P.E. Church Net

30th October 2000 

Academia has a born-again interest in religion

I thought this report both interesting and relevant.
David MacG.

Academia has a born-again interest in religion, a subject scholars had shelved for years, the Los Angeles Times reported. Universities long have dismissed religion as unnecessary in a modern secular society, but scholars are beginning to see its "powerful role in shaping both private lives and the public culture," according to the Times.

...The increase in religious studies is not limited to seminaries, the newspaper reported. Researchers in political science, education, criminal justice, economics, communication, urban studies, business, and international relations are finding that religion can apply to serious scholarship and practical problem-solving.

...Sociologists especially are re-examining religion, investigating how people's personal faith or spirituality relates to everything from race relations to youth delinquency to immigrant acclimation to environmental activism, the Times reported.

...America's interest in faith-based public initiatives also fuels religious research, the newspaper reported. Religion's often positive impact on social problems is easing resistance to lowering the wall between federal funding and church involvement, the Times reported. Policymakers increasingly support subsidies for religious programs that combat hunger, poverty, illiteracy, drug abuse, homelessness, and poor health care.

...Academia has had "a phobia about religion, but the corner has been turned," Don Miller, who heads the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California, told the Times. The center is seen as a leader in the transition, the Times reported. It regularly gathers scholars, faith leaders, and public policymakers to work together to help solve pressing social problems. "We've started to legitimize the study of religion and help people acknowledge [that] it's a phenomenon people need to pay attention to," Miller said, not "something to be debunked and discarded."

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