Religion class makes come back

By By Jonathan Ng

By Jonathan Ng

Students interested in the effects religion has on society will be able to satisfy their curiosity in a new class.

A class titled the sociology of religion was first offered in the 1980s, but it was cancelled after the instructor who created the course passed away. The sociology department tried to revive the class in the 1990s but dropped it after its professor took a position at another university.

This fall, Frank Page, an adjunct assistant professor of sociology, brought the class back to expose students to religion’s affects on society. He is trying to spread awareness so more students join the class Spring Semester.

“(Religion is) an issue,” Page said. “It’s a taboo subject. You don’t talk about it.”

For this reason, he hopes to help students understand the subject thoroughly, he said. The class does not promote or demote any personal religions or beliefs, nor does it address the existence of God or intended to help students choose a specific religion. The class is about studying religion as a natural sociological phenomenon.

“The class is about a deeper understanding of religion,” Page said. “I try to get at the experience of religion.”

During Fall Semester, the class featured guest speakers from different religions, including Buddhism, Catholicism, Hinduism and Scientology.

“We’ve had some spirited debate, but no animosity,” Page said. “However, we are just coming to the rather controversial part of the course-looking at the dysfunctional aspects of religion. I expect there will be more spiritual discussion on that. No hostility. It’s a good group, and we have open, meaningful discussions.”

An emphasis on the critical analysis of religion is observed in the class rather than just facts.

“We look at a lot of aspects of religion in terms of its effects on society,” Page said. “We look at the positives and the negatives.”

“Society revolves around religion and the idea of whether or not it really does exist,” said Ashley Covington, a freshman physical therapy major who took Page’s entry-level sociology course. “I think religion fuels our curiosity about the world.”

Although the course is offered through the department of sociology, it is open to all students. The course is also part of the religion and culture sequence in the College of Humanities.

“Because religion is so central to the human condition and so influential, I think class enrollments will grow in the future,” Page said.

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