After the Election: Looking Ahead

A Statement by the AAR Board of Directors

Approved by the AAR Board of Directors on December 8, 2016

From time to time the AAR receives requests from its members to address important matters that impact our work as a society of scholars, teachers, and researchers. During the Annual Meeting last month our Board received two such requests, both of which asked us to speak to concerns raised in the US election and its aftermath. Following the procedures outlined in our Policy on Public Statements our Board has adopted the following statement. We believe that it addresses our view of recent events and underscores the values that inform our work.

Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., AAR President
Jack Fitzmier, AAR Executive Director

In recent months, our nation experienced a political campaign that was bitter, divisive, and polarizing. During the campaign and since the election, a range of behaviors has appeared with new vigor and force in our national life: deeply offensive language aimed at others; emboldened discrimination against racial and ethnic minority groups; threats to the undocumented; marginalization of many of the religious groups that we study; assaults on facts, inquiry, and truth telling. These actions and attitudes erode our democratic structures and threaten the common good. They also threaten fundamental elements of higher education: the willingness to consider a variety of perspectives, the exercise of rigorous inquiry, and the discipline of reasoned discourse. For these reasons, the American Academy of Religion condemns these behaviors in the strongest terms.

We have just completed our Annual Meetings, during which the campaign and election were discussed in scheduled sessions, in special forums, and in countless informal conversations. We also did what we do so very well: shared our research, met with publishers, reconnected with colleagues from across the country, and formed new scholarly networks. In all of this activity, we lived out core values that have, in recent planning sessions and member focus groups, been reaffirmed by our Board and Staff:

  • Academic Excellence and Professional Responsibility
  • Free Inquiry and Critical Examination
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Respect and Transparency

These values resist the corrosive behaviors noted above. They help move us forward, not backward; they are constructive, not destructive. As we move into uncertain days ahead, our Academy shall continue to seek ways to honor and enact these values in all that we say and do. In this, we foster excellence in our learned society, strengthen the educational structures in which we work, and empower the students whom we serve.