"For much of the twentieth century, most American intellectuals dreamed of a public square empty of religious actors and religious arguments... But then came the deluge: the election of Jimmy Carter, the Iranian Revolution, the rise of the Moral Majority, the Reagan Revolution, 9/11, and the faith-based presidential election of 2004.... Evidence of the public power of religion is overwhelming, particuarly in the United States."

- Stephen Prothero, Religious Literacy (2007)


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

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.

RELS Fall 2016 Courses

Looking for interesting courses for the fall? Check out our RELS undergraduate offerings -- including many that fulfill College sector and foundational approaches requirements.