Bi the Way: Rethinking Categories of Religious Identity

By Elizabeth Ursic.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 28, 2014 $US5.00

A single category of religious identification no longer serves a significant and growing segment of the U.S. population. The percentage of people describing themselves using a single religious term such as “Lutheran”, “Jewish”, or “Hindu” is shrinking. Identification by religious affiliation no longer reflects how many Americans view the complexity of their religious beliefs and practices. Younger generations in particular are identifying with broader, more general terms such as "spiritual" or "spiritual but not religious". Despite these trends, the field of religious studies continues to use religious affiliation as its primary way to categorize religious identification. In contrast, the discipline of gender studies has worked for more than half a century to re-conceptualize how gender is defined and categorized. This article explores what type of religious studies research might be generated if concepts from gender studies such as bi and trans were also used to investigate new patterns of religious identification.

Keywords: Religious Identity, Comparative Religion, Lived Religion

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 3, Issue 4, May 2014, pp.29-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 28, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 348.751KB)).

Dr. Elizabeth Ursic

Professor of Religious Studies, Mesa Community College, Mesa, Arizona, USA

Elizabeth Ursic is a professor of Religious Studies at Mesa Community College where she teaches Religious Studies and Women and Gender Studies courses. Last spring, she was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Edinburgh where she completed a book manuscript on female images of God in Christian worship. She holds a PhD in Religious Studies from Arizona State University, and an MDiv in Religion and Art from Yale Divinity School. She was a Fellow at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and has recorded a CD, Unspoken Touch. She is a certified spiritual director.