Baylor Center Receives $716,000 Templeton Grant

Feb. 14, 2005
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by Vicki Marsh Kabat

Baylor University's Center for Religious Inquiry Across the Disciplines (CRIAD) has received a $716,000 research grant from the John Templeton Foundation to conduct research on different aspects of religion's impact on society.

"This award helps to send the message that Baylor is becoming a national hub for cutting-edge research on religion," said Byron Johnson, who came to Baylor from the University of Pennsylvania in fall 2004 as CRIAD's inaugural director.

The award from the John M. Templeton Foundation will make it possible for Baylor scholars to conduct a longitudinal survey of Americans' religious beliefs, practices, and values. CRIAD will partner with the Gallup Organization to conduct a comprehensive survey of religious beliefs that examines in much more detail than previous research how faith impacts such factors as civic engagement, volunteerism and consumption patterns. Johnson will be joined by co-principal investigators Rodney Stark, University Professor of Social Sciences and Distinguished Senior Fellow at CRIAD; Carson Mencken, associate professor of sociology and anthropology; Paul Froese, assistant professor of sociology; Christopher Bader, assistant professor of sociology; and Jerry Park, assistant professor of sociology.

CRIAD is a university-wide research center that seeks to approach the study of religion from multiple disciplines. The center is part of Graduate Studies and was developed to offer collaborative research opportunities for religion scholars across the disciplines, both at Baylor and nationally. Johnson had been involved with similar think tanks on religious issues at Vanderbilt, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton. At Penn, he directed its Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society to national recognition in less than two years.

"For too long, religion has been marginalized, neglected, and understudied within the academy," he said. "I hope that CRIAD, as a research center in an academic institution, will help put religion really where it belongs - front and center - on the academic landscape."

The John Templeton Foundation promotes the pursuit of new insights at the boundary between theology and science through an empirically focused methodology, drawing together talented representatives from a wide spectrum of fields of expertise, according to its Web site at www.templeton.org.

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