Religious Pluralism in North America: The Southern United States

On November 21-22, 2003, in conjunction with the American Academy of Religion Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, the Pluralism Project hosted a gathering of scholars and teachers interested in the many issues of religion and immigration. The program was arranged in such a way as to facilitate discussion under several headings on the changing religious landscape of the U.S. In addition to invited guests, other AAR attendees were welcome to join the conversation which took place in the Hilton Atlanta & Towers, Rockdale/Forsythe Room.

Schedule of Discussions

1:00 – 2:30 First Discussion Session:  Religious Diversity in the Southern United States

  • Diana Eck, Harvard University: Opening remarks and update on the Pluralism Project and Critical Issues in the U.S.
  • Grove Harris, Harvard University: Pluralism Project Pragmatics, including Online Databases and Outreach
  • Kathryn McClymond, Georgia State University: Mapping the Religious Landscape of Atlanta, GA
  • Corrie Norman and student researchers Heather Barclay and Holly Jordan, Converse College: Women and Religious Diversity in the South: Stories and Trajectories for Research
  • Claude Stulting, Sam Britt, and student researcher Tracy Wells, Furman University: Mapping the Religious Landscape in South Carolina

2:30 – 3:00 Break with refreshments and continuing informal conversation. Discussion topics include the ethos surrounding religious pluralism in the South, and the Ten Commandments issue.

3:00 – 4:30 Second Discussion Session: Teaching in and Through the Context of Religious Pluralism

  • Marcia Beauchamp, California Institute of Integral Studies: Uses of the Building Bridges of Understanding Curriculum
  • David Damrel, Arizona State University: World Religions in Arizona: Teaching Students; Teaching Teachers
  • Tim Cahill, Loyola University and student researcher Arthi Devarajan, Emory University: Mapping Religious Sites in New Orleans – Lessons Learned
  • Stuart Chandler, Indiana University of Pennsylvania: Scholars of Religious Diversity and Interfaith Dialogue

4:30 – 5:00 Break with light supper and continuing informal conversation.

  • Katy Shrout, Emory University: Autumn in Atlanta: Religious Community, Festival, and Celebration
  • Cindy Brown, University of Southern Mississippi: Images of Religious Diversity in Southern Mississippi – More than Southern Baptists

5:00 – 6:30 Third Discussion Session: Research on Religious Communities

  • Gary Laderman, Emory University: Religious Pluralism – Local and Global
  • Allen Richardson and Cate Cameron, Cedar Crest College: Religious Diversity and the Re-definition of Community in Pennsylvania’s Anthracite Coal Region
  • Valarie Kaur Brar, Stanford University: Targeting the Turban – Sikh Americans and the Aversion Spiral After September 11

Student Research in the South

  • Ben Zeller, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: From Ashram to Congregation: An ISKCON Temple in Transition
  • Jeff Wilson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Mapping the Buddhist Community of Richmond, Virginia and Buddhism in North Carolina Project – Asheville

6:30 – 6:45 Break for refreshment and networking.

6:45 – 8:00 Fourth Discussion Session: Student Research further afield

  • Kent Patten, Arizona State University: Zoroastrian Funerary Rites in Houston, Texas
  • Abbas Barzegar, University of Colorado at Boulder: The Dynamics of the Colorado Muslim Community: Pluralism as Seen Through the Study of Five Organizations
  • Emily Mace, Harvard University: “A Choice Between God and Something Else?” Hinduism, Land Use, and Discrimination in Small Town New Jersey

Concluding Remarks: Diana Eck, Harvard University

8:00 – 8:30 Valerie Kaur Brar showed her film, a 28 minute prelude to a full-length documentary: Targeting the Turban – Sikh Americans and the Aversion Spiral After September 11

Pluralism Project Affiliates and Discussants:

  • Vivienne Angeles, La Salle University: Study of Filipino Communities in Philadelphia
  • Celia Arch, Student Researcher, Georgia State University: Mapping the Religious Landscape of Atlanta, GA
  • Linda Barnes, Boston Medical Center: The Boston Healing Landscape Project
  • Swasti Bhattacharyya, Buena Vista University, School of Social Science, Philosophy and Religion
  • Regina Boisclair, Alaska Pacific University: The Spiritual Environment of Greater Anchorage
  • Patrice Brodeur, Connecticut College: The Pluralism Project at Connecticut College
  • Karen McCarthy Brown, Drew University: The Newark Project
  • Pam Buckmaster, Consultant, Museum of World Religions Project
  • Emily Gaudier, Student Researcher, Converse College
  • Yudit Greenberg, Rollins College: Religious Life in Orlando, Florida (1900-1999)
  • Jonathan Grieser, Furman University, History of Christianity
  • R. Scott Hanson, Philadelphia University
  • Marlene G. Holland, Sandy Creek High School, Comparative Religions Bill James, Queens University, Ontario
  • Jamillah Karim, Duke University
  • Jay McDaniel, Hendrix College: Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism in Arkansas
  • Ryan Miller, Student Researcher, Queens University, Ontario
  • Viggo Mortenson, University of Aarhus: Mapping the Religious Landscape of Aarhus, Denmark
  • Vijaya Nagarajan, University of San Francisco
  • Vasudha Narayanan, University of Florida: Profiling Hindu Temples in Georgia, Florida, and Michigan
  • David Odell-Scott, Kent State University: Buddhists along the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Mississippi
  • Lauren Odell-Scott, Kent, Ohio: Buddhists along the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Mississippi
  • Karen Pechilis, Drew University: Historical Religions New to the American Context in Northern and Central New Jersey
  • Ajile A. Rahman, Teacher, West Lake High School; PhD, Clark Atlanta University: Researching Women’s Activism – Clara Muhammad
  • Arunima Sinha, Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of South Carolina
  • Jeanne Matthews Sommer, Warren Wilson College: Asheville’s Spiritual Odyssey
  • Kristen Taylor, Student, Honors College, Kent State University
  • Dolores Turner, Student Researcher, Queens University, Ontario
  • George Wiley, Baker University: World Religions in Northeast Kansas

Saturday, November 22

8:30 – 11:30 A.M. Bus Tour – The Pluralism Project arranged a bus tour to the Hindu Temple of Atlanta.