addressed, even if it makes some faculty
members uncomfortable. A new framework for understanding religion’s presence
within higher education. Regardless of whether religion
is dealt with objectively as an external reality or subjectively as a matter of personal
concern for students, the key question at hand is this. How can our colleges and universities engage the topic of religion intelligently given its current fuzzy,
blurry, pluraform state? Many educators simply do
not know where to begin, and our proposal, which is part
of our essay in the handbook is to divide the fuzzy
whole of pluraform religion into three more easily
grasped modes or expressions that we call historic religion, personal religion, and public religion. We’re not claiming any
brilliant new insight with this vocabulary. These three expressions of religion will be familiar to almost anyone who’s engaged in the
academic study of religion, but we have found that naming religion in this particular three-fold manner has been helpful to many educators, especially those who are
not scholars of religion but nonetheless find themselves needing to deal with
religion in their classes or on their campuses. Let me explain this terminology. Religion, in the most
common usage of the term, refers to historic religion, the historic traditions
and institutions of faith that have formal names
like Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and
Hinduism that are expressed in a wide variety of local groups, communities, churches, temples,
and other associations. Religion is more than this
single dimension, however. In a second meaning of the term, religion also refers to personal religion, how each person individually
connects with the transcendent and makes meaning in his or her life. Sometimes this kind of personal religion overlaps significantly
with historic religion, but for many contemporary
Americans, it does not which is what the phrase
spiritual but not religious is meant to signal. Finally, religion has a public dimension, sometimes called civic or civil religion. Public religion refers to the differing and often contentious ways
in which societies seek to articulate their own highest ideals. Public religion varies in
both content and intensity across different societies, but it has always played a major role in the public life of the United States, a nation that has
traditionally seen itself as having a unique and many would say God-given
mission in the world. All three of these expressions, historic, personal, and public, are evident in higher education’s new engagement with religion. This three-fold explanation of
how religion presents itself in both individual lives
and in social contexts can help colleges and universities formulate more nuanced policies related to the places and
role of religion on campuses, and it might even help
bridge the great divide between religious scholarship and students’ personal
spiritual formation. Historic religion needs
to be both accommodated and critically studied, personal religion needs to
be respected but not coddled, and public religion needs to
be brought out of the shadows so that classrooms can become spaces where constructive conversations about public policies
and values can occur. The different chapters in the handbook’s higher education section
provide excellent examples of dealing with the new complexity of religion in higher education, and all three expressions of religion weave their way, in some
way, through most of them. Simply looking at the
chapter titles, however, is enough to indicate that
most of the essays emphasize one expression of religion
more than the other two. The chapter on Evangelical
higher education by Jesse Rine and Catholic higher education by Michael Galligan-Stierle
and Paula Moore clearly put most of their
emphasis on historic religion. In fact, both of these
are mildly apologetic, stressing how much historic religion, in this case two different
strands of Christianity, still has to offer to higher
learning in the 21st century. Historic religion also
provides the main focus for the other two, two other
chapters in the section, Daniel Aleshire’s essay
on theological education which is largely about seminaries and the religious
denominations they serve, and John Schmalzbauer’s
essay on campus ministry with campus ministry still largely defined in terms of the historic
religious organizations that sponsor and fund these positions. Michael Waggoner’s essay on religion and spirituality in
public higher education also falls into this same category. While Waggoner’s essay clearly recognizes and addresses all three facets of religion historic, personal, and public, his essay eventually tilts
toward historic religion. There’s a good reason for this. Public universities are
required to take seriously the separation of church and state. Formulating legal doctrines
about the relationship between higher education and religion necessarily foregrounds organized, institutionalized historic religion, i.e. religion as it is nurtured and maintained by churches. In contrast to these five essays, the two similarly titled essays on religion, spirituality
and college students by Alyssa Rockenbach and Julie Park and religion, spirituality
and college faculty by Jennifer Lindholm
focus on personal religion much more than on historic religion. For Rockenbach and Park, the main concern is with
students as whole individuals and on helping those students
develop their own inner lives. Their conclusion is that any commitment to supporting religious and
spiritual questions on campuses inevitably includes a commitment to grappling with challenging questions and difficult dialogues. Lindholm’s essay on college
and university faculty is similarly oriented toward personal expressions of
religion rather than historic, arguing that faculty members
are not teaching machines but holistic human beings
who hold different values, priorities, overall
purposes and principles that inevitably shape
how they live and teach. What matters for Lindholm is not historic religious doctrines but whether or not a person believes in the sacredness of life, has
