Teaching Religion at a Church-Related College: Reflections on Professional Identity and Institutional Loyalty

Haynes, Stephen R. "Teaching Religion at a Church-Related College: Reflections on Professional Identity and Institutional Loyalty" Religious Studies News 12 (February 1997): 18-19.

Despite predictions in the 1960s that religiously affiliated colleges would become marginalized in higher education by the end of the century, Stephen Haynes notes that over 700 church-related colleges existed in the United States as the century drew to a close. However, Haynes argues that many of these schools appear indistinguishable from secular colleges. Even though various constituencies at church-affiliated colleges (parents, students, and trustees, for example) expect religious studies departments to provide a distinguishing mark to “the educational environment of the church-related colleges,” the faculty in these departments have become ever more ambivalent about mixing faith and scholarship.
<p>Using the religious studies department at Rhodes College as a case study, Haynes found that many faculty there maintain strong religious beliefs. Yet they “are plagued by a lingering sense that religious commitment may be inimical to good scholarship and good teaching in a department of religious studies.” Thus religious scholars face competing sets of demands for loyalty. On the one hand is the college with its expectation that religious studies departments define a college’s religious character. From another direction the academic profession calls for value-neutral scholarship, and finally a scholar’s own religious traditions makes its own claims on the faculty member's attention.
<p>Haynes concludes by noting the generally healthy state of affairs for religiously-affiliated colleges and the ways that religious scholars have dialogued about the pressures mentioned above. The Rhodes consultation, for example, provided opportunities for faculty to discuss ways to integrate faith with teaching and research. (AS)