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A Challenge for the Academic Study of Religion: No Such Thing as ‘Sacred’ Cows, Right?

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Teaching religion in public education can benefit from the discourse in Religious Studies (RS) around the problem/problem of defining religion. This is nowhere truer than in community college (CC). However, the notion that the term ‘religion’ is of limited value (represented here as problem) is of not-much-use in CC due to religion’s perceptible nature. It is evident to citizens that there is ‘religion’, and while not-much-clear about it by way of RS definitions, it is an identifiable and operative category. I cite the incident of Frank Roque the “9/11 Revenge Killer” to show that there is such a category in the minds of the public and utilize Stark and Bainbridge’s A Theory of Religion to focus the discourse beyond the problem to the pedagogic and heuristic potentials of the problem for educators and ultimately citizens. The challenge for RS is to find ways for its analyses of religions to have a better effect in society. Otherwise, the category will be shaped by other forces as revealed in the words of the murderer regarding his Sikh victim, “I just viewed them all as just hateful Muslims.”

Affiliations: 1: Mesa Community College Mesa, Arizona Bgadsby@mesacc.edu

10.1163/15700682-12341406
/content/journals/10.1163/15700682-12341406
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1. bbc News 2001"us ‘Revenge Attacks’ Alarm India" 17 September http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1548524.stm
2. bbc News 2003"us 9/11 Revenge Killer Convicted" 1 October http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3154170.stm
3. Cleary Thomas 1994 The Wisdom of the Prophet: Sayings of Muhammad, Selections from the Hadiths Boston Shambhala
4. Fitzgerald Timothy 2000 The Ideology of Religious Studies New York Oxford University Press
5. Gadsby Blair A. 2006"Teaching Religion(s) in the Community College: Students Can Handle Theory Early" Bulletin of the Council of Societies for the Study of ReligionVol 35 4 92 95
6. Hadden Jeffrey K. 1996"Foreword" Stark Rodney, Bainbridge William Sims A Theory of Religion New Brunswick, NJ Rutgers University Press 5 8
7. Lease Gary 1997"Rationality and Evidence: The Study of Religion as a Taxonomy of Human Natural History" Jensen Jeppe Sinding, Martin Luther H. Rationality and the Study of Religion Aarhus, Denmark Aarhus University Press 136 144
8. Mahoney Emily 2015"Mesa Wife Gets 3.5 Years for Running Over Husband After ‘12 Election" Arizona Republic May 21 http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/mesa/2015/05/21/mesa-woman-ran-over-husband-abrk/27710635/ accessed March 21, 2017
9. McCutcheon Russell T. 1997 Manufacturing Religion: The Discourse on Sui Generis Religion and the Politics of Nostalgia New York Oxford University Press
10. Netter Sarah 2009"‘Westernized’ Daughter Dies After Being Run Over by Father" ABC News November 3 http://abcnews.go.com/WN/US/westernized-muslim-daughter-dies-run-father/story?id=8983198 accessed March 21, 2017
11. Prothero Steve 2001"Intolerance Deeply Rooted in Ignorance of Religions" Arizona Republic September 18
12. Roque Frank 2006"Taken from transcript notes of author telephone interview with federal Death Row inmate" Arizona Department of Corrections December 21 unpublished
13. Smart Ninian 1973 The Science of Religion and the Sociology of Knowledge Princeton, NJ Princeton University Press
14. Smart Ninian 1987 Religion and the Western Mind Albany State University of New York Press [Crossref]
15. Smart Ninian 1991a"Teaching Religion and Religions: The World Religions Course" Juergensmeyer Mark Teaching the Introductory Course in Religious Studies: A Sourcebook Atlanta Scholars Press 7 14 Reprinted in John P. Burris, ed., Reflections in the Mirror of Nature: Ninian Smart, New York: St. Martin’s, pp. 188-196
16. Smart Ninian 1991b"The Introductory Course: A Balanced Approach" Juergensmeyer Mark Teaching the Introductory Course in Religious Studies: A Sourcebook Atlanta Scholars Press 203 208
17. Smith Jonathan Z. 1982 Imagining Religion: From Babylon to Jonestown Chicago University of Chicago Press
18. Stark Rodney, Bainbridge William Sims 1987 A Theory of Religion. Toronto Studies in ReligionVol vol. 2 Wiebe Donald New Brunswick, New Jersey Rutgers University Press 1996
19. Wiebe Donald 1997"Review of Rodney Stark and Williams Sims Bainbridge.""A Theory of Religion" Review of Religious ResearchVol 38 4 378 380 [Crossref]
20. Wiebe Donald 2005"The Politics of Wishful Thinking? Disentangling the Role of the Scholar-Scientist from that of the Public Intellectual in the Modern Academic Study of Religion" TemenosVol 41 1 7 38
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2017-11-16
2017-11-20

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