Maintaining Neutrality while Teaching Religious Studies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


I present what I consider to be a weighty set of arguments for the view that instructors in religion at secular public institutions should be neutral in their approach to the truth of the claims of religious traditions they interpret and discuss—a view that I refer to as neutralism. Neutralism has much to recommend it, and from the point of view of religion instructors at secular public institutions there is much that is appealing about it. Then I explore some reasons why neutralism needs to be qualified. The most important reason arises from the fact that the norms within some academic disciplines in religious studies legitimate either (a) defending claims that count for or against the truth of substantive religious claims or (b) arguing explicitly for the truth of substantive religious claims. I consider how best to combine neutralism with recognition of these other disciplinary norms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTeaching Interreligious Encounters
EditorsMarc A Pugliese, Alex Y Hwang
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780190677565
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Disciplinary norms
  • Neutralism
  • Teaching religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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