Case Studies

Religion and Public Life has developed a series of case studies that illustrate how religious traditions deal in diverse ways with issues of climate change, gender, minority status in the United States, and violence and peace. These case studies can be used on their own or in conjunction with the Religion Profiles and/or Country Profiles. Each case study uses the method of Religion and Public Life and seeks to demonstrate that the religious tradition it discusses is internally diverse, changes over time, and is embedded in culture. Please see Our Approach for additional information on how we study religion and the Religious Literacy and Education Blog for examples of how teachers have used these resources in their classrooms.

The case studies in this section were created by Kristofer Rhude (MDiv ’18) for Religion and Public Life under the editorial direction of Dr. Diane L. Moore.

John Kerry at the plenary sessions of the COP21 summit

Climate Change

Global anthropogenic—or human caused—climate change has deeply impacted the ways that religions are practiced around the world. At the same time, religions have also played major roles in framing the issue among their believers.

A group of hijra


Every major world religion originated in patriarchal societies, and people of any other gender are largely excluded. Powerful women, feminists, and members of the LGBTQ community have played major roles in all faiths.

Keith Elison being sworn in to Congress on a Qu'ran
Attorney General Keith Ellison is sworn in at the Fitzgerald Theater, St Paul MN. Photo by Lorie Shaull. Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Minority in America

In America, religious people often respond differently when they are in a position of authority or in a position of oppression.

Scientist working in a lab


Many people have used new technologies on behalf of their religious traditions. At times, religious needs have driven technological innovation.

Israeli missle defense rocket launch

Violence and Peace

No religion is inherently violent or peaceful. Religions can inspire horrific violence and, conversely, stunning acts of love and peacebuilding.