To what extent does the culture of the modern research university harbor and nuture a bias against religion? Some scholars believe that the academy inconsistently excludes personal religious convictions while welcoming most other kinds of personal beliefs such as those concerning gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Others say that religion in the university is thriving and point to the proliferation of religious studies programs and the mounting literature on religion in the social sciences and humanities.
Related to the question of academic bias against religion is the degree to which teaching about religion is a form of religious advocacy. Some believe that even though teaching about religion is necessary to understand human experience, such teaching often borders on advocacy if the dogmatic intolerant, and unreasonable nature of religion is not acknowledged. Others answer that if professors may advocate other ideologies--whether political, cultural, or economic--that are fairly partisan, then religion should not be treated differently.
Religious Advocacy and American History explores the general question of bias and objectivity in higher learning from the perspective of the role of religious convictions in the study of American history. The contributors to this book, many of whom are leading historians of American religion and culture, address primarily two related questions. First, how do personal religious convictions influence one's own research, writing, and teaching? And second whatplace should personal beliefs have within American higher education?