The Academic Study of Religion
- The academic study of religion is not concerned with evaluating truth claims. The scholar of religion seeks
not to discover what is religiously true or false, but to understand the truth claims made by particular religious
- The scholar seeks to understand those truth claims not in order to evaluate their validity, but to understand
how those claims influence the lives, beliefs, and practices of their adherents.
- The scholar of religion is interested in the interrelationship between ideology and practice. It is important
to understand that, in some areas of religious practice, ideology need not be clearly articulated (or indeed, even
present at all). Ideology does not always explain nor is the "real meaning" of ritual practices.
- It is not necessary for the scholar to seek one common "essence" of a tradition. Religious traditions
claiming the same source (i.e., Christianity) may make competing truth claims, employ different religious practices,
and exclude other groups from membership. The scholar looks for the characteristics each group displays and prioritizes,
and seeks to understand how each group understands itself and its tradition. Religious traditions seldom have one
point of origin, and the scholar seeks instead to discover many (often conflicting) strands of origin.