Religions have functioned throughout human history to inspire and justify the full range of agency from the heinous to the heroic.
Their influences remain potent at the dawn of the 21st century in spite of modern predictions that religious influences would steadily decline in concert with the rise of secular democracies and advances in science. Understanding these complex religious influences is a critical dimension of understanding modern human affairs. In spite of this awareness, there remains a widespread illiteracy about religion that spans the globe. There are many consequences of this illiteracy, but the most urgent is that it fuels conflict and antagonisms and hinders cooperative endeavors in all arenas of human experience.
It has long been assumed that religion is in decline in the West: however it continues to have an important yet contested role in individual lives and in society at large. Furthermore half a century or so in which religion and belief were barely talked about in public has resulted in a pressing lack of religious literacy, leaving many ill-equipped to engage with religion and belief when they encounter them in daily life – in relationships, law, media, the professions, business and politics, among others.
The Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School
This is a new initiative that builds upon both of these legacies and focuses on how to understand the roles that religions play in human experience across political, economic, and cultural spheres with a special focus on contemporary issues related to conflict and peace.
Policy Press at the University of Bristol - Religious literacy in policy and practice