Curriculum: Studying God on Campus

The scholarly study of religion, shorn of both catechism and clericalism, is fast becoming a major subject in secular U.S. colleges and universities. Two decades ago, only a dozen state-supported campuses had full-fledged religion programs; elsewhere, religion was usually nothing more than the Bible as literature, taught by English professors. Now, says Cyrus Pangborn, head of Rutgers' religion department, "universities recognize that the study of religion is as respectable a discipline as philosophy or sociology."

At least 75% of the nation's four-year colleges have religion courses; more than 20% of U.S. state...

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