Religion & Community 1995-2001

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Religion and Community was a regular newsletter published by The Polis Center that related general findings of the Project on Religion and Urban Culture and provided updates regarding the project. This newsletter was intended for a general audience.

It was published from September 1995 to March 2001. Each issue has a topical title.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 10 of 14
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    A Word about POLIS
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    Public Teaching and Public Learning
    This issue of Religion & Community highlights how Polis has worked with local religious educators. Various Polis projects have uncovered a wealth of information on the way religion has shaped the city—and how the city has influenced the experience and expression of religion.
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    Creating Community
    The Project on Religion and Urban Culture is discovering how and where religion rubs shoulders to create community in Indianapolis. We are working with neighborhoods to learn how religious institutions and people of faith function in these communities. In some areas, such as Mapleton-Fall Creek, churches work intimately with other institutions on issues of importance to the neighborhood. In other areas, religious organizations are much less visible. What should we make of these differences? With the aid of neighborhood and religious bodies, we are recognizing the dynamic and diverse nature of communities in Indianapolis. Charting the intersection of faith and community also has practical benefits, especially if primary responsibility for human services passes from government to religious and other not-for-profit organizations.
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    Religion and Social Capital
    Clearly, religion is an important source of social capital in this city. Yet it is not always so. Many churches and synagogues report sporadic attendance. Clergy feel isolated from their neighborhoods and from each other. Many congregations lack resources to serve communities beyond their walls. At times, people of faith also seem to be bowling alone.
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    Complex Relationships
    What is the relationship of churches, synagogues, and mosques to their neighborhoods? The Polis Center's interest in these questions is more than academic. What we learn has important implications for public policy. Consider welfare reform. Is it true, as some people assume, that religious institutions are closely linked to their neighborhoods, thus allowing them to serve local human needs more effectively?
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    Place and Identity
    As part of the Project on Religion and Urban Culture, local artists spent much of the past year observing religion in Indianapolis and reflecting on its meaning. In 1998, Indiana University Press will publish Falling Toward Grace: Images of Faith and Culture in Indianapolis, a collection of their essays and photographs. You will find excerpts inside this page.
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    Windows on Culture
    The Polis Center has produced a six-part video series, Religion as a Window on Culture, that takes us "inside" various religions in Indianapolis. The impulse to religion is nearly universal. The videos suggest that what seems strange in another culture may, on closer examination, resolve into something very familiar. While the ideas may be expressed in different ways, most religions locate the sacred in time, in space, in memory, and in the journey toward the sacred.
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    In Search of Belonging: The Hispanic Religious Presence in Indianapolis
    Hispanics, the fasting-growing group of immigrants in America, have only recently come to Indianapolis in significant numbers. Even today they may compose no more than two percent of the population and are widely dispersed around the city. These facts have shaped the culture of Hispanics in particular ways, including their patterns of worship.
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    Race and Religion in Indianapolis
    At about 22 percent, Indianapolis has a typical proportion of African-Americans for a city of its size. The city has been and continues to be composed primarily of a white majority and a significant black minority. Given the city’s history of formal segregation and Ku Klux Klan activity, racial differences are cast in rather stark relief—in religion as in other matters. In response to a Polis Center survey, Indianapolis pastors most often identified racism as the civic problem the religious community needed to confront. Most faiths promote the equality and fraternity of all believers, yet in practice religious congregations are among the most segregated of institutions. An article in this issue examines the history of the Pentecostal movement and race. Another looks at Celebration of Hope, a local effort at interfaith worship.
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    Faith Based Youth Outreach Programs
    Bringing their youth into the community and tradition of the faith is a primary concern for most congregations. Sabbath school, recreation and social groups,and rites-of-passage classes prepare young people for adulthood and for participation in the congregation. Generally, these programs are aimed at the youth of the congregation itself. Of the approximately 1,200 congregations in the Indianapolis area, the vast majority conduct such programs. The Polis Center, in conjunction with Indianapolis-based PSL and Associates, Inc., studied the extent and efficacy of these programs.
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