Things my students want to learn about American religion

A couple of days ago I shared a synthesis of the some sixty plus answers I received to the question ‘What do you want to learn about the New Testament?’ from my students taking that course. Today, I share the responses from the students taking my ‘Religion in the United States’ class. There’s about eighteen of them (far fewer students than my four blocks of New Testament). I asked them, ‘What do you want to learn about American religion?’ Here’s the collection:

  1. A few were interested in the diversity of religion in this country. One specifically wanted a percentage breakdown, Pew Forum-style.
  2. A couple mentioned being interested in the intersection between religion and politics.
  3. There’s some interest in the varying definitions of ‘religion’ held by many Americans. (This is the heart of the course, in my opinion.)
  4. By far (and it may have been a sort of snowball, Lemming-like thing since I was asking for students to say their answers aloud) my students were interested in fringe groups or ‘cults’. (Yes, I have a class dedicated to whether there’s a real difference between a ‘cult’ and a ‘religion’.) Specifically, a few named Scientology.

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