“Conservative” and “liberal” – they’re words we hear every day, so we know what they mean, right? Well, in a religious context, we’re not so sure. For example, does “conservative” religion refer to Biblical literalism or to strongly held beliefs and inward conviction? What about liberal religion – open-mindedness and social justice, or lax theology and moral relativism? How do these contrasts and variations differ across cultures and religions? Is it possible to understand ones religious-ideological opponents well enough that they can tell get "get it" and yet still disagree? The purpose of the Institute's Spectrums Project is to provide insight into these questions.
The Spectrums Project operates under the leadership of Boston University researchers Drs. Wesley Wildman (philosophy, theology, and religious studies) and Catherine Caldwell-Harris (psychology). It is an ambitious attempt to investigate how ideological spectrums manifest themselves in religious settings. The project has three phases: a literature review, an empirical study (including the development of survey instruments), and a real-world educational laboratory.