Studying
Religion in
Culture


Religious Studies at a state university is often misunderstood. Simply stated, we study about various religions. Or, to put it another way, we study religions in a way that seeks to understand them in a fair and sensitive manner. This means we do not "teach religion" from a faith perspective; that is, students are not taught to be "religious." While the law prohibits confessional religious instruction in a state university, it encourages the academic study of religion. The U.S. Supreme Court in a 1963 decision said, "One's education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization." Therefore, religious studies professors are not rabbis, priests, ministers, etc., who emphasize spirituality and religious ritual and dogma. Rather, they are educators like other professors in the university. They conduct their classes in a fashion similar to classes in history, philosophy, sociology, and similar academic disciplines, enjoying the same rights and responsibilities of religious freedom as do all members of the Missouri State faculty as well as all citizens of the United States. They are prohibited from imposing their faith on others in the classroom but are free to practice, or not practice, religion according to the dictates of their consciences outside the classroom.

Students who enroll in religious studies courses can be certain that they are free to bring any faith commitment to these courses and that they will be able to interact freely with different interpretations people have given to religious persons and their teachings. Because faculty are dedicated to teaching excellence, students find that they are given individual attention.

Return to Main Menu