Contrary to popular expectation, religion has flourished in the modern world, with old and new religious forms and practices being appropriated, revived, and clung to as critical identity markers for most contemporary people around the globe. Many of these reconstituted, "modern" religious identities have proved beneficial to society, motivating civic engagement, charitable activism, and personal piety. At the same time, many of these same new religious identities have created inter-communal strife, religious violence, and profound societal tensions. How do we understand the central role that religion plays in the lives of individual adherents? Are some forms of religion just disordered and out of step with modernity or is religion just one dimension among many complex factors that shape the motivations and behavior of modern people?
Presenter: Matthew D. Taylor is a lecturer and professor of religious studies at Georgetown University and The George Washington University. He holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Georgetown, a Master's degree in Theological Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor's degree in English and Religious Studies from the University of California, Irvine. His research focuses on contemporary religious movements in America (especially Salafi Muslims and Evangelical Christians) and the adaptations they make to accommodate religious pluralism and modern concerns.