AMST 3003 Explore Religious, Cultural, and Legal Literacy

Explore the diversity of practices, beliefs, and perspectives within hate-impacted religious and cultural groups across the U.S. and in your community. Learn frameworks that help explain the religious, cultural, and legal dimensions of American communities. Examine the diversity of religious and cultural groups, and those impacted by anti-Muslim bigotry in particular, and how to grow your knowledge as a way to challenge hate proactively.
America Indivisible · March 10, 2021

Racialized anti-Muslim bigotry is not just a Muslim problem. This form of hate impacts Sikh Americans and Americans of other faiths or no religious affiliation who appear to be Muslim. America is home to numerous cultural and ethnic groups harmed by this and other forms of bigotry. And with over 350,000 religious congregations in the United States, faith communities, too, form pillars of social infrastructure. As influential centers of community gathering and mobilization, religious and cultural organizations present an opportunity for public officials to engage with constituents they may not otherwise be able to reach.

In this course, you will develop your religious and cultural literacy skills by mapping the evolving religious and cultural landscape of the United States and your local community. In particular, you will use a three-part framework focused on Belief, Behavior, and Belonging to investigate the diversity of beliefs and practices within religious and cultural communities.

Equipped with foundational knowledge in your local community’s religious and cultural landscape, you will learn how to apply legal frameworks for engaging with religion in the public sphere to inform your civic efforts.

Learning Objectives

  • Map the landscape of religious, cultural, and ethnic diversity in your city, state, or county, including the institutional structure of local religious and cultural communities.
  • Explain the variety of traditions within and across religious communities, how they (historically and currently) relate to each other, and the various ways that diverse traditions influence local and global communities, cultures, and hierarchies.
  • Identify credible sources of information when faced with religious and cultural practice questions or observance, including holidays of local religious, cultural, and ethnic communities.
  • Understand the religious liberty clauses of the First Amendment.



Melissa Levinson MA

Curriculum Writer, America Indivisible
Curriculum Developer, Islamic Networks Group (ING)

Usra Ghazi MTS

Senior Advisor, America Indivisible

Lida Azim MA

Program Manager
America Indivisible

Benjamin P. Marcus

Religious Literacy Specialist
Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute

Dr. Nathan C. Walker

President, 1791 Delegates

Civic Education for a Common Good

We apply the U.S. Department of Education’s Consensus Statements about Constitutional Approaches for Teaching about Religion

▸ Our approach to religion is academic, not devotional;
▸ We strive for student awareness of religions, but do not press for student acceptance of any religion;
▸ We sponsor the study about religion, not the practice of religion;
▸ We expose students to a diversity of religious views, but may not impose any particular view;
▸ We educate about all religions, we do not promote or denigrate any religion;
▸ We inform students about religious beliefs and practices, it does not seek to conform students to any particular belief or practice.

We apply the American Academy of Religion’s “Religious Literacy Guidelines”

▸ “Religious Literacy Guidelines for College Students.” American Academy of Religion, 2019.
▸ “Teaching About Religion: AAR Guidelines for K-12 Public Schools.” American Academy of Religion, April 2010.

We apply the National Council for the Social Studies C3 Frameworks for Religious Studies

College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards, “Religious Studies Companion Document for the C3 Framework.” Silver Spring, MD: National Council for the Social Studies, 2017.