Regional News


January 16, 2020

AAR Releases Mission Statement for Regions

American Academy of Religion Mission in the Regions

AAR fosters its mission through energetic cultivation of accessible regional intellectual networks and identities to serve members where they live and work, and to respond to local publics and concerns.
Through its ten regions, the Academy advances its mission to foster excellence in the academic study of religion and enhance the public understanding of religion. It does so by supporting each region both financially and administratively, promoting member affiliation with a region as a benefit of Academy membership. The regions are where members live and work. The Academy’s regional organizations provide members with ten additional annual conferences for scholarly exchange, career mentoring, cooperative research, and experimentation. Regional conferences mitigate the financial constraints that represent an inclusion barrier to presenting scholarly work to peers and engaging with the Academy. Regional organizations provide intentional and hands-on equipping of and training opportunities for diverse members of the Academy, including students, contingent faculty, tenure track faculty, retired scholars, and those working outside the academy. Regional conferences are often a scholar’s initial contact with the Academy, thereby cultivating new Academy membership. Regional conferences are often where a scholar makes their first presentation and serves first in leadership. Regional conferences are also often where junior scholars present work in progress, mature scholars engage with those outside their subfields, and retired scholars present new work. Academy policies and values extend to the regions, while the regions raise up to the Academy innovation and grassroots concerns. The regions afford the Academy the space to delve into themes and pressing issues indigenous to each region and to engage their local publics. The Academy’s mission, then, is to maintain the unique qualities of each region and to encourage its leadership to cultivate its regional identity through engaging its local members and publics. Every member of the Academy should be served by a regional affiliation, whether defined by geography or scholarly subfield or personal affection.


January 5, 2020



November 7, 2019

SSSR Call for Papers 2020

SSSR 2020 Annual Meeting | October23-25,2020 | Westin Convention Center, Pittsburgh PA

Religion and Spirituality in a Frightening World

We are living in frightening times. The World Health Organization reports that rates of anxiety and depression continue to rise as people around the globe are bombarded by a wide range of circumstances that may evoke fear. What roles might religion—variously defined—and spirituality play in causing and ameliorating anxieties in today’s world?

Social scientists across disciplines who study religion and spirituality are remarkably well situated to add essential layers to our understanding of frightening social forces. For example, we cannot fully understand the rise of authoritarian nationalism, or efforts to resist it, without interrogating religion’s power as a social identity. We also need to understand when and how religion might bolster resistance to change. Many of today’s deepest divisions between and among humans are essentially different reactions to change. How does religion fuel—and try to bridge—divisions in attitudes about changing social norms, migration, new means of communication, and climate change? And how might religion contribute to perpetuating and challenging social and economic inequalities?

Meanwhile, religion itself is changing in myriad ways. How do forces such as declining rates of religious participation, state suppression of religion, and the increasing relevance of the internet to religious and spiritual practice affect religion’s capacity to help people and societies to cope? How well do 21st- century religions and spiritualities work to support mental health, provide meaning in everyday life, build communities rooted in social trust, and promote prosocial behavior and civic engagement?

Submissions Open: February 1, 2020 Submissions Close: March 31, 2020 Decision Notification: April 30, 2020

Please submit proposals for individual papers, full panels, author-meets-critics sessions, and roundtables via the online portal at, choosing the SSSR option on the submission form.

Please direct all inquiries to the SSSR 2019 Program Chairs Job Chen (Department of Psychology, Clemson University) and Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme (Department of Sociology and Legal Studies, University of Waterloo) at


August 28, 2019

The AAR Board of Directors has issued a public statement opposing white nationalism.

Statement Against White Nationalism

Statement of the AAR Board of Directors

August 12, 2019

The American Academy of Religion resoundingly condemns white nationalism and urges all members, individually, institutionally, and collectively, to fight against white supremacy and white nationalism while standing alongside those who bear the brunt of this violent ideology, willful ignorance, and oppressive behavior. The American Academy of Religion advocates for the study of religion as a powerful means to resist white supremacist structures, policies, and thought patterns. In promoting its values of academic excellence, professional responsibility, free inquiry, critical examination, diversity, inclusion, respect, and transparency in the study of religion, the American Academy of Religion hopes to help uncover and dismantle white supremacy at the structural and personal levels. The American Academy of Religion acknowledges that the lives of scholars, teachers, and students of religion are made better, more productive, and more meaningful by diversity of all kinds.


June 28

The AAR Board of Directors has issued a public statement opposing the Quebec government's Bill 21.
Bill 21 aims to enforce the religious neutrality of the state by forbidding government employees to wear visible religious signs.

Opposing Quebec’s Bill 21

Statement of the AAR Board of Directors

June 28, 2019

On June 16, 2019, the National Assembly of Quebec approved new legislation, Bill 21, An act respecting the laicity of the State, that prohibits certain civil servants (including public school teachers) from wearing any item deemed a “religious symbol” during the performance of their official duties. It also imposes new restrictions on those seeking to deliver or access public services. As Premier François Legault explained, the purpose of the new law is to promote a secular public square and to affirm that “in a secular society...religion must not interfere with the affairs of the state.”

Despite those stated objectives, however, we believe that this legislation violates basic principles of equality before the law and that these legal provisions can have significant injurious consequences for members of our organization.

The American Academy of Religion has publicly affirmed diversity, inclusion, and respect among its central core values as a scholarly organization, and we believe that this legislation will impose substantial and unequal burdens on members of numerous religious minorities who seek to engage in various forms of public service, including teaching. As scholars of religion, we are keenly aware of the fundamental difficulties in defining the amorphous concept of “religious symbol,” and those difficulties leave this law open to substantial potential for discriminatory and biased enforcement. In addition, important recent scholarship has challenged the notion of “secularism” on which this legislation is based, and this analysis underlines the potential of this law to have pernicious social effects on various minority groups.

We join with other political leaders, academics, and human rights advocates in opposing this new law. The values of pluralism and equality are key to modern democratic societies, and all members of society should be encouraged to participate fully in public life, including the core mission of public education. This legislation runs counter to those fundamental civic values.