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Whitney Belprez ACF Abstract FY11

"Religious Illiteracy"

Conference Name: Society for the Scientific Study of Religion 2010 Annual Meeting

The United States is increasingly becoming a global crossroads of religious traditions that impact the culture, politics, and education of its citizens. As religious scholar Stephen Prothero states, this creates "a major civic problem," in America, which is one of the most religious nations in the world, yet is shockingly illiterate about the world's religions. My intention in this paper is to explore the growing problem of religious illiteracy, and argue that religion should be taught in public high schools and universities in the discipline of Religious Studies. I also explain the foundational interdisciplinary approach used in Religious Studies, and why this is the best way to teach religion to secular students.  Recent scholarly research as well as current issues and discussions regarding religion inform my argument.