Since the 1960s, America has become more religiously diverse than ever before. But bias against religious minorities has kept pace with the diversification of the religious landscape. Hate crimes and microaggressions against those who wear visible religious dress have been especially pronounced since 9/11. Here in Ohio, we have large numbers of new Americans from Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Mauritania, Somalia, and Senegal, among whom are adherents of non-Christian religions such as Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism. These new Americans might well fear the possibility of being misunderstood.
The Visible Religion Lab developed ways to counter bias against religious groups through the production of public-facing scholarship. Students in the lab collaborated to produce audio and video interviews, summaries of survey research, and teaching modules to help high school teachers in the Cincinnati area teach about visible religious communities in Ohio. Modules cover Catholicism, Hinduism, Judaism, Pentecostal and Orthodox Christianity, other minority religions, and religious women. These modules are available to the public on the Visible Religion page of Miami's Department of Comparative Religion.
Students involved in the lab also built relationships with two of Ohio’s most important religious communities: Bhutanese Hindu refugees and Somalian Muslim refugees. With faculty guidance, students conducted interviews to illuminate the obstacles faced when members of a particular religious community wear visible religious dress at work or in public school settings. To inform their own production of public-facing scholarship, students analyzed the coverage of particular religious communities in Ohio media to uncover how members of minority religions are represented in news media in the state. This work on religion in the news is presented in a separate module on the project page.