Richard J. Callahan, Jr., Chair

221 Arts & Science Building, Columbia, MO 65211-7090 / 573-882-4769


The Department of Religious Studies offers the undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree with a major or minor in Religious Studies, and the graduate Masters of Arts degree in Religious Studies.

Our faculty members have won prestigious awards for their excellence in teaching and advising. They are nationally and internationally recognized scholars in the academic study of religion. We have particular strengths in the following areas:

  • American Religious History
  • Native American Religions
  • Biblical studies
  • History of Christianity
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Religions of East Asia
  • Religions of South Asia
  • Religions of Indigenous peoples

The Department is particularly interested in the intersections of religion with neuroscience, popular culture, gender, class, and society. Our methods and approaches are multidisciplinary, combining textual, historical, sociological, anthropological, psychological, comparative, and cultural studies perspectives.

Donate to the Jill Raitt Opportunities for Excellence in Religious Studies Fund


July 8, 2016

The Department of Religious Studies joins the rest of the nation in mourning the lives of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. We also mourn the dead and wounded police officers and civilians in Dallas. One of our jobs in our discipline is to try to understand how the classification of human (and non-human) beings and communities enables (or disrupts) systems of power and concepts of value. It is important in this regard to acknowledge and examine the central role that race has played, and continues to play, in American life and death. Only by talking about this topic openly and plainly, with the academic tools at our disposal, will we have any hope of healing..

January 6, 2016

Religious Studies faculty, including professors Amponsah, Callahan, Duncan, and Gregory, Kelley, and Lawless participated in the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Biblical Literature in November. Alumns Adam Miller and Emily Clark also presented their work.

Prof. Daniel Cohen has been very productive this year. He was contributing author to the following publications:

  • “Factor Structure of the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality in US and Indian Samples with Traumatic Brain Injury” published online in the Journal of Religion and Health on December 26, 2015.
  • “Selflessness as a Foundation of Spiritual Transcendence: Perspectives from the Neurosciences and Religious Studies” posted online by the International Journal of the Psychology of Religion on November 30, 2015 (and currently in press).
  • “Relationships between Negative Spiritual Beliefs and Health Outcomes for Individuals with Chronic Disabilities and Medical Conditions” in the Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, 17, no. 2 (May 2015): 135-152.
  • Prof. Dan Cohen was a contributing author to an article titled “Functional and Structural Indices of Empathy: Evidence for Self-orientation as a Neuropsychological Foundation of Empathy” in Neuropsychology 29, no. 3 (May 2015): 463-472.

Current News » Archive »


The Religious Studies Majors’ Dinner will take place at 7:00pm on Thursday, April 28. Please contact the Department for details.

Dr. Judith Weisenfeld of Princeton University will be delivering the Eighth Annual Distinguished Lecture on Religion and Public Life on April 12 at 7:30 pm in Jesse Wrench Auditorium in Memorial Union. The Title of her talk will be “Apostles of Race: Religion and Black Racial Identity in the Great Migration.” More information available here:

Professor Signe Cohen will be presenting a talk for the MU Honors College's "Speaking of Culture" series on Sunday, September 20. The title of her talk is "Romancing the Robot: Humans, Machines, and Doomed Romance in Ancient Buddhist Robot Tales." This series is free and open to the public! The event takes place at Orr Street Studies, 106 Orr Street in downtown Columbia. More information here:

This year’s Paine Lecture Series has been announced!

October 16, 2015
Dr. Kelly E. Hayes, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University
“Intergalactic Space-Time Travelers: Envisioning the New Age in Brazil’s Valley of the Dawn”

November 6, 2015
Dr. Kathleen Kennedy, Associate Professor of English at Penn State Brandywine
“The Puzzle of Abbot Islip’s Book, Tudor Pop Music, and King Henry’s Lady Chapel”

March 11, 2016
Dr. John Schmalzbauer, Blanche Gorman Strong Chair in Protestant Studies in the Religious Studies Department at Missouri State University
“The Unsecular Campus: The Diversification of Student Religious Life in America”

April 19, 2016
Dr. Brannon Ingram, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Northwestern University
“Of Books and Bodies: Economies of Knowledge in Modern Islam”

All Paine Lectures are free and open to the public.

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