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Religion moves people

Faith communities play a role in people’s lives. If we take a closer look at them, we realise what people moves and why they make certain decisions. In a dynamic, complex society like ours, it is important that we reflect on religion and understand the role of our own background and tradition. We cannot make sense of religion just like that, without investigating our own roots. There is always something that influences us, whether we like it or not.


What messages do certain traditions come with? Do we know why different religions make certain choices? In our society, we are so apt to jump to conclusions and to express opinions based on our own world view that we scarcely pause for thought and examine a religion for what it is. The Faculty of Religion and Theology studies all kinds of cultural religious phenomena. Ruard: ‘We do not approach this subject matter from a purely neutral position. You can try, but it just will not work. Religion motivates people and we want to investigate that in a relevant way.’


It takes time and courage to see other people for who they really are. For this reason, you have to know who you are yourself and you have to be able to question the other person without prior knowledge of what the outcome is or should be. The Faculty of Religion and Theology asks critical questions, trains people to guide others, and produces excellent leaders for a large number of faith communities and religious traditions. Ruard: ‘We encourage our students and staff to allow their personalities to shine through. Our differences should be allowed to be much more visible, but we still need to meet and connect.’


Societal issues are high on the agenda. Religion plays a major role in society, yet we do not always know how to address it. Religion affects the government and the education and health care systems. Our faculty therefore runs research centres to study issues relating to Peace and Justice and Religion and Sustainable Development. Together with NGOs, government bodies, the business community, and other parties, we examine the positive and negative impact of religion on these societal issues through round tables and other fora.

Prof. Ruard Ganzevoort is the Dean of the Faculty of Religion and Theology and Professor of Practical Theology.