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MU How to Study Religion Essay

Paper 1: How to Study Religion

Skills Taught:

The goal of the assignment is for you to demonstrate critical thinking about the ways that scholars frame the study of religion and to communicate that to an audience who will be put off by jargon and specialized terminology.


The gist: How should religion be studied in secondary schools? Pick one theory and advocate it over a second (competing) theory of religion. Your main goal is to persuade members of a fictional school board to adopt a textbook on religion that has a strong theoretical focus. Assume no training in religious studies.

In detail: Compose a 2500 word (7-10 pages of text, excluding the works cited section) persuasive paper intended for an audience of non-academics, namely a fictive school board seeking to adopt a textbook on religious studies. Compare and contrast two theorists that we have studied this semester and advocate one theory as the best way to study religion. The only source you will use is Pals, Nine Theories of Religion.


Your intended audience is a school board populated by high school and college graduates who have never studied religion in an academic setting.

Style and Citation:

Use MLA style: (Links to an external site.)


Making a claim. In the essay, is your claim about how to study religion clear and precise?

Assessing available evidence and building a persuasive case for your claim. Have you considered where Pals is most persuasive and where he fails to convince you? Have you selected the best (most persuasive) of his arguments and supplemented them with your own reasoning? Having built out a structure based on the strongest of the arguments made by Pals, do you offer the school board a clear and persuasive framework for the study of religion?

Responding to objections and alternatives. To what extent do you anticipate possible objections, acknowledge them, and offer responses?

Giving clear citations so that the school board can learn more about your position. Do you quote and cite Pals appropriately?


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