Society for the Scientific Study of Religion
2016 Annual Meeting
October 28-30
InterContinental Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia

Religion and Public Life in Comparative Perspective

The theme of the 2016 SSSR conference centers on the diverse public roles of religion, where pluralism and globalization are recasting religion’s public face. Public life is something that is shared with others; it moves beyond the private realm. Religious worship, when done corporately, is a public activity, and public life extends to civic as well as political involvement. Religious actors and institutions can shape various aspects and spheres of public life, and they, in turn, can be shaped by their public involvement.

Religion continues to be a force in public life—locally as well as internationally, across regions as well as cultures. To address the diverse public roles that religion can play in the contemporary world, we invite new assessments of religion in public life framed in comparative analyses—whether across religious and social groups, cultural settings, or nation-states. We particularly encourage proposals that place public religion in broader comparative perspectives, leveraging cross-national variation to develop concepts and test theories. But, of course, proposals for panels and papers on any topic in the scientific study of religion are welcome.

Potential topics related to the conference theme include studies of:
•how involvement (or lack of involvement) in public worship shapes individual attitudes and behavior

•the involvement of different religious groups, organizations, or institutions in the 2016 American presidential election

•the role of religion in shaping civic life across different religious or cultural groups, geographic regions, or nation-states

•the strength or weakness of religious political parties in North America, Europe, the Mideast, Asia, Latin America, and Africa;

•the impact of religious social movements on a range of issues, such as education policy, social service provision and human rights protection;

•the place of religion in constitutions and law, particularly putting prominent cases like the United States into comparative perspective;

•the impact of transnational forces on the public role of religion within particular states;

•the relationship between of economic development and public manifestations of religion; and

•the political or social meaning of secularism across regions, and the political impact of “secular” actors on the place of religion in public life.

All session and paper proposals must be submitted via the on-line submission system of the SSSR’s web site,, which opens February 2, 2016. A session proposal requires: 1) session proposer’s full contact information; 2) a session title; and 3) an abstract of not more than 150 words describing the goal of the session and how the session will contribute to the scientific knowledge of religion. Individual paper proposals require the name(s) of the author(s), first author’s full contact information, an abstract of not more than 150 words that succinctly describes the question(s) motivating the research, the data and methods used, and what the paper expects to contribute to the knowledge or understanding of religion.

Submissions Open: February 2, 2016 (see
Submissions Close: March 31, 2016
Decision Notification: April 30, 2016

Direct questions to: David Buckley, Program Chair, University of Louisville