Religion Matters Book:

RES 101 is designed to help you achieve some of the learning goals of the College Core Curriculum. Two
of those learning goals concern learning the basics of the religions we study. We hope that students who
have taken the course can:

● describe and assess major values, beliefs, and practices proposed by the world religions and
how they have developed, changed, and influenced one another over time.

● engage empathetically and critically with patterns of values, beliefs, and practices across world
religions and spiritualities that contribute to a life of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment.

There’s another pair of goals for the course that address a different concern of the Core Curriculum:
learning about the social justice issues that accompany living in our modern, changing, globalized,
diverse world. According to these learning goals, students who have taken this course can:

● describe and assess the impact of pluralism, diversity, equity, and inclusion as it plays out across
cultural and religious contexts.

● recognize and critically analyze stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, and oppression across
religious contexts.

Your task.

Our final exam will focus on this second pair of learning goals. The general question to address in this
assignment is, In what ways does religion exacerbate or ameliorate the problems of social justice in our
diverse world? According to Stephen Prothero, “Practitioners of every religion wrestle with elements in
their tradition that have been used to justify evil, and then try to bend those elements back toward the
good” (Prothero, p. 334). This comment demonstrates what we have seen throughout the semester:
religious traditions express all the usual human tendencies toward injustice, but also possess the
inspiration and resources with which to do better.

More specifically . . .

Please compose a six-page (approximately) paper in which you draw from our course sources to
demonstrate the complex intersection of religion with social issues such racism, nationalism, violence,
sex and gender equity, wealth and poverty, environmental destruction, religious freedom, or the rights
of minority groups. Your paper should focus on three separate examples of these intersections. The
three examples should be drawn from three different religions and make ample references to course
sources (the textbook or assigned Moodle readings). The social issue may be the same across your three
examples, or it may differ from case to case. In each case, explain both how the religious community has
been affected by, or contributes to, the problem, and how it might also “bend back toward the good.” If,
at the end of your paper, you have any general observations or conclusions to offer, please do so!


Your three examples of religions intersecting with social justice issues should be based upon course
readings. Note that each chapter of Religion Matters, our textbook, ends with a “Contem

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