Religious Pluralism in North America: The Southern United States

On November 21-22, 2003, in conjunction with the American Academy of Religion Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, the Pluralism Project hosted a gathering of scholars and teachers interested in the many issues of religion and immigration. The program was arranged in such a way as to facilitate discussion under several headings on the changing religious landscape of the U.S. In addition to invited guests, other AAR attendees were welcome to join the conversation which took place in the Hilton Atlanta & Towers, Rockdale/Forsythe Room.

Schedule of Discussions

1:00 – 2:30 First Discussion Session:  Religious Diversity in the Southern United States

  • Diana Eck, Harvard University: Opening remarks and update on the Pluralism Project and Critical Issues in the U.S.
  • GroveSacred groves have historically been among the most important sites for Pagan worship. In Druidism, trees are thought to have specific attributes that contribute meaning to the site where they grow. Contemporary Druid groups are often called “groves.”... Harris, Harvard University: Pluralism Project Pragmatics, including Online Databases and Outreach
  • Kathryn McClymond, Georgia State University: Mapping the Religious Landscape of Atlanta, GA
  • Corrie Norman and student researchers Heather Barclay and Holly Jordan, Converse College: Women and Religious Diversity in the South: Stories and Trajectories for Research
  • Claude Stulting, Sam Britt, and student researcher Tracy Wells, Furman University: Mapping the Religious Landscape in South Carolina

2:30 – 3:00 Break with refreshments and continuing informal conversation. Discussion topics include the ethos surrounding religious pluralism in the South, and the Ten Commandments issue.

3:00 – 4:30 Second Discussion Session: Teaching in and Through the Context of Religious Pluralism

  • Marcia Beauchamp, California Institute of Integral Studies: Uses of the Building Bridges of Understanding Curriculum
  • DavidDavid was the King of Israel (c. 1000 BCE) credited with uniting the many tribes of Israel into a centralized kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital. David is said to have planned for the Temple in Jerusalem, which was subsequently built by his son Solomon... Damrel, Arizona State University: World Religions in Arizona: Teaching Students; Teaching Teachers
  • Tim Cahill, Loyola University and student researcher Arthi Devarajan, Emory University: Mapping Religious Sites in New Orleans – Lessons Learned
  • Stuart Chandler, Indiana University of Pennsylvania: Scholars of Religious Diversity and Interfaith Dialogue

4:30 – 5:00 Break with light supper and continuing informal conversation.

  • Katy Shrout, Emory University: Autumn in Atlanta: Religious Community, Festival, and Celebration
  • Cindy Brown, University of Southern Mississippi: Images of Religious Diversity in Southern Mississippi – More than Southern BaptistsThe Baptist tradition includes a variety of Christian churches which trace their beginnings to the Anabaptist reform movement that rejected infant baptism insisting on the importance of baptizing only those who are able to profess the faith as believers.

5:00 – 6:30 Third Discussion Session: Research on Religious Communities

  • Gary Laderman, Emory University: Religious Pluralism – Local and Global
  • Allen Richardson and Cate Cameron, Cedar Crest College: Religious Diversity and the Re-definition of Community in Pennsylvania’s Anthracite Coal Region
  • Valarie KaurAll Sikh women who have joined the Khalsa assume the name Kaur, “Princess.” Brar, Stanford University: Targeting the TurbanSikh men wear a turban and Sikh women wear a long head scarf known as a chunni in fulfillment of one of the basic vows taken when joining the Khalsa (the order of committed Sikhs)—to leave the hair uncut as a sign of complete dedication to God. This is ...SikhSikhs 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... Americans and the Aversion Spiral After September 11

Student Research in the South

  • Ben Zeller, University of North Carolina at ChapelA chapel is a place of worship, smaller than the sanctuary of a church or synagogue, or in an institutional setting such as a college or hospital. Hill: From AshramIn the religious traditions of India, an ashram is a retreat center, where the cultivation of religious life takes place under the guidance of a teacher or guru. to Congregation: An ISKCONThe International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), often referred to as the Hare Krishna movement, was founded by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) who brought his tradition of devotion to Krishna to the United States in 1965. Thi... TempleA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... in Transition
  • Jeff Wilson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Mapping the Buddhist Community of Richmond, Virginia and 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... in North Carolina Project – Asheville

6:30 – 6:45 Break for refreshment and networking.

