Tag Archives: religion

Research Tips — Online religion research: locating recommended books

Written by Robert Sivigny, University Librarian

If you are distance student in the School of Divinity, one of the challenges of writing research papers is gaining access to the best books on your topic. How do you go about this? Where do you begin?

First, look for recommended books in your course syllabus or other resources listed at the top left-hand area of the course Web site within Blackboard. Professors often include a list of recommended resources, which usually have bibliographies where you can find authoritative sources. Your textbooks are another possibility; or you might ask your professor directly for best books on your research topic. If you topic has an historical angle, consult the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, available in full-text online through Oxford Reference Online. After logging in, choose “Religion & Divinity” from the subject list. Select “Advanced Search” at the top left-hand side in the dark blue menu, then select The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church from the list of works below. Type in your topic, click on the down arrow in the “Refine your Search” drop-down box to the right, and select “Entry Headings.” In this way, the database will return only full articles on your topic, not just passing references.

A full entry will give you a great overview, hypertext links to associated topics, and most importantly, a bibliography that will point you to the best books on your topic. Consider these recommendations like gold. Print out the page and search the Regent Library Catalog to see which books the Library has; then place requests through our InterLibrary Loan department. We will ship the books promptly at no charge to you. For books not held by Regent, check your local public library’s catalog and InterLibrary Loan service.

If you are working on a scriptural topic, a place to find recommended academic resources is the Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology at Crosswalk.com. Articles in Bakers usually have great bibliographies at the end of the entries. If you are looking for commentaries, use the School of Divinity handout, Selected Resources for Old and New Testament Studies, available from the Library’s new Divinity & Religion subject guide.

Other dictionaries and encyclopedias in the Library’s Reference section may have useful bibliographies. Check Recommended Reference Works to Consult for Bibliography to identify reference works that may have an article you would like to see. Call the circulation desk and ask one of the library faculty to examine a couple of listed reference dictionaries or encyclopedias to see if there is an article on your topic and to give you the page numbers. Armed with the article topic, page numbers, and specific dictionary or encyclopedia title, fill out a “Request a Photocopy” form in your InterLibrary Loan account.

After you identify the books you want, you can also use the WorldCat database to identify libraries in your area that may have the books on your topic. Sometimes even public libraries will surprise you and have the exact item you are looking for; if not, they should be able to acquire them for you through their own interlibrary loan service.

R U Global—Resources for World Leaders: Religion in Multicultural Education

Reviewed by Georgianne Bordner, University Librarian

Religion in Multicultural Education, edited by Farideh Salili and Rumjahn Hoosain

Is it possible to understand and appreciate other cultures without knowing something about their religion? Does teaching about religion in public schools violate the principle of the separation of church and state? Can learning about other religions weaken a student’s commitment to his own religion? These are just a few of the questions addressed by the authors of the essays contained in Religion in Multicultural Education.

Editors Farideh Salili and Rumjahn Hoosain hope to encourage open discussion of religious pluralism as an important part of multicultural education. The essays in this book make an important contribution to that discussion by approaching the subject from a variety of national and religious viewpoints. The topics covered include the Islamic philosophy of education, religious diversity in Western Canadian education, and the relationship between Buddhism and multicultural education in Thailand. Essays dealing with the American context are mostly critical of what the authors view as the dominance of Christianity in American culture, the marginalization of non-Christian religions, and even “Christian privilege,” which is seen to go hand-in-hand with white supremacy. Although most Christians would disagree with their analysis, authors César Rossatto and Elaine Hampton are especially critical of what they perceive as the tendency of conservative Christians to promote fear of views different from their own, and therefore remain separated as much as possible. On a more positive note, an essay titled “Blessed Communion” focuses on the need for cultural competence among theology students and outlines a process for developing this competence.

While much of the book presents the subject of religion in multicultural education from a non-Christian, and sometimes anti-Christian, point of view, it is a valuable resource for members of the Regent community hoping to increase their understanding of the issues involved, and to some extent change the practices that have often brought criticism.

Library Faculty Recommendations: Finding Religion Statistics

Written by Robert Sivigny, Librarian

How many Evangelicals attend a religious service more than once a week?  What is the distribution of Mormons in America?  Which people groups have the least missions work directed toward them?  Statistical data is available through the library Web pages in a number of places. A good starting point is a Website link for the Association of Religion Data Archives found on the library Religious Resources homepage, under, statistics. Housed at Penn State University, the Association of Religion Data Archives serves as a statistical data clearinghouse for researchers, congregations, educators, and the press. You can find in-depth studies based on state, region, or county, with inter-active maps. Enter a zip code on their main Web page, about half way down at, “U.S. Maps,” and the program will display a regional map showing adherent percentiles by major religious groups or by denomination, with options for displaying 1980 and 1990 data. All data, including graphs, maps, and tables, can be downloaded and used in research publications as long as the material is properly cited.

If you are looking for religion numbers by country, use the World Christian Database. Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, this database covers 238 countries, 3,000 provinces, 5,000 cities, and 13,000 ethno-linguistic people groups, incorporating all the data from David Barrett’s, World Christian Encyclopedia, and his World Christian Trends. This is the program of choice if you are doing a missions research project on an unreached people group.

Screenshot of WCD

Two more Web sites are of special interest, The Barna Group research pages, and the U. S. Religious Landscape Survey. Both of these are linked on the Religion Resources page under “statistics.” Author of thirty-nine books including, The Frog in the Kettle, George Barna is hailed by some as “the most quoted person in the Christian Church today.” Barna’s Website offers a “Barna by Topic” page with summary statistical data on subjects such as church attendance, Hispanics, faith commitment, gender differences, and Evangelical Christians, to name a few. For example, according to Barna, four percent of registered Democrats and five percent of registered Independents are evangelical Christians, compared to nineteen percent of registered Republicans.

The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey was conducted in 2007 using interviews with more than 35,000 Americans. The special survey, sponsored by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, details the beliefs and practices of the American public using maps, tables, summaries, and comparative studies.

Screenshot of Pew Forum

The survey shows, among other things, that “more than half of Americans say religion is very important in their lives, attend religious services regularly and pray daily. Furthermore a plurality of adults who are affiliated with a religion want their religion to preserve its traditional beliefs and practices rather than adjust to new circumstances or adopt modern beliefs and practices.”1 The site offers reports, publications, and legal backgrounders, and forum transcripts which may be viewed by date or topic. Topics include bioethics, death penalty, gay marriage, and religion and public schools, among others. One interesting feature is the opportunity to compare American political candidates on issues such abortion, church and state, death penalty, and education.

Any kind of quantitative research is dependent on reliable statistical information. Online resources like World Christian Database, The Barna Group, U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, and other Religion Statistics sites help researchers avoid potential pitfalls of Web-based research and find trustworthy data quickly.

1. U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, 2008. Online: http:religions.pewforum.orgreports [24 June 2008].