Religion in Context

Religious literacy requires engaging religion in context, not in the abstract. Religions are internally diverse, historically dynamic, and embedded in culture. Because of this inherent complexity, generalizing questions such as “What do Muslims think about the hijab?” cannot yield an accurate answer. Better questions require context: Which Muslims? When? Where? Only when we know sufficient details about context can we ask the deeper question: Why?


The resources in this section offer opportunities to study religion in specific contexts. Profiles of major religions offer foundational information about the tradition and its variations across time and place. Thematic case studies on these religions highlight key themes of climate change, gender, technology, violence and peace, and minority life in the United States. Profiles of select countries illustrate how religions have interacted with communities and governments over time. We also offer a glossary of key terms in the study of these religions.

Rainbow banner woven into fence surrounding a church


Learn how major religious traditions are internally diverse and are always evolving and changing.

Muslim woman with children sitting at a table

Case Studies

Learn about the diverse, dynamic nature of religion in context.

Mural depicts a weeping woman

Arts and Culture

Religions are deeply embedded in cultural practices and institutions, as well as artistic expression.

A march gathers in a road in Nigeria.

Country Profiles

Understand religious influences in social and historical context.