Lived Religion, Six-Point Framework and Ms. Marvel
Dr. Tim Hall
For students to fully participate in civic life filled with religious diversity, they need to understand the diversity and complexity of religious beliefs and traditions. To gain this understanding, educators should use the lived religion model. This approach, advocated by Henry Goldschmidt of Interfaith Center of New York, takes religion out of “the rarified realm of doctrine and text and places it instead within the give-and-take of a multicultural public sphere.” (1)
To put lived religion into practice, teachers need to use the constitutionally sound and accessible framework. Benjamin Marcus of the Religious Freedom Center Freedom Forum Institute provides this framework in Chapter 1 of Teaching about Religion in the Social Studies Classroom. Points one through three of the framework come from Guidelines for Teaching about Religion in K-12 Public Schools in the U.S. published by the American Academy of Religion, while points four through six of the framework come from the Religious Freedom Center Freedom Forum Institute. Using this six-point framework, teachers can successfully integrate lived religion model that avoids the generalizations and oversimplifications of the old religious traditions-based model.
Points one through three of the six-point framework originate from the cultural studies approach to religion advocated by Diane Moore of the Harvard Divinity School Religion and Public Life. A video produced by the Harvard Divinity School detailing this methodology is an excellent resource in conveying this approach.
- Point One: Religions are diverse and not internally homogenous.
- Point Two: Religions are dynamic and changing, not static and fixed.
- Point Three: Religions are embedded in the culture, not isolated from them. (2)
The Cultural Studies Approach to Religion
Points four through six are based on the 3Bs of The Religious Freedom Center Freedom Forum Institute. The 3Bs are behavior, belief, and belonging.
- Point Four: Religious beliefs (theology and doctrine) affect the lives of people in a variety of ways in daily life.
- Point Five: Behaviors (rites, rituals, habits, and practices) affect belief and belonging to religious communities.
- Point Six: Belonging (communities of co-religionists) affect a person’s behaviors and beliefs. (3)
If an educator can convey the complexity of this interchange of beliefs, behaviors, and belonging that is both historically and culturally embedded, students will have insight into the uniqueness of religious identities.
The 3Bs of Religious Identity Formation (4)
Used as a whole, this six-point framework is inclusive of the lived religion model. The framework allows teachers to develop constitutionally sound lessons that uncover a lived religions and their importance to local, national, and global cultures. This is extremely valuable in developing students with a deeper understanding of religious literacy and diversity and higher levels of global competence.
For the classroom, Below, I have created a simple graphic organizer based on the six-point framework. Students can complete the organizer while reading the graphic novel Ms. Marvel: No Normal or watching portions of the new Disney TV series Ms. Marvel to help build a fuller understanding of Islam (see trailer below). The graphic organizer aligns with standards from the National Council for the Social Studies C3 Framework: Religious Studies Companion Document (D2.Rel.2.9-12, D2.Rel.3.9-12, D2.Rel.4.9-12, D2.Rel.5.9-12, D2.Rel.6.9-12, D2.Rel.7.9-12, D2.Rel.8.9-12, and D2.Rel.9.9-12) making it very fun, appropriate and applicable classroom lesson.
Lived Religion Graphic Organizer
Ms. Marvel Trailer
(1) Henry Goldschmidt, “Chapter 7: Teaching Lived Religion Through Literature: Classroom Strategies for Community-Based Learning” in Haynes, Charles C., ed. Teaching about Religion in the Social Studies Classroom.
(2) American Academy of Religion, Guidelines for Teaching about Religion in K-12 Public Schools in the U.S. published by the American Academy of Religion.
(3) Benjamin Marcus, “Chapter 1: Teaching About Religion in Public Schools,” in Haynes, Charles C., ed. Teaching about Religion in the Social Studies Classroom.
(4) “Religious Identity Formation,” Religious Freedom Center, accessed March 17, 2022, https://www.religiousfreedomcenter.org/grounding/identity/.