I am writing to propose and encourage a general religious literacy for all interested readers: those who profess a particular religion, profess no religion at all, or may profess their own personal notion of spirituality.

While I address the university student directly, I also wish to offer the contents of this blog as a guide to anyone interested in untangling the complex subject of our religious nature. The desired goal for the honest study of religion and of our introductory classes on religion is religious literacy.

The objective study of religion is a young science and has emerged from institutions of learning, which were once themselves religious in nature. Throughout history and across different cultures, the university had regularly been a religious institution. Until very recently in the history of education, our institutions of learning did not offer religion as a topic, but as religious formation.

A quick study of the history of education will confirm that the majority of higher education was once a formation for religious leaders, who would often be the most educated people in a community.


The secularization of education had to come first before religion was seriously studied in comparative religion departments throughout the world.

Whether made up of believers or non-believers, the classroom devoted to the study of the world religions insists that all religious traditions can be known and understood by an outsider and this assumption must be clear to the student before they begin.

Religious literacy, at its very least, knows the first thing about our living religious traditions, the cultural and linguistic origin of the religion, the names of their scriptures and their founders, and a general apprehension of what the believer believes.

Throughout their studies, and perhaps for the first time in their lives, young students are exposed to the traditions and practices of diverse people, and introduced to the historical approach to religious studies. Further posts developing this topic are linked together under the category Religious Literacy.

– John Holland

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