Business Meeting & Program

Friday, June 21, 2019 – 1:00-2:00pm

Room 08/09
Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel
999 Ninth Street NW
Washington, DC



Benjamin P. Marcus
Religious Freedom Center, Freedom Forum Institute


The 3 B’s: Belief, Behavior, Belonging

Popular definitions of religious literacy do not capture the reality of lived religion in a plural age. Utilizing language as a metaphor for religion, this presentation differentiates between religious fluency among co-religionists and the multilingual ability to read and interpret the vocabulary of the “language” of the religious other.

Whereas advocates for biblical literacy and world religions courses often reinforce an essentialist understanding of religion that presents only the “standard” version of a language, in this presentation Mr. Marcus will suggest an alternative 3B Framework that encourages students to consider how the interrelationship of belief, behavior, and belonging creates religious “dialects.”

A pedagogy built around the 3B Framework encourages students to compare and contrast the construction of religious languages in a linguistic mode, analyzing the importance of belief, behavior, and belonging for individuals or communities. This new framework, reflected in new national guidelines for religion and education in primary and secondary schools, opens possibilities for fruitful inter-religious dialogue between “multilingual linguists” who can engage the most meaningful aspects of interlocutors’ religious identity.

About our Speaker and the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute

The Religious Freedom Center seeks to cultivate three competencies:

  • legal literacy, so that people understand the history, meaning and significance of the religious liberty principles of the First Amendment;
  • religious literacy, so that people recognize how religion operates in people’s private and public lives; and
  • civil dialogue, so that we are able to have informed, respectful conversations about legal and religious issues that are important.

The Center provides training and curricular resources for public and private school educators committed to teaching about religion, both academically and constitutionally. Our guidelines about religious freedom in schools — developed with groups across the religious and political spectrum — help educators create classrooms that welcome students of all religions and none.

Benjamin P. Marcus is the Religious Literacy Specialist with the Religious Freedom Center. He has developed religious literacy programs for public schools, universities, U.S. government organizations, and private foundations, and has delivered presentations on religion at universities and nonprofits in the U.S. and abroad.