Investigate the universal human quest for a meaningful existence and experience of transcendence. This involves an examination of the beliefs and practices of the various religions of the world, the individual spiritual journey, and the role of religion in society and culture.

The Department of Religion seeks to develop in its religion majors a consistent perspective for understanding their own religion and the religions of others. As a student you will be encouraged to examine your own religious beliefs with critical detachment and religious beliefs other than your own with disciplined empathy. The development of this perspective will help you to better understand your world and will prepare you to be successful in whatever path you choose to take after graduation.

Overview

Your Program

The study of religion is the investigation of the universal human quest for a meaningful existence and experience of transcendence. This involves an examination of the beliefs and practices of the various religions of the world, the individual spiritual journey, and the role of religion in society and culture.

Your Experience

What can you do with a religion major? You may head for seminary or a graduate program in religion; be a double major who takes religion as a support for or a complement to another major; or be a student in the education program who chooses religion as your required academic major.

Your Results

When you complete your religion major, you will be able to conduct research in religion and present in both oral and written form the results of your research. This means that you will be able to:

  • Critically assess both primary and secondary literature about religion
  • Read religious texts (in translation) and interpret them using critical methods
  • Observe religious rituals and interpret them using critical methods
  • Effectively communicate observations and conclusions
Major/Minor

Religion Major (BA)

A major in religion requires a total of nine courses including RELI 310 and 390. At least five of the nine required courses, including RELI 390, must be completed at Salem.

Religion Minor

The minor in religion requires the completion of five courses. RELI 270 is excluded. Students must take at least three of the religion courses at Salem.

Courses

RELI 106. The Religious Dimension (3 hrs)

An introductory study of the nature of religion through an exploration of the significance of religious myth, symbolism, and ritual within life and culture. (HM)

RELI 110. Introduction to Hebrew Scriptures (3 hrs)

A historical and literary study of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Introduces students to the content of the scripture and methods of interpretation. Special attention will be given to the portrayal of women in these writings. (HM)

RELI 111. Introduction to the New Testament (3 hrs)

A historical and literary study of the New Testament. Students will examine the New Testament in its historical (Greco-Roman) and religious (Judaism) settings. Special attention is given to the historical Jesus and the role of women in the early Christian movement. (HM)

RELI 120. Western Religious Traditions (3 hrs)

An introduction to the three main Western religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and their mutual development. Emphasis is on understanding the rituals, theology, scripture, and ethics of each tradition and their contributions to western culture. (HM), (GA)

RELI 130. Eastern Religious Traditions (3 hrs)

An introduction to the main Eastern religious traditions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, and Sikhism). Emphasis is on understanding the beliefs and practices of each tradition as well as relationships between traditions. Special attention is given to the role of women in Eastern religious traditions. (HM), (GA)

RELI 160. The Moravian Experience (3 hrs)

An introduction to the history, culture, theology, and influence of the worldwide Moravian religious tradition, particularly since 1722. Special attention is given to Salem. (HM)

RELI 200. Independent Study in Religion (1-4 hrs)

Independent study under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Open to students with a 2.0 cumulative average and permission of the chair of department. Independent study may take the form of readings, research, conference, projects, and/or field experience. Independent study may be taken for a total of four courses, no more than two in any term. Prerequisite: At least one RELI course and permission of the department.

RELI 202. Christianity: The Way of the Cross (3 hrs)

An examination of the diversity and unity of 2,000 years of Christian history with special attention to the worldwide spread and theological development of the church. Prerequisite: RELI 111 or 120, or permission of instructor.

RELI 205. Biblical Topics (1-4 hrs)

Focus on a single topic pertaining to either or both the Old and New Testaments; for example: the parables of Jesus, ancient and modern interpretations of Job, Biblical mythology, the prophetic movement, the theology of Paul, and the book of Revelation. May be taken more than once with a different topic. Prerequisite: RELI 110 or 111 or equivalent.

