“...it might well be said that one’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion.”

United States Supreme Court Justices Clark and Goldberg
in Abingdon v. Schempp

Welcome

The Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania offers a wide range of courses, undergraduate Majors and Minors, and a renowned PhD program. With particular strengths in the study of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and the African-American religious experience, it emphasizes historical and critical approaches, as well as interdisciplinary exploration within and beyond Religious Studies.

 

Chair of the Department: Justin McDaniel
Graduate Chair: Annette Yoshiko Reed
Undergraduate Chair: Justin McDaniel

 

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Featured News

Architects of Buddhist Leisure: Socially Disengaged Buddhism in Asia's Museum, Monuments, and Amusement Parks

Professor Justin McDaniel's latest book, Architects of Buddhist Leisure: Socially Disengaged Buddhism in Asia's Museum, Monuments, and Amusement Parks (University of Hawaii Press, 2017) will be the subject of a panel: Studying Sites of Religious Leisure: A Roundtable Discussion on Justin McDaniel’s Architects of Buddhist Leisure.

The Future of Religious Minorities in the Era of Trump

"There have been certain periods when American religious communities have been especially vulnerable to government harassment and persecution—during World War I, when religiously motivated conscientious objectors were subject to suspicion and arrest, and the Cold War era, when the FBI infiltrated or sought to discredit left-leaning religious leaders and communities it took to be puppets of a sinister foe. The current political climate warrants urgent concern that America may be on the verge of adding another chapter to this shameful history of religious persecution (Johnson & Weitzman, 2016)."

Steve Weitzman's upcoming Book- The FBI & Religion

Years after 9/11, America is still struggling with how to balance the demands of national security with its commitment to religious liberty, and the FBI has been at the front lines of this struggle.  The FBI and Religion is the first attempt to tell the story of the FBI's interaction with religion from its beginnings in 1908 through the Cold War, the Civil Rights movement, the "cult wars" of the late Twentieth Century, and the counter-terrorism efforts of the Twenty-First century. 

Professor Justin McDaniel Advises President Obama

President Obama recently became the first sitting U.S. President to visit the country of Laos. Professor Justin McDaniel advised President Obama on his speech in Laos and provided his team with information about Lao literature, religion, culture, food, and education.

 

Congratulations to 2016 RELS Graduate Julia Hintlian!

Julia Hintlian, who graduated from Penn in May with a major in Religious Studies, has recently placed second in the national Theta Alpha Kappa Graduate Fellowship Competition.