6:45 – 8:00 Fourth Discussion Session: Student Research further afield

  • Kent Patten, Arizona State University: ZoroastrianOriginating with the teachings of the Prophet Zarathushtra in the second millennium BCE, the ancient faith of Zoroastrianism is referred to as “the Good Religion” in the sacred texts. Zoroastrians are encouraged to live out their faith through the pra... Funerary Rites in Houston, Texas
  • Abbas Barzegar, University of Colorado at Boulder: The Dynamics of the Colorado Muslim Community: Pluralism as Seen Through the Study of Five Organizations
  • Emily Mace, Harvard University: “A Choice Between GodGod is a term used to refer to the Divine, the Supreme being, Transcendent deity, or Ultimate reality. and Something Else?” 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..., Land Use, and Discrimination in Small Town New Jersey

Concluding Remarks: Diana Eck, Harvard University

8:00 – 8:30 Valerie Kaur Brar showed her film, a 28 minute prelude to a full-length documentary: Targeting the Turban – Sikh Americans and the Aversion Spiral After September 11

Pluralism Project Affiliates and Discussants:

  • Vivienne Angeles, La Salle University: Study of Filipino Communities in Philadelphia
  • Celia Arch, Student Researcher, Georgia State University: Mapping the Religious Landscape of Atlanta, GA
  • Linda Barnes, Boston Medical Center: The Boston Healing Landscape Project
  • Swasti Bhattacharyya, Buena Vista University, School of Social Science, Philosophy and Religion
  • Regina Boisclair, Alaska Pacific University: The Spiritual Environment of Greater Anchorage
  • Patrice Brodeur, Connecticut College: The Pluralism Project at Connecticut College
  • Karen McCarthy Brown, Drew University: The Newark Project
  • Pam Buckmaster, Consultant, Museum of World Religions Project
  • Emily Gaudier, Student Researcher, Converse College
  • Yudit Greenberg, Rollins College: Religious Life in Orlando, Florida (1900-1999)
  • Jonathan Grieser, Furman University, History of ChristianityChristianity is the religious tradition of Christians: those who confesses faith in Jesus Christ, follow the path Christ taught, and gather together in the community of the church.
  • R. Scott Hanson, Philadelphia University
  • Marlene G. Holland, Sandy Creek High School, Comparative Religions Bill James, Queens University, Ontario
  • Jamillah Karim, Duke University
  • Jay McDaniel, Hendrix College: Hinduism, 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 JainismThe term Jain or Jaina refers to the tradition of the Jinas, the “victorious ones” who have won spiritual liberation, and to those who follow it. The Jain tradition as we know it dates back some 2500 years to the life of the teacher Mahavira, said to ... in Arkansas
  • Ryan Miller, Student Researcher, Queens University, Ontario
  • Viggo Mortenson, University of Aarhus: Mapping the Religious Landscape of Aarhus, Denmark
  • Vijaya Nagarajan, University of San Francisco
  • Vasudha Narayanan, University of Florida: Profiling Hindu TemplesA Hindu temple will be called a mandir in northern parts of India or a koyil in the south. There are many styles of temples and temple-complexes, but most temples are laid out according to precise dimensions and proportions and erected to be the symbolic ... in Georgia, Florida, and Michigan
  • David Odell-Scott, Kent State University: Buddhists along the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Mississippi
  • Lauren Odell-Scott, Kent, Ohio: Buddhists along the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Mississippi
  • Karen Pechilis, Drew University: Historical Religions New to the American Context in Northern and Central New Jersey
  • Ajile A. Rahman, Teacher, West Lake High School; PhD, Clark Atlanta University: Researching Women’s Activism – Clara MuhammadThe Prophet Muhammad, known as “the Seal of the Prophets,” was born in the city of Makkah on the Arabian peninsula in 570 C.E. At 40, he began to receive a series of revelations from God through the angel Gabriel. His small group of followers met with...
  • Arunima Sinha, Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of South Carolina
  • Jeanne Matthews Sommer, Warren Wilson College: Asheville’s Spiritual Odyssey
  • Kristen Taylor, Student, Honors College, Kent State University
  • Dolores Turner, Student Researcher, Queens University, Ontario
  • George Wiley, Baker University: World Religions in Northeast Kansas

Saturday, November 22

8:30 – 11:30 A.M. Bus Tour – The Pluralism Project arranged a bus tour to the Hindu Temple of Atlanta.