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.