an interest in spirituality, believes we are all spiritual beings, and feels connected to a higher power. And like Rockenbach and Park, Lindholm concludes her essay with hope and a challenge that
colleges and universities can become places that help
faculty, staff and students realize their deepest potential. Robert Nash’s essay on
teaching about religion outside of religious studies is somewhat different
from the other essays in that he really does
give careful attention to all three modes of religion, though he does not use the
same terminology that we use. However, Nash’s predominant theme relates to public religion. Nash is interested in religion
because of its social power, because of its enormous
potential to unite and divide, its enormous potential to do good and equally to do great harm. In fact, he argues that some
kind of instruction in religion should be required of everyone
involved in higher education because unattended religious illiteracy throughout the world is worsening and in its wake are the violent atrocities that make daily headlines
in all of the media. For Nash, what matters is
not the specific doctrines or rituals of historic religions, nor is it any one
individual’s personal search for meaning and purpose. For Nash, what matters is the health of the public social life
that we share together in the local communities
and nations where we live and what is at stake in the survival of the planet as a whole. Perhaps because he is so
passionate about the topic, Nash’s essay is also the most practical of all the essays included in the higher education
section of the handbook. He provides specific
pedagogical recommendations for how to create and sustain an ethic of unbounded religious
dialogue in the classroom that eventually, hopefully,
will flow beyond campus borders and will nurture the capacity for civil and constructive
public conversations outside the academy. I hope it is clear from this
brief review of the chapters in the higher education
section of the handbook that virtually all the authors believe that American colleges and universities need to be more proactive in their attempts to reengage religion. Some authors make that case
by examining empirical data about religion’s already existing presence within higher education. Other authors foreground
theoretical arguments about why higher learning could benefit from a more careful and nuanced
engagement with religion. But all of authors agree that
religion is, and should be, a significant concern for
American colleges and universities whether they are church-related or not and whether they are private
institutions or public. I should be equally clear, however, that even if all American
colleges and universities would enthusiastically embrace the goal of dealing more intelligently with religion and spirituality, there would still be no
single normative model for how those schools should go about it. American college and university
campuses vary dramatically in terms of their
religio-secular compositions, flashpoints of interaction,
resource availability, and desired outcomes. Institutional missions also differ and institutional histories deeply shape how religion is perceived
or rendered visible or invisible in specific campus contexts. Each institution will need
to chart its own way forward. Religion, historic, personal,
and public religion, will not, at least in
the foreseeable future, disappear from either American society or American higher education. Colleges and universities of all stripes are going to be required to acknowledge, confront, manage, and perhaps utilize religion’s continuing existence in both their curricular and
co-curricular programming. In my opinion, a helpful
first step in this direction might be for administrators
and policy makers to get up to speed by reading the essays in this section of the handbook. Perhaps the handbook
could be a holiday present for your local administrator. Just a suggestion. Religion is not disappearing
from our campuses, and religion is certainly not disappearing as a global phenomenon. The Oxford Handbook on Religion and American Higher Education does not address all the
questions about religion that could or should be raised, but it does provide a
hugely helpful resource for advancing the conversation. And that was a text from Rhonda Jacobsen. (audience applauding) – We’ll be able to take
questions in just a little bit. I’m mindful about there’s
a very special tone and quality about all of you that is represented in this book. It’s very collegial tone. I remember co-editing the book Whose God Rules where we had Martha Nussbaum and Alan Dershowitz and Robbie Jones kind of intellectually
at it with each other, and that had a very different tone than I think what you
have all created here. And I start by saying that to
say that my closing remarks will be more personal, will be more reflecting
on the collegial process, and even emotional. I see this as a time capsule, in a way, a kind of… A way to frame our collegial lives and these various milestones that we’ve seen each other through. For me, this work begins
when I first became a graduate student at Columbia University, and in taking a class on how adults learn in the higher education department, I was learning all kinds
of wonderful things about the history of higher ed., the religious origins of it, the religious dynamics
of higher ed. today. And in that work, we started
to study faith development, and that’s when was given the book Big Questions and Worthy Dreams by Sharon Parks, and it blew my mind. And it was in part because
of that experience. Something shifted in me, internally, and externally something shifted, as well. 9/11 happened, and being in New York and watching the towers
fall changed many of us and changed many
directions in our careers. For me, I decided to
go to my church and say if you let me teach in your
religious education program, I can use that to pay for seminary, and they said yes. And so I became, I started this
work as a religious educator working at Union Theological Seminary, and in part, it was Sharon’s work that kind of stimulated that kind of collegial kind of calling, that vocation. And so doing that work at
