Frequently Asked Questions

I never had to study religion in high school. Why am I required to study it here?

In a world where most social and political conflicts contain a religious dimension, ignorance is not bliss. Think about it: all these issues are charged with religious language – abortion, creationism vs. evolution, fundamentalism, gay rights, environmental defense and degradation, health care, Holocaust studies, human rights, international terrorism, the Iraq conflict, land use in the Northwest, presidential politics, the quest for peace, poverty, and stem-cell research. The value of your college education actually increases when you have a better understanding of religion’s influence in American and global life. In a nation marked by great religious diversity and where most people claim a religious tradition, it becomes increasingly necessary to understand something of America’s religious landscape if you want to understand co-workers, friends, neighbors – even spouses or partners. PLU invites you into the study of religion so that you might better understand a global phenomenon that gives meaning and purpose to billions of people.

I have never studied religion before. Do I have to be Lutheran or religious to do well in a university religion course?

No. PLU religion professors do not expect students to claim any religious tradition. Indeed, PLU students come from no religious backgrounds as well as very diverse religious backgrounds. Here, religion courses ask students to engage in the academic study of religion, not in religious indoctrination. Students are graded on their ability to do course work, not on their personal beliefs. This is how religion is studied at most Lutheran colleges and universities.

If I have religious or spiritual beliefs, will they be challenged in class?

Coming to a more mature understanding of any belief about oneself or the world is not easy – there is no growth without hard work. This is why PLU promises both challenge and support in every course. Religion professors excel at the ability to challenge students and to support them in the rigorous and fascinating study of religion.

Are all PLU professors Lutheran or Christian?

No. PLU religion professors are not hired because of religious affiliation. They are hired to teach here because they are excellent teachers and scholars in their field of expertise. They teach here because they recognize the enormous influence of religion in human life today and in the past. They want to help you understand that influence better. They also teach here because they appreciate and respect the religious commitments held by students, staff, faculty, and alumni of the university.

Will a religion professor try to force his or her own personal convictions on me?

No. Because of their advanced studies and teaching experience, PLU religion professors recognize that there are diverse and sometimes conflicting viewpoints on any given issue. Their purpose is not to take one side but to help you understand why people, in the past or the present, hold different religious convictions that shape their views of human life on this earth.