RELI 220. Special Topics in Religion (1-4 hrs)

Focus on a particular topic in the study of religion; for example: Native American religions, African religious traditions, women in the Christian tradition, history of Christian thought, feminist theology, theories of religion.

RELI 221. Islam: The Straight Path (3 hrs)

A study of the origins of Islam in Arabia and its spread throughout the world. Special attention is given to the relationship between religion and politics in Islam, the recent resurgence of Islam, and the issues of gender and social change. Prerequisite: RELI 120 or permission of instructor.

RELI 231. Buddhism: The Middle Path (3 hrs)

A study of the origins of Buddhism in India and its spread throughout the world. The emphasis on Buddhism’s many diverse expressions in China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, Southeast Asia, and North America. Special attention is given to the role of women in Buddhism. Prerequisite: RELI 130 or permission of instructor.

RELI 240. Religion in America (3 hrs)

The historical development of the various religions and religious groups in the United States and their impact on American culture and intellectual history. Prerequisite: One course in religion or U.S. history.

RELI 255. Women in Ancient Judaism and Hebrew Scriptures (3 hrs)

A study of texts from the Tanak (Old Testament), non-canonical texts, and data from material culture that illuminate women’s lives and conceptions of women in ancient Judaism from the tenth century BCE to the first century CE.  Prerequisite: RELI 110 or 111 or equivalent. (WS)

RELI 256. Women in the New Testament and Early Christianity (3 hrs)

A study of texts from the New Testament, non-canonical texts and data from material culture that illuminate women’s lives and conceptions of women in early Christianity and in the Roman Empire in the first through the third centuries of the common era. Prerequisite: RELI 110 or 111 or equivalent. (WS)

RELI 266. Religion and Ethics (3 hrs)

An examination of contemporary moral issues from the standpoint of the ethical insights of various religious traditions. The central focus is upon how religious convictions influence moral judgments. Particular attention is paid to issues of concern to women. Prerequisite: One course in religion or permission of instructor.

RELI 268. Jesus and the Gospels (3 hrs)

A study of the historical, social, and religious context of Jesus, through analysis of the canonical gospels as well as of the non-canonical writings from the ancient Hellenistic and Jewish worlds. Prerequisite: RELI 110 or 111 or equivalent.

RELI 270. Internship in Religion (1-4 hrs)

An opportunity to use the knowledge and skills the student has learned in coursework to solve problems in a real work setting. The apprenticeship aspect of the internship implies that the student has some base of knowledge and will increase her knowledge and skills by direct contact with an experienced, knowledgeable mentor. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors with a 2.0 cumulative average; maximum credit per term is one course; admission by application only.

RELI 280. Religion and the American South (3 hrs)

The history, institutions, and cultural impact of religion in the American South. Prerequisite: One course in religion or one course in American history.

RELI 290. Honors Independent Study in Religion (3-4 hrs)

An advanced independent study under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Open to juniors and seniors with a 3.5 average in religion or philosophy, subject to the approval of chair of the department. Honors work may be taken for a maximum of two courses.

RELI 302. Philosophy of Religion (3 hrs)

The main problems of the philosophy of religion (e.g., nature of the religious dimension of life, the problem of evil, justification of faith) as treated in the works of various philosophers. Crosslisted as PHIL 302. Prerequisite: a minimum of one course in religion or philosophy.

RELI 310. The Study of Religion (3 hrs)

A survey of various methodological disciplines used in the study of religion. The goal of this course is to develop an informed and critical perspective on the study of religion through the study of myths, rituals, and literature. This course does not promote any single definition of religion or particular methodological approach to the study of religion, but rather encourages participants to develop critical skills necessary for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a number of scholarly approaches to the subject. Required of all majors. Prerequisite: One 200 level course in religion and permission of instructor.

RELI 390. Senior Seminar in Religion (3 hrs)

Required of seniors. Advanced religion research project.