Union Theological Seminary and still at Columbia during that time, I was then exposed to
this think that I just was coming out. I heard he was founding this thing called interfaith youth corps, and who’s this guy, Eboo Patel, and being exposed to his
work was influential. During that time, the
children of this program that I was running, they led this process, and in my ordination as a
Unitarian Universalist minister, the children actually preached
the sermon at these things, and in it, they reference
sort of this importance of having interfaith dialogue. So these types of influences
had a halo effect. By reading one person’s work, it influences one person’s career which influences the
people they’re influencing. And I see this book as a part
of that collegial process. I later went into congregational life, and serving congregations
really taught me about the significance of
clergy to know the law, and that’s when I remember
reading this book about Bible and public schools and about
the second establishment that Steve has written, and that started to influence me. And then that exposed me to Mark’s work on Bible in public schools which then led me to read
about Kent Greenawalt’s work in religion in public schools and the law which led me to learn more
about John Witte’s work and all of that stuff. And then when I finally got the tome that Steve Green and Melissa
Rogers did on the Supreme Court I thought I’ve arrived. I am now an official nerd because this is my greatest possession. And so through that, I realized I had to do a doctorate in law. It was just these collegial influences were just getting at my core. And so I was able to take a
sabbatical from church life while serving a congregation in Philly to go to Harvard Div. School to serve as a research
fellow for a semester. And I had two classes. One was with Diana Eck, and
to see her case study model, to talk about pluralism in action, it was fundamentally just changed my DNA. It was incredible influence. And the second class I had was with a woman you might know by the name of Diane Moore, and she had a TA named Brendan. Brendan recently died, and
we dedicate the book to him. And what’s really, to me,
special about that encounter is seeing him be a teaching assistant to Diane Moore in this time, wrestling with these issues of religion and education and law. I got to see great thinkers
take all these various readings and things that I had been exposed to, to put them into new frames for me and to give new kind of theoretical ways to look at these issues,
and I was changed by that. And it was in that time I was able to meet people like
Kate and Sabrina and Adina and Janet and Erik Owens at these various
conferences, right, the AAR or the American Education
Research Association, AERA, and so on. So those, more and more
the collegial networks, started to influence me as
a person, as a researcher, and in turn, all of this
work started to come to being when I remember being at Harvard
Div. School in the library, and as nerds do, we’d look through and we’re like, “Wait, they
have all of these handbooks, “but where’s our people? “Where’s the one about religion
and American education?” And so I remember going to
Theo at the AAR conference and saying what do you think? We really need this. Look at it, what if we
pulled together these people? They haven’t said, I haven’t
even, we haven’t asked them. And he says, “You’re a
doctoral student, right? “I think you need to find a senior scholar “to take the lead on this.” And that’s when, I have to say that of all
of these different texts, of all of these different opportunities to learn from these scholars, that’s when I got to meet
and work with Mike Waggoner, and I have to say that your
character is my greatest text. The way that you work with people, the way that you build ideas and create a mood of collegiality and mutuality is very, very special, and your character has
been my greatest text. So, with that, I wanna just end by saying I see this as a snapshot. I see this as a time capsule in our collective work together. There are many intellectual triumphs, large and small, in this work, and there are also many different
collegial disappointments, large and small. I mean, one of our regrets is that Bruce Grelle is not in it. I mean, your life’s work
has been extraordinary. To be able to work with
Charles Haynes, Emile Lester, Susan Douglass, and have
their work represented in this has been very special,
and you’re part of that. So all of that’s to say is that this is a snapshot in our,
in my individual life, in our collective lives, and it is a very special opportunity to dedicate it to Brendan
who was a good colleague and friend to us. And let that just be a symbol that none of this work is an errand, that truly the greatest gift
that we can give one another is our very presence, and it’s been an honor to
be in your presence today and in creating this handbook. (audience applauding) So, we’re happy to take your questions. If you’ll please come to one of the mics, we’d be honored to hear about
your insights or inquiries. And of course, of the panelists, if you have questions for each other, we welcome that, as well. – Actually, is this on? Actually, I wanna make a comment because, as John was reading
Rhonda’s piece, it’s… I found it very fascinating. Willamette University is a
historically Methodist college. It’s actually the oldest
university west of the Mississippi, and we have become very secular,
preceding when I was there. I have nothing to do about it, but anyway, a very secular institution. And this thing about
how the role of religion in higher education. I teach over in the
religious studies department as well as in the law school. Most of the students are secular. The reason I’m giving you
all this background is we are going through, I
shouldn’t prejudge this, but very concerted discussions, and I think it’s gonna happen, that we will be merging with
Claremont School of Theology. They’re gonna be moving up to Oregon. And what has been interesting, I’ve been serving on the
