December 21, 2016

Contrary to Popular Belief: Recovering the Grassroots History of American Atheism

The American Historical Association reviews Prof. Leigh Schmidt's (Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor with the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics) new book, "Village Atheists: How America’s Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation." Read the article here.

December 1, 2016

Religious film series spotlights covert religious themes in films

From Student Life

The Religious Studies program created the film series this semester as a way to build community, both within the program and beyond. The series also offers students a chance to apply the skills they learn in Religious Studies courses to films in popular culture, whose themes aren’t always obviously religious. ...Read the article here

November 28, 2016

Prof. Lerone Martin discusses ‘phonograph religion’

Prof. Lerone Martin, Assistant Professor with the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, discusses his research and book “Preaching on Wax,” chronicling how African-American preachers reached a wide audience through records in the 1920s and ’30s, for a “Research on Religion” podcast. Click here to listen to the podcast.

About Religious Studies


…if I headed back to college today, I would major in comparative religions rather than political science.

John Kerry, “Religion and Diplomacy


Religion is a major source of inspiration, meaning, and controversy in human societies. Fast-moving forces of globalization, migration, and technology continue to bring diverse communities into closer proximity, often creating new religious forms in the process. The Religious Studies Program at Washington University gives students the opportunity to learn about diverse religions as well as to study past and current events with a critical but open mind.


One does not have to be religious in order to study religion! Religious Studies covers subjects as diverse as U.S. politics, Beyoncé, the Middle East, atheism, Tolstoy, Gandhi, Black Lives Matter, climate change, and Buddhist philosophies. The diversity of topics that can be covered in Religious Studies is huge and is best studied in all its interdisciplinary complexity. As such, courses offered by our program are taught by faculty in a variety of disciplines and areas, including: The Danforth Center on Religion and Politics; Anthropology; Classics; East Asian Languages and Cultures; English; History; Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Studies; and Political Science.


A major in Religious Studies will help you understand and appreciate the complex ways in which religious traditions inform human thought and behavior. A double major or a minor will also enhance a broad range of studies from politics and law to business and medicine. So whether you are interested in preparing for the advanced academic study of religion, seeking to complement another area of study, or simply feel the need to acquire a greater knowledge of religions, a major or minor in Religious Studies is excellent preparation for living and working in a pluralistic society and global culture.

Upcoming Events

February 1, 2017 - 5:00pm

The Art and Politics of African American Faith

Prof. Josef Sorett
Umrath Lounge

This talk will explore the terrain of presumably “secular” African American literature and popular music–drawing from episodes across the 20th century to the contemporary moment–as a novel means for engaging black faith traditions and to invite new conversations about American religion and politics.

Josef Sorett is an Associate Professor of Religion and African-American Studies at Columbia University, where he also directs the Center on African-American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice (CARSS).

Please RSVP to or (314) 935-9345. Your RSVP will ensure you receive event updates and a parking pass.

February 3, 2017 - 10:00am to 12:00pm

Drop in for Coffee Hour

Busch Hall, room 109

Religious Studies invites you to drop in for coffee. Stop by for a cup of coffee/tea fresh brewed in the office Keurig, grab a snack, and to visit with faculty and students.

No RSVPs needed. Please feel free to stop in any time between 10-12 and stay as long (or as short) as your schedule allows.

February 7, 2017 - 7:00pm

Spring Film Series: Princess Mononoke

Busch Hall, room 18

2017 is the 20th anniversary of Princess Mononoke!

Inflicted with a deadly curse, a young warrior named Ashitaka sets out for the forests of the west in search of the cure that will save his life. Once there, he becomes inextricably entangled in a bitter battle that matches Lady Eboshi and a proud clan of humans against the forest's animal gods, who are led by the brave Princess Mononoke, a young woman raised by wolves!

Watch the trailer at:

Light refreshments provided. A conversation about the film will follow the showing. For questions please contact Dr. Tobias Zuern.