Why Study Religion

Nicholas Kristof, an op ed columnist for the New York Times, makes a strong case for studying the humanities and religion if we want students to understand the world around us and to think deeply about it.

He reminds us of Stephen Prothero’s finding that “Americans are both deeply religious and profoundly ignorant about religion.”  And he asks  a number of important questions:

  • “How can one understand Afghanistan without some knowledge of Islam?”
  • “How can one understand America without any intellectual curiosity about Evangelicals?”
  • “Can one understand the world if one is oblivious to the stunning rise of Pentecostals at home and abroad?”

“Religion,”  Kristof notes, “may not be as indispensable, but the humanities should be a part of our repertory. They may not enrich our wallets, but they do enrich our lives. They civilize us. They provide context.”

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