Scholarly Values, Methods, and Evidence in the Academic Study of Religion

Ann Taves, Wesley J. Wildman, F. LeRon Shults, and Raymond F. Paloutzian

Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Abstract: The Values in Scholarship on Religion (VISOR) project collected data on the preferred methods and values of scholars in the academic study of religion. This dataset supports comparisons between members of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and partner organizations, such as the North American Association for the Study of Religion (NAASR), as well as members of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR). The AAR-partner sample differs from the SSSR sample in consistently preferring humanities over empirical approaches. Both samples were modestly aligned with the secular academy in rejecting theological claims as evidence. The subgroups within the AAR-partner sample that were affiliated with the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR) were the most firmly committed to secular approaches and evidence. These findings indicate the range of perspectives currently present in the big-tent AAR, which deliberately embraces theological scholarship as well as secular religious studies research.

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