Dr. Karen Pechilis, Dr. Wesley Ariarajah, Dr. Dorothy Austin, Dr. Christopher Taylor, Indira Govindan, and Paul Dodenhoff

Dr. Karen Pechilis led a group of researchers in mapping the historical religions new to the American context in northern and central New Jersey. Their work began in 1999 and with an emphasis on communities that had built, or were currently engaged in building, houses of worship. The project focused on BuddhismBuddhism is a multi-hued tradition of life, thought, and practice that has developed from the teaching and practice of Siddhartha Gautama (6th century BCE) who came to be called the Buddha, the awakened one. The three major streams of the tradition—Ther..., Hinduism“Hindu” was originally a word given by the Greeks, then the Persians, to the land and peoples beyond the Indus or “Sindhu” River. The term “Hinduism” came into common use only in the 19th century to describe a complex and dynamic pattern of li..., IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to..., and SikhismSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... and explored issues of community and identity in these traditions in the American context. Issues of the continuity with tradition and the challenge to traditional formulations as well as the American context informed the inquiry.

A group of six academics at Drew University constituted the core working group for this study, including:

  • Dr. Wesley Ariarajah, Professor of Ecumenical Theology/Inter-religious understanding
  • Dr. Dorothy Austin, Associate Professor of Psychology and Religion/Buddhism
  • Dr. Christopher Taylor, Associate Professor of Religion/Islam
  • Dr. Karen Pechilis, Assistant Professor of Religion/Hinduism and Asian Religions
  • Paul Dodenhoff, Ph.D. candidate in Theological and Religious Studies/Sikhism
  • Indira Govindan, director of University Research and Budget Director/Hindu life, Ph.D. candidate in Religion

Selected Links and Publications