Our Mission: To increase awareness and appreciation of each other in our multi-faith society.
Our Vision: With greater awareness and appreciation of each other, the multi-faith character of our society can increase human understanding and the beauty of contemporary life.
Membership shall be unrestricted by consideration of nationality, race, creed, religion, sexual orientation, color, gender, age or disability.
THE RELIGION AND SOCIETY CENTER fosters the exploration and development of religiously-based social teachings as they can apply to today’s multi-cultural and multi-faith society.
Towards that end, THE RELIGION AND SOCIETY CENTER strives to institutionalize interfaith dialogue so as to explore:
– religious teachings, and assumptions as to their authority, about the good society and human nature;
– religiously-rooted ritual, and how these might be experienced as spiritual practice that can inform a social vision, motivate spiritual practitioners to engage in social issues, and sustain individuals and groups in their efforts to improve society;
– questions of religious particularism and universalism – not to elliminate the importance of distinctions and diversity – but to illuminate the importance of the tapestry of teaching that the many religious traditions of the world can bring to each others’ understanding of the good society and human nature.
THE RELIGION AND SOCIETY CENTER has four primary areas of exploration:
- Social Values
- Religious Authority
- Religious Practice
- Interfaith Dialogue
American society is going through its greatest reevaluation of social values since the Great Depression. Many of those values under consideration are being voiced in religious terms. Religious traditions do have much wisdom to offer in the realm of social values. Yet, in many cases, the religious teachings brought into the societal discussion reflect only a narrow application of teachings from a small number of traditions present in the society. At times religion is used as a tool to support specific, pre-established social agendas rather than as a source of guidance for developing social thought.
At other times, religious perspectives are poorly presented because American society is religiously extremely diverse. A great number of religious traditions coexist within American society. Attempts to apply the social wisdom found in religious traditions may sometimes result in favoring the teachings of some traditions over others. Any attempts to favor by law the social teachings of some religious traditions over other traditions can present a challenge to religious liberty. But historically and legally, American society is committed to protecting freedom of religious expression. As a result, in an effort to avoid the challenges to religious liberty that often accompany the application of religious concepts to social issues, some advocate excluding the insights of religion altogether from the public discussion.
The Religion and Society Center is built on the assertion that somewhere between coercion and irrelevance there is a proper and useful role for religion in society. The Center seeks to explore and develop that role.
What is the nature of religious authority? Why does it make a difference to us what religious traditions teach? When a religious text tells us something, how closely or literally should that teaching be translated into social practice? When we question particular traditional religious social teachings, how do we derive guidance from religious traditions even as we simultaneously challenge them?
Is there a relationship between religious devotional teachings, focused on the internal spiritual life of individual human beings, and the social teachings of religious traditions? Does personal religious practice affect an individual’s state of mind, which then affects the society that individual is helping to create? Does the society we live in affect an individual’s state ofmind, which then returns to affect the society we live in? If so, how might religious practice affect this interaction?
Contemporary society is a multi-faith and multi-cultural society. What are the differences in social teachings suggested by various religious traditions? How can the teachings of each religious tradition take the teachings of other traditions into account? How can religious teachings be applied to society when there are so many different religious traditions existing in that society?