The religion department recognizes those students who demonstrate excellence in their studies and complete an honors thesis in the department.

Earning Honors

Students may earn honors recognition in religion or in philosophy and religion through the demonstration of excellence throughout their coursework and with the completion of an honors thesis.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

All candidates for honors are required to have a GPA of 3.40 in their major.

Honors Thesis

The honors thesis is a substantial piece of research, analysis, or critique completed under the guidance of a faculty adviser. The department awards honors on the basis of both the quality of the students’ written theses and their conduct of the honors defense.

Recognition of Honors Work

Rohan Chaudhari
"The Bengali Ontology:  An Interpretation of Kolkata’s Durga Puja"
Advisor: Harvey Sindima

Abbey Curtis
"Forgotten Cremation Ceremonies: Geertz, Asad, and the Role of Ritual in Post–1965 Bali"
Advisor: Megan Brankley Abbas

Kyle Dillon
"The Moabite Masquerade: Construction and Complication of Identity in the Book of Ruth"
Advisor: Lesleigh Cushing

Andrew Fite
"From the Pews to the Bench:  Examining the New Identity of White Christian America and the Emergence of its Speech-Oriented Legal Strategy"
Advisor: Jenna Reinbold
Serena Mathew
"The Religious Mind:  Considering Homo Religiosus in Light of Cognitive Science"
Advisor:  Ben Stahlberg

Hannah Sachs
"Trumpism as Religion:  An Explanatory Essay for Understanding the Reign of Donald J. Trump"
Advisor: Christopher Vecsey

Gillian Weatherford
"Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, Pro-America:  How Abortion Encapsulates Broad Religio-Political Visions for the United States"
Advisor: Jenna Reinbold

Angela Barrett
“When Faith Healing Does Not ‘Work’: Complicated Roles of Faith Healing in Christian History and Pentecostalism”
Adviser: Ben Stahlberg

Greer Harrison
“Sisters of Israel: The Rhetoric of the Hebrew Bible and Its Response to Rape in Genesis 34 and Samuel 13”
Adviser: Lesleigh Cushing

Alec Hufford
“To the Hebrews, To the City: Efficacious Ritual Co-Participation with the Heavenly Liturgy as Seen in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Second Temple Precursors, and Early Ecclesial Commentators”
Adviser: Georgia Frank

Sophie Louaillier
“Understanding Conversion: An Exploration of Conversion to Islam by Incarcerated African American Men”
Adviser: Jenna Reinbold

Marit Vangrow
“At the Intersection of Faith and Reproductive Justice: Elevating Progressive Religious Voices in America’s Abortion Debate”
Adviser: Jenna Reinbold

Jade Hoang
“Releasing the Good Religion: An Investigation into Buddhist Peace Building Movements in Sri Lanka and Vietnam”
Adviser: Jenna Reinbold

Rita Shehirian
"‘After You!’ Neuroscientific Insights for Thinking Theodicy and Suffering Otherwise"
Adviser: Ben Stahlberg

Lila Sullivan
“Purity, Pollution, and Ritual: A Scheme for Understanding Hindu Ritual Modification Based on Sacrality of Water in India”
Adviser: Joel Bordeaux

Dominic Wilkins
“Examining Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’ within Catholic and Environmental Thought”
Adviser: Chris Vecsey

Julia Queller
"Jesus Rocks: Contemporary Christian Music and the Problem of the Secular"
Adviser: Jenna Reinbold

Joanna Howe
"Gender in the Garden: Rethinking the Creation Story in the Modern Era"
Adviser: Lesleigh Cushing

Rachel Jean Lewis Gordh
"The Impact of Film and Media on Political Change in Myanmar: Combating Religious Nationalism, Xenophobia, and the Genocide of the Rohingya People"
Adviser: Mahinda Deegalle

Susanna Kvam
"Church versus Czech: The Protestant Roots of Czech Secularism"
Adviser: Ben Stahlberg

Emmett Potts
"Governance, Religious Tolerance, and the Democratization of Fiqh: Opportunities and Challenges"
Adviser: Aaron Spevack

