July 22, 2015

In Memoriam: Remembering Frank Flinn

The Religious Studies Program warmly remembers Frank Flinn, PhD, who passed away on July 4th, 2015 at the age of 76.  Flinn, an adjunct professor of religious studies at Washington University in St. Louis since 1990, was a very popular teacher with a special gift for engaging students and getting them to ask tough questions. He was a frequent commentator on religious issues in the news and often called upon to testify in court cases involving the legal rights of controversial religious groups, including the Church of Scientology and the Texas-based Branch Davidians of David Koresh. A celebration of Flinn’s life will be held Sunday, Aug. 9, at the Regional Arts Commission (RAC), 6128 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, Mo., 63112. Friends and family will gather from 1-5 p.m., with a 3 p.m. memorial in the RAC’s main auditorium. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Nature Conservancy or Forest Park Forever.
The Washington University flag on campus will be lowered to half-staff in Dr. Flinn's memory from Tuesday morning, July 22 through Thursday afternoon, July 23.
Obituary of Frank K. Flinn in the Washington University Record

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

September 16, 2015 - 4:00pm

Violent Religion in China’s Golden Age

Dr. Geoffrey Goble
Busch Hall, room 18

Dr. Geoffrey Goble is the Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in East Asian Religions at Washington University in St. Louis.

February 25, 2016

Weltin Lecture: Collaboration, Corruption, and Identity in the Wake of Persecution: Religious Conflict and Its Legacy

Prof. Elizabeth Digeser

In this lecture, Digeser will compare the division of North African Christians into two camps after Diocletian’s persecution (303 CE) with two modern examples. These case studies suggest that communities whose members perform multiple identities before persecution may split into hostile camps in the aftermath, if one side perceives the other as somehow compromised, as collaborating or corrupt.