Religious Literacy

A number of institutions have begun efforts aimed at increasing the ability of people to understand, analyze and interact with the religions of the world. Their websites may provide you with an understanding of just what Religious Literacy is.

The Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project

  • The US Religious Landscape Survey provides maps, comparisons and profiles of different religious groups. The survey topics include views on political issues, beliefs and practices.
  • You can also explore religion and public life in the Americas, Asia & the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East & North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa on this site.
  • Sign up to get the Pew Research Religion Newsletter on email to keep up with breaking news and new reports.

The Foundation for Religious Literacy emphasizes “religious values in a business context.” A number of their lectures are available for viewing at BART (Business across Religious Traditions)

Beliefs

The American Religious Data Archive

  • Survey data on beliefs, behaviors and political/moral views. This can be broken down by denomination, age and geographic location in most cases.
  • Profiles of Christian denominations
  • Profiles of religion in other countries, including the government interaction with religious bodies

The Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project

  • The US Religious Landscape Survey provides maps, comparisons and profiles of different religious groups. The survey topics include views on political issues, beliefs and practices.

Creeds & confessions of faith in the Christian tradition, by Jaroslav Pelikan. New Haven : Yale University Press, 2003. (238 P36C v.1-5)

The encyclopedia of American Religions, by Gordon Melton. Detroit : Gale Research, 1988-1994. (REF 291.20973 EN1M)

Search the library catalog by the name of the religion or denomination to find books that provide more depth.

  • Buddhism
  • Christianity
    • Methodism
    • Catholicism
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Judaism

Worship & Religious Practices

The American Religious Data Archive

  • YouTube videos. ARDA has video footage of typical worship services from a number of different religions, traditions, and styles.
  • Visitor’s Guide and advice on what you might want to observe on a visit – including looking at the neighborhood and the architecture of the building and grounds before you enter

How to be a Perfect Stranger, by Arthur J Magida. Woodstock, VT : Jewish Lights, 1996-1997. (291.38 M27H)

The Long Search (DVD) (291 L85D), housed in the multimedia section of the library, near the reference desk)

  • A set of videos showing religious practices in worship and celebrations. Includes information on beliefs and the sacred texts.

Sacred Writings

Many of the religions you will be studying have more than one sacred text. To find additional books, search the library catalog for [the name of the religion] and “SACRED BOOKS,” for example, HINDUISM – SACRED BOOKS. Many of these writings are also widely available online both as ebooks you can find in the library catalog and on the internet.

  • Bible.
    • The library has many different versions of the Bible and books about the Bible between 220 and 229. Bible texts are also widely available online.
    • The Anchor Bible Dictionary (REF 220.3 F87A) is an excellent reference for finding information on concepts, people and places from the Bible
  • Koran
    • The text of the Koran (297.122 K84CD)
    • The Cambridge companion to the Qur’an, by Jane Dammen McAuliffe. Cambridge (UK) and New York : Cambridge University Press, 2006. (297.12 C14D)
  • Torah (may refer to the Pentateuch or rough equivalent of the Old Testament)
    • The Baker Library has several translations of the Torah in the 222’s
    • Biblical literacy : the most important people, events, and ideas of the Hebrew Bible, by Joseph Telushkin. New York : William Morrow, 1997 (221.61 T23B)
  • Hindu sacred writings – there are several sacred texts
    • Bhagavad-gita
      • There are several translations at 294.5924
    • The Upanishads
      • Translations are shelved at 294.1
  • Buddhist sacred writings – there are a number of sacred texts
    • Buddhist texts through the ages, by Edward Conze. Boston : Shambhala, 1990. (294.38 C76B) - An anthology of a number of Buddhist texts

Contemporary Issues

PBS Religion & Ethics Newsweekly provides videos and transcripts from their television show of the same name. You can follow them on facebook and twitter to keep up on the latest news.

Pew Religion & Public Life lists a number of topics, such as religion and ethnicity, media, government or science for which they have articles. They also have a newsletter you can sign up for.