Dana Laxer
"From Sarah to #CrazyJewishMom: Depictions of Jewish Mothers through the Ages"
Adviser: Lesleigh Cushing

Sarah Gilkes
"The Usurpation of Divine Sovereignty: The Family of Secularism as a Threat within Religious Fundamentalism"
Adviser: Jenna Reinbold

Jill Goeltzer
"The Divine Power of Dance. A Cross Cultural Analysis"
Adviser: Chris Vecsey

Will Sanchez
"Ritual, Literature, and the Sacred: An Exploration of Latin@ Religious Worldviews"
Adviser: Chris Vecsey

Allie Silverman
"Not in My House: The Religious Conservative Defense of the 'Traditional Family' in the Secular Age"
Adviser: Jenna Reinbold

Grace Song
"An Elephant in the Classroom: The Problematic Privatization of Religion"
Adviser: Jenna Reinbold

Jessica Yeo
"Transforming the Self and Society through Recitation: Order and Affect in the Sound, Emotion, and Meaning of Qur'anic Recitation"
Adviser: Aaron Spevack

John D. Beam
"The Paradoxes of Reinhold Niebuhr: Political Theology and Just War"
Adviser: Ben Stahlberg

Anna Bivins
"The Canon of Dorothy Day: An Intersection of Persons, Community, and Scripture"
Adviser: Chris Vecsey

Gillian Gamberdell
"The Catholic Sex Abuse Crisis as Religious Behavior"
Adviser: Jenna Reinbold

Zach Harris
"The Psychic Space of Belief"
Adviser: Lesleigh Cushing

Loretta Douglas
"Banning Shari'ah: How an Empty Threat Became a National Concern"
Adviser: Jenna Reinbold

Kristen Ellis
"Neurology and the Supernatural"
Adviser: Chris Vecsey

Isaac Kim
"A Christian Defense of the Problem of Evil"
Adviser: Ben Stahlberg

Ellie Sher
"Flying Unhindered in the Space In-Between: An Examination of Play's Role in Peacemaking"
Adviser: Georgia Frank

Will Younger
"Reinhold Niebuhr and the Theology of Christian Realism"
Adviser: Ben Stahlberg

Benae Beamon
"Preaching as Play: Black Preaching in a Hermeneutics Perspective"
Adviser: Harvey Sindima

Jamie Beddow
"Solutions to the Problem of Creatureliness"
Adviser: Ben Stahlberg

Hannah Dashefsky
"The Exclusion of Religious Doctrine from the Public Square: A Critical Analysis of John Rawls' Theory of Public Reason with Special Consideration of its Application to Roe v. Wade"
Adviser: Jenna Reinbold

Casey Davidow
"Religion in American Political Realignments"
Adviser: Lesleigh Cushing

Francesca Gallo
"'A Brief Galilean Vision': Process Theology and the Pursuit of the Common Good"
Adviser: Marilyn Thie

Lauren Kerby
"Rights v. Right: Creating and Contesting the Limits of Religious Freedom"
Adviser: Jenna Reinbold

Naveed Ghannad
"Self Power and Other Power in Zen and Pure Land Buddhist Traditions"
Adviser: John Ross Carter

Samantha Steinfeld
"'A Discourse of Return': An Exploration of the Significance of the 'Traditional Family' for Modern American Evangelicals"
Adviser: Jenna Reinbold

Brett Butler
"Karl Barth: A Survey of His Developing Theology"
Adviser: Harvey Sindima

Max Counter
"Dynamics of Doubt: Uncertainty and Religious Life"
Adviser: Chris Vecsey

Jeremy Fisher
"Paul Tillich: His Theology and Its Implications"
Adviser: Harvey Sindima

Eric McGown
"Dorothy Day: Radically Catholic"
Adviser: Chris Vecsey

Melissa Nozell
"Integrating Identities: The British Effect on Defining and Codifying Religion in South Asia"
Adviser: Eliza Kent