Internships

Moravian Archives 

Baptist Hospital Chaplain Services 

Hospice Care

Success Stories
I consider it an honor and a privilege to be involved with the sacred work of helping patients and their families navigate through a difficult time. I love caring for people, which is why I enjoy being a chaplain. I get to do what I love to do.
Dianne Horton

Career:

  • Lexington Medical Center manager for chaplaincy and clinical ministries
  • Assistant pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
  • Member of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity
  • Member of Lexington Community Ministers’ Conference.

Your Program

The study of religion is the investigation of the universal human quest for a meaningful existence and experience of transcendence. This involves an examination of the beliefs and practices of the various religions of the world, the individual spiritual journey, and the role of religion in society and culture.

Your Experience

What can you do with a religion major? You may head for seminary or a graduate program in religion; be a double major who takes religion as a support for or a complement to another major; or be a student in the education program who chooses religion as your required academic major.

Your Results

When you complete your religion major, you will be able to conduct research in religion and present in both oral and written form the results of your research. This means that you will be able to:

  • Critically assess both primary and secondary literature about religion
  • Read religious texts (in translation) and interpret them using critical methods
  • Observe religious rituals and interpret them using critical methods
  • Effectively communicate observations and conclusions

Religion Major (BA)

A major in religion requires a total of nine courses including RELI 310 and 390. At least five of the nine required courses, including RELI 390, must be completed at Salem.

Religion Minor

The minor in religion requires the completion of five courses. RELI 270 is excluded. Students must take at least three of the religion courses at Salem.

RELI 106. The Religious Dimension (3 hrs)

An introductory study of the nature of religion through an exploration of the significance of religious myth, symbolism, and ritual within life and culture. (HM)

RELI 110. Introduction to Hebrew Scriptures (3 hrs)

A historical and literary study of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Introduces students to the content of the scripture and methods of interpretation. Special attention will be given to the portrayal of women in these writings. (HM)

RELI 111. Introduction to the New Testament (3 hrs)

A historical and literary study of the New Testament. Students will examine the New Testament in its historical (Greco-Roman) and religious (Judaism) settings. Special attention is given to the historical Jesus and the role of women in the early Christian movement. (HM)

RELI 120. Western Religious Traditions (3 hrs)

An introduction to the three main Western religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and their mutual development. Emphasis is on understanding the rituals, theology, scripture, and ethics of each tradition and their contributions to western culture. (HM), (GA)

RELI 130. Eastern Religious Traditions (3 hrs)

An introduction to the main Eastern religious traditions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, and Sikhism). Emphasis is on understanding the beliefs and practices of each tradition as well as relationships between traditions. Special attention is given to the role of women in Eastern religious traditions. (HM), (GA)

RELI 160. The Moravian Experience (3 hrs)

An introduction to the history, culture, theology, and influence of the worldwide Moravian religious tradition, particularly since 1722. Special attention is given to Salem. (HM)

RELI 200. Independent Study in Religion (1-4 hrs)

Independent study under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Open to students with a 2.0 cumulative average and permission of the chair of department. Independent study may take the form of readings, research, conference, projects, and/or field experience. Independent study may be taken for a total of four courses, no more than two in any term. Prerequisite: At least one RELI course and permission of the department.

RELI 202. Christianity: The Way of the Cross (3 hrs)

An examination of the diversity and unity of 2,000 years of Christian history with special attention to the worldwide spread and theological development of the church. Prerequisite: RELI 111 or 120, or permission of instructor.

RELI 205. Biblical Topics (1-4 hrs)

Focus on a single topic pertaining to either or both the Old and New Testaments; for example: the parables of Jesus, ancient and modern interpretations of Job, Biblical mythology, the prophetic movement, the theology of Paul, and the book of Revelation. May be taken more than once with a different topic. Prerequisite: RELI 110 or 111 or equivalent.

RELI 220. Special Topics in Religion (1-4 hrs)

Focus on a particular topic in the study of religion; for example: Native American religions, African religious traditions, women in the Christian tradition, history of Christian thought, feminist theology, theories of religion.

