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a journal of analysis and comment advancing public understanding of religion and education
(more on the Journal)

Spring 2008
Vol. 35 No. 2

Editorís Preface

     Conservative Christian influence, particularly in the United States, continues to encourage some, frustrate others, but intrigue and fascinate most observers of contemporary culture.  One cannot underestimate the impact of these groups on all aspects of society. Traveling under the names evangelical, fundamentalist, conservative Catholic and more, they invite our scrutiny for the attention they garner relative to their minority numbers in the larger population.  Once thought monolithic, studies have shown that they differentiate as other aspects of the population.  That said, they hold in common some significant underlying religious tenets that produce a congruous social ethic.  Two articles in this issue explore this trend directly as it relates to education. 
      First, author Alyssa Bryant offers an understanding of the developmental pathways of evangelical college students.  Building upon her previous work, as well as the foundational faith development work of James Fowler and Sharon Parks, Bryant provides a nuanced discussion of evangelical student faith development that, at points, challenges the work of Fowler and Parks.  One of the major concerns Bryant surfaces from her respondents relates to the concept of truth, the central subject of the second article.
      Francis Dominic Degnin follows with a companion piece to one we published in spring 2007 (“Talking with Students about Faith in an Era of Religious Extremes”).  In the current article he discusses his pedagogical approach to talking to students about truth, using Heidegger to “loosen the grip of literal absolutes.”
      In the third article we shift venues to the topic of public funding for the teaching of religion in Canada and what author Adam Stewart argues are ramifications for the much heralded federal policy of multiculturalism.
      Xaé Alicia Reyes provides the fourth study of this issue in which Latino/a participation patterns and dynamics are examined for their potential for impacting increased student achievement.  Community events, churches, and schools are among the venues studied to understand their function and interactions that may be harnessed for the academic benefit of students.
     Art professor Julia Kellman offers an essay in our fifth article that reflects on the spirituality of teaching inspired by a reading of a psalm from the Hebrew and Christian traditions.  “Poured out like water” is an image that embodies for her an “attentive, engaged life of attunement and charity that are part of spiritual living” (p.69).
      Our concluding article, “Judicial ‘hostility to all things religious in public life’” is an essay by editorial board member Charles Russo in which he argues “that the Supreme Court has adopted a position that is largely hostile to religion, Christianity in particular…and have misapplied and misunderstood the so-called Lemon test” (p.79)  Religion and Education seeks all views on such topics as this and would welcome alternate interpretations and ongoing dialogue on this and other perspectives asserted in our pages.
     We want to welcome a new member to our editorial board.  Professor Alyssa N. Bryant of North Carolina State University provided the lead article to this issue and has been a past contributor.  She is an active scholar in the field of religion and higher education and we welcome her participation in the growing and expanding work of the journal.
      The cover art for this issue is Eve and the Snake by Mary Nash of Vienna, Virginia. It was part of the October 2001 exhibit, A Question of Faith, at the University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art.

Michael D. Waggoner, Editor
Religion and Education
Winter 2008