Supplemental Writing Activities for America: Religions and Religion
1) Comparative Essay Options:
a) Choose two religions to compare and contrast.
b) Choose one religion to compare and contrast in multiple situations, such as comparing
the religion as it is practiced among different groups or within different time periods.
c) Choose a theme (ex. healing, millennialism, community). Compare and contrast multiple
religions using your chosen theme.
Tips for writing comparative essays:
o Simply listing aspects of both topics does not equal a comparative essay. Such an
approach leaves much of the comparative work to the reader, who has to figure
out the similarities and differences between the lists. Even if you feel that the
similarities and differences are obvious, articulate them clearly for your readers.
o Comparisons should be meaningful, fair, and well organized.
o Balance the commonalities and the contrasts within the paper.
2) Media Essay:
Find a piece of current media on a religion covered in the textbook. This could include,
but is not limited to, a short video clip, an advertisement, a newspaper article, a blog
entry, or a website.
Contextualize the information using the textbook or additional research. The information
can be situated in relation to the religion’s history, beliefs, practices, social forms, and/or
other trends.
The image of the religion within your media sample may not “match” the general
description of the religion in the textbook and secondary sources. Include a short
reflection on why some elements within your media sample differ from the general trends
of the religion.
3) Options for Essays on Imagined Situations:
a) Choose two religious leaders from the textbook. Imagine that these two leaders were to
meet and have a meaningful conversation about religion. Given what you know about
them, their traditions, and their contexts, what topics might they discuss? What views
might they share? What disagreements might they have?
b) Choose a significant event in American religious history. Imagine yourself as one of the
main actors in the event, and describe your participation and reactions given what you
know about the event, the religious tradition(s) involved, and the historical context. Then
imagine yourself as other characters, such as a member of the opposing side, an outsider
looking in on the event, or a family member of one of the main actors. Describe how the
event looks from these different perspectives. Do these perspectives reveal more about
the significance of the event? If so, in what ways?