Many students of religion say that the academic study of religion makes a difference in how they see others because being exposed to what others believe builds understanding in why people believe the way they do. Students also say it helps them define their own beliefs, said Dr. Sandy Martin, professor of religion and head of the Department of Religion at UGA.
Speaking to a group of thirty at Lyndon House Arts Center and four in an online audience the professor described what the Department of Religion offers. He explained it is a broad and diverse department.
"We take an academic and global approach to religion around the world. There are several professors each focusing on a different part of the world, including Native American Religion and African Traditional Religion."
"There are historical, textural or scriptural, sociological, theological, and philosophical approaches each looking at religion from a different perspective."
Drawing a distinction between academic, devotional and theological ways of studying religion, he said each has its own role to play. An academic study challenges one to think critically. Devotional educates people to practice religion, and theological brings the two together.