Our Approach

Religion and Public Life provides a way to understand religion in context, with special attention to questions of power, peace, and conflict.

Our approach is non devotional and academic, which means we acknowledge that there are multiple authentic representations of religious expression in the world. Our goal is always to deepen understanding of the power of religion in the service of building a more just and peaceful world. 

Learn more about our approach below.


Religions have functioned throughout human history to inspire and justify the full range of agency from the heinous to the heroic. Their influences remain potent at the dawn of the twenty-first century in spite of modern predictions that religious influences would steadily decline in concert with the rise of secular democracies and advances in science. Understanding these complex religious influences is a critical dimension of understanding modern human affairs across the full spectrum of endeavors in local, national, and global arenas. Religion and Public Life provides educational opportunities and resources for how to recognize, understand, and analyze religious influences in historic contexts and contemporary life.

The following videos and essays lay out our approach to the study of religion, focusing on context, power, peace, and conflict.

What is Religious Literacy?

The ability to discern and analyze the fundamental intersections of religion and social, political, and cultural life through multiple lenses.

More on Religious Literacy

Core Principles

Religions are internally diverse, evolve and change over time, and are embedded in culture.

Read the Core Principles Essay

Cultural Studies

Understanding religion means attending to questions of perspective and power.

More on the Cultural Studies Approach

Violence and Peace

Religion is a powerful force that can inspire both violence and peace.

More on Violence and Peace

More background on our approach to organizing our work at RPL is included in Dr. Moore's draft RPL White Paper.