president’s committee, Willamette’s president’s committee to try and get this working, and what has been really
interesting is seeing basically a secular faculty. Even though we have a
small religious department, Steve Patterson’s kind of the head of it. But we have a small
religious studies department, but generally a secular university. And so all these secular professors, they’re kind of like, “Why? “Why would you want to
bring on a divinity school? “And is that gonna change
the character of Willamette?” And I was saying I
think it really is gonna change the character of
Willamette, but, I mean, are we gonna become religious now? Are all these guys conservative? What’s gonna happen? And so, it’s been this kind of interesting educational experience, meaning educating some of the secular faculty who are… No one’s here from Claremont, are they? Okay, alright. Somewhat still very
suspicious about this merger. And so, I don’t know,
maybe in another two years, I think this is gonna work. Maybe we should put together a panel just to kind of talk about this
kind of how this worked out because it would be a nice
kind of case study or snapshot about, I think, what
Rhonda was talking about, about the way that religion continues to kind of find a role
in higher education. Anyway, that’s kind of a personal comment, but I was just thinking about
it when you were talking. – Well, that’s fascinating
because Claremont is really one of the places
that is thinking about training multi-faith
chaplains and so forth. And if there’s a kind of a
way of doing divinity school that’s tailor made for the age of the spiritual but not
religious and pluraform religion, it would seem that’s one of them. And yeah, so I mean, I
hope that the faculty that have anxiety realize
Claremont is not Liberty or something like that, that there is diversity. – So, I also want to
acknowledge Ben Marcus who just stood up for his
extraordinary contribution in the book as well. We’re really glad you’re a part of it. And you have a question, apparently. – [Ben] That wasn’t why I stood up. (Nate laughs) So, I have a question. I think the book is absolutely excellent, but I’m sort of curious
what people would wanna add. So what do people think is missing either as an entire section or
a chapter, in terms of topic? Because when I was reading
the book, I was thinking wow, this is so comprehensive, and then that got me thinking about is it actually comprehensive or is there something that’s missing related to religion and
professional education or religion and some other topic? So, it’s just helpful
for me to think about where further research needs to be done or what people are considering. – I’m glad you asked that ’cause
when I was in that library at Harvard looking through stuff, one of the handbooks was
on religion and diversity, and in it, I saw no section
about religion and law. And so I went to the editor and I said hey, Chad, will you
let me add in a chapter to your already published book but do it as an online version? And that’s actually what led
me to meet Theo and so on, and they said yes. So, I hope that you,
whatever the answer is, if there are chapters
that you wanna write, that you wanna put in here, let’s figure out a way to consider it as a part of the online
handbook version of this. But to the panel, are there any thoughts on what might be missing? – Just a personal interest. I’m very interested in historically how schools have taught about
religion, not just the Bible. I focused in on a very narrow subject, but the whole idea of how religion has fit into different curricular areas, especially the formation of
social studies as a field in the early 20th century, how different religious traditions have been treated in social studies, as well as religious literature from a variety of sources
in English Language Arts. So, religion overtly, concretely in the curriculum would be… There will always be more
room for more work on that. – The chapter on campus ministry, which I wrote but it
was based on a project that Betty DeBerg was the PI for, the Nation Study of Campus Ministries, is exclusively about
Christian campus ministries for a lot of practical reasons in terms of the design of the study and the backgrounds of the researchers, but now we realize I think going forward,
if you’re going to study campus ministry in the United States and student religious expression, that as Rhonda Jacobsen
pointed out, that it’s really, there are so many different forms now and with interfaith youth corps and those conversations
going on in campus, I think. Which is in the volume, but
not in a different place. Eboo Patel is in the volume, but I think that just the fecundity of American student religious
life is continuing to unfold. – I think I’d like to
see something on religion and socioeconomic diversity on campuses. So, my time at Vassar has corresponded to sort of
the rapidly increasing commitment to need-blind
and socioeconomic diversity, and where Vassar, I think
we still continually rank number one in terms of the least religious campus in America. I’m finding that as the student body gets more socioeconomically diverse, that we’re getting students who are freer in identifying themselves as religious. And I think this, the
commitment to sort of higher education at least and economic justice and fairness is something that could be thought through in terms of religion. – One additional thought I had was, I mean, the book covers so much ground, and of course, one can’t
cover everything on religion. It’s so expansive, but Jewish theological
education, these early forms, new professionalization of Islamic theological
education, imam training, that are, they’re specifically
North American forms, other religious traditions, so the discussion of
theological education, per say. There’s room there for some more, as well. – Great, well that would
just give us more opportunity to expand our collegial
circles more and more, to have the opportunity
to learn from one another. Please stay in touch, and we look forward to working
with you all in the future. Take care.
(audience applauding)

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