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Religious Landscape Project (RLP)

The idea of a sacred religious landscape is not new but the term itself has multiple applications and meanings. For the purpose of this project, we will use the phrase religious landscape to describe the people and places within a geographical area connected to organized or institutionalized religions. In other words we are using it demographically to understand what religion looks like where we live and what impact this may have on our culture. This is not, however, a statistics or geospatial class so this will not be a perfect, or even an accurate, rendering of our local neighborhoods (how do you measure the unaffiliated?), but it will, at the very least, give you a starting place to begin your own explorations of these questions.

Key Points:
What does the religious landscape look like in the various communities you belong to (local, regional, national)? How religiously diverse is your community? How does it compare to the nation? How are we handling this diversity and where are we headed? What will the future of religion in America look like? These questions should be answered in your project.

The Objectives of this assignment are to:

Look closely and critically at the diversity of our community, analyze what this means practically for us and compare it to other, broader Religious Landscapes
To communicate your finding visually (slide presentation) and in writing (worksheets)
To gain knowledge and understanding of some of your religious communities
Analyze your personal biases and assumptions about our religious landscapes
Formulate opinions and hypotheses about trends and the future of American religion
Description
You will be given about 6 weeks to complete this assignment. Do not put it off until the very last minute. It takes some time to complete all the various parts. This may be done individually or with a partner.

1) Gathering data of the religions represented in your neighborhood. Choose a local neighborhood or city (Taylorsville, West Valley, Milcreek, Sandy, Draper, etc). Compile a list of the religions you find in your area and other interesting related data.  Do the same for Utah, a random State, and the Nation

include maps of the area
colorful graphs, charts or tables showing the information
2) Compare your findings with each other. This will result in 3 comparisons:

neighborhood > Utah
Utah > Random State
Utah > Nation
Draw conclusions: Be specific and thorough dont just compare the LDS population in Utah to the nation,  but consider other trends you see as well.
You might want to create side-by-side tables or graphs to illustrate the comparison
Address the following questions:

Are we as diverse? Not as diverse?
In what ways do we measure up to and in what ways do we fall short?
How does this information impact your understanding of the culture you live in?
Does this information challenge any biases you have or stereotypes you hold?
3) Explore and Discover To provide representative examples of the diversity of your community (either local or regional) “visit” (this may have to be done virtually) at least two places of worship, a Christian religion and a non-Christian religion. Please choose religions you are unfamiliar with. If you are doing this  with a partner, choose the same space to “visit”.  Pay attention to the following:

History of the space (when was it built/acquired and how) (some places have websites where you can find this information),
Who worships there now (demographics) (you may have to rely on your eyeballs here or make an educated guess if the information cannot be found online),
What happens there daily,
Their relationship with the wider community (any partnerships or interfaith activity?),
Beliefs and practices that make them unique,
Challenges they may face (Public Relations? Discrimination? Marketing? Finances? Membership? etc.),
Contributions they have made to the community, state or nation. (Charity? Disaster relief? Politics?),
4)  Analyze and Connect. Reflect and theorize on why things are the way they are. And where they might be going.  Read some recommended articles about religious trends in the US (See the worksheet for links to these articles), can these be confirmed by your data and your own observations?  Apply what you have learned from this project and the class to draw some conclusions about the impact religion has had on our country and in our communities. For example?

What is being done in your communities, local, regional and national, to make religious diversity a positive aspect of our culture?
Are religions reaching out to other religions in ecumenical ways?
Are they providing services and making contributions as a whole?
Does it appear that we are engaging, ignoring or just coping with religious diversity?
Based on what you know, predict where America may be going religiously speaking and how this may affect you.
Final Products: Complete the worksheets and submit them in Canvas.  Please type them.

Link to the worksheets: RLP Worksheets

Useful sources:
www.pewforum.org (Links to an external site.),
www.share.america.gov (Links to an external site.),
www.prri.org (Links to an external site.),
www.statista.com (Links to an external site.),
https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/centers/jesinst/pdf/Grim-globalReligion-full.pdf (Links to an external site.) http://news.gallup.com/poll/224642/2017-update-americans-religion.aspx (Links to an external site.)
www.bestplaces.net (Links to an external site.)

 

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