RELI 221. Islam: The Straight Path (3 hrs)

A study of the origins of Islam in Arabia and its spread throughout the world. Special attention is given to the relationship between religion and politics in Islam, the recent resurgence of Islam, and the issues of gender and social change. Prerequisite: RELI 120 or permission of instructor.

RELI 231. Buddhism: The Middle Path (3 hrs)

A study of the origins of Buddhism in India and its spread throughout the world. The emphasis on Buddhism’s many diverse expressions in China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, Southeast Asia, and North America. Special attention is given to the role of women in Buddhism. Prerequisite: RELI 130 or permission of instructor.

RELI 240. Religion in America (3 hrs)

The historical development of the various religions and religious groups in the United States and their impact on American culture and intellectual history. Prerequisite: One course in religion or U.S. history.

RELI 255. Women in Ancient Judaism and Hebrew Scriptures (3 hrs)

A study of texts from the Tanak (Old Testament), non-canonical texts, and data from material culture that illuminate women’s lives and conceptions of women in ancient Judaism from the tenth century BCE to the first century CE.  Prerequisite: RELI 110 or 111 or equivalent. (WS)

RELI 256. Women in the New Testament and Early Christianity (3 hrs)

A study of texts from the New Testament, non-canonical texts and data from material culture that illuminate women’s lives and conceptions of women in early Christianity and in the Roman Empire in the first through the third centuries of the common era. Prerequisite: RELI 110 or 111 or equivalent. (WS)

RELI 266. Religion and Ethics (3 hrs)

An examination of contemporary moral issues from the standpoint of the ethical insights of various religious traditions. The central focus is upon how religious convictions influence moral judgments. Particular attention is paid to issues of concern to women. Prerequisite: One course in religion or permission of instructor.

RELI 268. Jesus and the Gospels (3 hrs)

A study of the historical, social, and religious context of Jesus, through analysis of the canonical gospels as well as of the non-canonical writings from the ancient Hellenistic and Jewish worlds. Prerequisite: RELI 110 or 111 or equivalent.

RELI 270. Internship in Religion (1-4 hrs)

An opportunity to use the knowledge and skills the student has learned in coursework to solve problems in a real work setting. The apprenticeship aspect of the internship implies that the student has some base of knowledge and will increase her knowledge and skills by direct contact with an experienced, knowledgeable mentor. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors with a 2.0 cumulative average; maximum credit per term is one course; admission by application only.

RELI 280. Religion and the American South (3 hrs)

The history, institutions, and cultural impact of religion in the American South. Prerequisite: One course in religion or one course in American history.

RELI 290. Honors Independent Study in Religion (3-4 hrs)

An advanced independent study under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Open to juniors and seniors with a 3.5 average in religion or philosophy, subject to the approval of chair of the department. Honors work may be taken for a maximum of two courses.

RELI 302. Philosophy of Religion (3 hrs)

The main problems of the philosophy of religion (e.g., nature of the religious dimension of life, the problem of evil, justification of faith) as treated in the works of various philosophers. Crosslisted as PHIL 302. Prerequisite: a minimum of one course in religion or philosophy.

RELI 310. The Study of Religion (3 hrs)

A survey of various methodological disciplines used in the study of religion. The goal of this course is to develop an informed and critical perspective on the study of religion through the study of myths, rituals, and literature. This course does not promote any single definition of religion or particular methodological approach to the study of religion, but rather encourages participants to develop critical skills necessary for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a number of scholarly approaches to the subject. Required of all majors. Prerequisite: One 200 level course in religion and permission of instructor.

RELI 390. Senior Seminar in Religion (3 hrs)

Required of seniors. Advanced religion research project.

I consider it an honor and a privilege to be involved with the sacred work of helping patients and their families navigate through a difficult time. I love caring for people, which is why I enjoy being a chaplain. I get to do what I love to do.
Dianne Horton

Career:

  • Lexington Medical Center manager for chaplaincy and clinical ministries
  • Assistant pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
  • Member of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity
  • Member of Lexington Community Ministers’ Conference.

Moravian Archives 

Baptist Hospital Chaplain Services 

Hospice Care