October 2, 2015

Daniel Bornstein discusses the Pope's recent visit and the long roots of the papal push for social justice

“Pope Francis’ stance on controversial modern issues, such as climate change, poverty, immigration and the prison system, reflects teachings at the very core of the Catholic Church,” said Daniel E. Bornstein, PhD, the Stella K. Darrow Professor of Catholic Studies at Washington University.  “Those who criticize him for being too progressive, or even a left-leaning socialist, are forgetting that the social justice principles he preaches are firmly based in a longstanding Catholic tradition known as ‘works of mercy.’ If anything, his stance on many modern issues reflects a return to simple teachings that have guided the Catholic Church for centuries.” 
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September 10, 2015

Why Study Religious Studies?

John Kerry - "We ignore the global impact of religion at our peril"

In a recent article titled "Religion and Diplomacy," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry states:

"I often say that if I headed back to college today, I would major in comparative religions rather than political science. That is because religious actors and institutions are playing an influential role in every region of the world and on nearly every issue central to U.S. foreign policy."

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About Religious Studies

Religion permeates everything—being informed about it endows one with deeper insight regarding artistic, business, and international phenomena. People who are religiously literate are in a better position to examine and respond to individual, interpersonal, and political dynamics—from human development, the fine arts and identity studies to history, science, urban planning, public policy and health care. The ability to navigate and recognize the perspective and influence of world religions can inform collaborations, organizational management, and responses to current issues. It is a key that empowers people in addressing circumstances from increasingly diverse neighborhoods and workplaces to national and world events.

M. R. Diamond, “Religious Literacy Across the Disciplines,” 2011


Few will contest the fact that, despite predictions to the contrary, religion continues to play a central role in contemporary culture, politics, identity, and conflict in every part of the globe. At the same time, the fast-moving forces of globalization, migration, and technology continue to bring diverse religious communities in closer proximity, often creating new religious communities in the process. As a result, it has become ever more essential for people living in today’s world to be “religiously literate.”


The Religious Studies Program at Washington University is designed to provide students with the opportunity to not only acquire basic knowledge of the beliefs and practices of the major world religions, but also learn how to engage in a critical appraisal of both their historic and their contemporary significance. ...Click here to read more

Upcoming Events

October 13, 2015 - 5:30pm

Across Legal Lines: Jews and Muslims in Modern Morocco

Prof. Jessica Maya Marglin
Busch Hall, room 18

This talk explores how Jews navigated the various legal institutions that coexisted in pre-colonial Morocco and during the first decades of colonial rule. I follow Jews (especially one family, the Assarrafs from Fez) through Jewish, Islamic, and European consular courts in order to demonstrate the ways in which law acted as a vector of integration among Jews and Muslims.

October 20, 2015 - 7:00pm

Mylonas Lecture, "Visualizing the Gods in Ancient Macedonia"

Prof. Olga Palagia
Saint Louis Art Museum, Farrell Auditorium

One of the most fascinating aspects of ancient Macedonia is its religion. The gods and goddesses that the Macedonians worshiped provide a unique perspective into their culture and visual arts.