News

Professor Jalane Schmidt responds to the president's statements on last weekend's rally in Charlottesville. Watch here

Read "At Ground Zero in Charlottesville: Time to Stop Making Compromises with Racism" by Professor Karl Shuve.

An Open Letter from the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia in Response to the Events of August 11th and 12th

The Department of Religious Studies denounces the violence and terror perpetrated by the gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA on August 11th and 12th, 2017. As a faculty, we are particularly horrified that our University Grounds were used to promote this agenda and that students, who were exercising their constitutionally protected right to protest, were physically attacked a short distance from their dormitories.

The Department of Religious Studies rejects the white supremacist ideology of intolerance and its practice of hateful speech, as well as the violence it engenders. We stand in solidarity with the victims of these events and with those who courageously resisted the hate groups and their virulent messages; we stand with the community of Charlottesville and with all those at whom hate continues to be directed. We cherish the diversity of our student body and commit ourselves to supporting students who are targeted by hate groups. We promise to be available to students who seek support from us, even as we actively develop new initiatives to support them.

As a department, we advocate for no single religious faith or political point of view. Our faculty comprises scholars who practice different religions or no religion at all. Our professors, all of whom serve the Commonwealth of Virginia, hold a range of political views. Those who are American citizens vote their consciences individually in elections, for a wide array of political parties. Amid this political and national diversity, we stand united in our unanimous and unequivocal condemnation of those who promote hate, by way of violent speech and action—the white supremacists, the neo-Nazis, the neo-Fascists, the anti-Semites. And we regard this condemnation as the expression of a simple, moral truth rather than a political statement.

We must not hesitate to name and condemn the intimidation, terror, and violence that convulsed and profaned our city and university this weekend. We consider the groups who organized and participated in the “Unite the Right” rally to be hate groups. We do not take their views to represent a legitimate, alternative political perspective: they are dangerous, and they perpetuate what is universally condemned by all the world’s religions and ethical systems. We feel morally compelled to call out those who afflicted our community with their night-time mob on the University’s Grounds and with their violence on our city’s streets the following day. Burning torches, aggressive chanting, and racist, homophobic, and antisemitic slogans echo the symbolism, and messages, of Nazi-era Germany and of the Ku Klux Klan in the United States. This is not a time for equivocation. We stand firmly and explicitly against the views and actions of those espousing hate, terror, and violence in Charlottesville over this past weekend, and any other day.

Professor Charles Mathewes and doctoral student Evan Sandsmark consider the moral perils of wealth in the Washington Post.

The city of Salem, Mass., has opened a memorial to commemorate the people who were convicted and killed during its notorious series of "witch trials" in 1692. The memorial stands at the site where 19 innocent women and men were hanged. The research of Ben Ray, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, was instrumental in determining the precise location of the hangings. Professor Ray can be seen in the front row of the memorial dedication ceremonies in the second picture included in this report from NPR. His recent book, Satan and Salemis a product of his extensive research in the area. 

Faculty member writes on environment and evangelicals: Over the past decade a growing number of US evangelicals have come to regard the very idea of climate change as a threat to their identity, presenting climate discourse as a cultural attack on the embattled Christian identity. Willis Jenkins argues that we should view this climate denial not as the result of a religious narrative, but as a way of avoiding accountability for polluting the atmosphere. Read his recent piece on the London School of Economics’ Religion and the Public Sphere blog."

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/religionpublicsphere/2017/06/trump-climate-change-and-white-us-evangelicalism/

 

Six fabulous courses in Religious Studies are being offered this summer! All provide a great opportunity to work closely with some of our best teachers in a more relaxed seminar format — and they are an efficient way to fulfill your requirements in a shorter time frame. Find out more here.

UVA Today article on award-winning teachers highlights Religious Studies Professor Greg Schmidt Goering's teaching and his award of the NEH Daniels Family Distinguished Teaching Professorship.

Read about Professor Vanessa Ochs' research on the evolution of modern rituals in UVA Today.

Just funded under the Mellon Humanities Lab Program of the College of Arts and Sciences is a lab on ‘Dissecting Cultural Pluralism: Religion and Society in the Ancient and Medieval Mediterranean,’ to be conducted under the auspices of the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures (IHGC) for the academic years 2017–18 and 2018–19. The fourteen faculty participants include members of the Departments of Art, Classics, History, and Religious Studies; there will be abundant opportunities for participation by graduate students. The Directors of the Lab are John Miller (Classics) and Janet Spittler (Religious Studies). This Lab will involve overlapping collaborations on three themes: religious pluralism; sacred cities; legacies and lessons. Activities will include course development, visiting lectures, conferences, and support for graduate student and faculty research. The Lab will occupy space in Wilson Hall in proximity to the IHGC.

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