One of the goals of this course is to understand the impact of World Religions on the United States. Two resources may help you reflect on the questions of religion and diversity. The first is an interview with Dr. Diana Eck of Harvard University. For several years, Dr. Eck has done extensive research on the increasingly diverse religious American landscape. Her reflections on this research are thought-provoking. View the interview with Dr. Eck by following one of the links below. (The picture quality is not very important. The audio is the most important part of this clip). You will need RealPlayer to view this video clip.
Low Bandwidth America's Religious Diversity
High Bandwidth: America's Religious Diversity
The second resource is a page from the Adherents.com Web site. Visit the Adherents.com Web site.
This page gives a summary of the religious diversity within the United States. You should notice that there are really two types of diversity. On the one hand, there is a diversity of Religions (organized or not). On the other hand, there is a diversity within each religion. For example, although most Americans identify themselves as Christians, there is a tremendous variety and diversity within Christianity itself. Work through the page, paying close attention to the statistics – not just what percentage is identified with a particular religious tradition, but which religious traditions are growing the most rapidly. Be prepared to discuss the following points.
1. What statistics did you find most surprising?
2. Considering the religious diversity reflected by these statistics, what can we say about some of the challenges we face in studying religion?
3. What did you find most interesting in the interview with Diana Eck? Does she make statements with which you agree or disagree?
Although we will spend some time discussing this information in class, you should write a brief response paper that summarizes your findings and reflections on the information presented by these two resources. You will need to turn this paper in to get full credit (class participation) for this assignment.