a journal of analysis and comment
advancing public understanding of religion and education
Fall 2004, Vol. 31 No. 2
We begin this fall issue acknowledging the June 2004 loss of editorial board member Dr. Catharine Cookson after a two-year battle with cancer. Dr. Cookson was Director of the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom at Virginia Wesleyan University in Norfolk, Virginia. She was a J.D. graduate of Rutgers University School of Law and later earned the Ph.D. in Religious Studies at Indiana University. In 2001, Oxford University Press published her book, Regulating Religion: The Courts and the Free Exercise Clause.
Professor Robert Jackson opens this issue with a discussion of an interpretive approach to the study of religions that "aims neither to promote nor to erode religious belief and which engages students in schools"(p. 1). England and Wales have much experience in this arena since the 1960s and the fruits of that work seem applicable to US schools in this time of greater interest in contribution of religion to our culture and the cultures of those diverse groups that are increasing their presence in and influence upon the United States.
Two complementary articles follow analyzing spiritual and religious attitudes on two different college campuses. The first piece comes from Reverend Kelly Denton-Borhaug, Chaplain and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. She reports findings from a study aimed at understanding studentsí "own spiritual lives and to invite reflection from students about the design of spiritual and religious life spaces. . . "(p. 22). The next is an essay by Professor Sue Hulett, Professor of Political Science and Department Chair and Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. In it she reflects on a study of student attitudes toward religion on her campus, especially surfacing Christian student perceptions on the climate for conservative ideas.
In the fourth article, Professor Emile Lester, also a political science professor, but from the College of William and Mary, makes a case for the importance of religious autonomy. While political theorists have long devoted effort "to justifying and defending the value of individual autonomy . . . and establishing institutions to promote" it, Lester argues that scholars have neglected the value and importance of autonomy over oneís religious beliefs (p. 62).
Professor William Jeynes offers an analysis in the fifth article of the comparative influence of religion in schools in the United States and Europe. Using meta-analysis he reviews trends emerging from eighty-four studies that examine the overall effects of religious schools and the effects of religious commitment on personal behavior.
The concluding article by editorial board member Professor Charles Russo analyzes the decision of the Eighth Circuit Court in Wigg v. Sioux Falls School District 49-5 for future implications for American public school teachersí religious free speech rights.
The cover art for this issue is In the Garden After the Fall by Robert Axel of West Hempstead, New York. It was part of the October 2001 exhibit A Question of Faith at the University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art.
Michael D. Waggoner, Editor
Religion and Education