Navigating the Scholarship of Religion Together

For those seeking critical insight into the lived history of the Christian tradition and what it means for the world today.
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About Westar

Scholarship in Public, for the Public

Westar is a member-supported nonprofit organization. We conduct public, collaborative research seminars with academic scholars in the field of religion. Westar investigates issues in the history of Christianity and beyond to inform public discourse on culture, society, and civic life.

What We Do

Sharing Our Research

As a public-facing organization, we are committed to sharing the results of scholarly research in accessible language through publications, events, and other resources. Westar works in dialogue with the public to foster critical thinking about religion.


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Join Westar scholars in live conversations hosted via Zoom throughout the year.

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what we do

Upcoming Events

In "Letters and Papers from Prison," Dietrich Bonhoeffer critiques religion and proposes religionless Christianity.In this webinar, Bonhoeffer scholar, Dr. Lori Brandt Hale explores his idea of religionless Christianity, how it has been understood and used over time - including by early radical theologians - and what it all might mean for contemporary readers of Bonhoeffer.

with Dr. Susan M. (Elli) Elliott

Republican Jesus & the Second Amendment

Oct 19, 2022
7:00-8:30 PM EDT

with author Tony Keddie

About Westar

Our Story

Westar began in 1985 when Robert W. Funk invited 30 New Testament scholars to join him in the Jesus Seminar, a collaborative inquiry about the historical Jesus. Since its founding, Westar has held a series of innovative seminars on the origins of Christianity. But Funk’s founding vision was larger than scholarship for its own sake. His aim was to make religious literacy as ubiquitous as reading, writing, and arithmetic.

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What We Do

Why Our Work Matters

What does the Bible say about same-sex relationships? Did women have authority in the early Jesus movements? How were gender, sexuality, and morality understood in early Jesus movements? These are critical questions precisely because misrepresentations of Christian texts have shaped and continue to intersect with cultural, social, and political life in the US and throughout the world. Westar exists to pursue an honest and rigorous inquiry into the origins of the Christian tradition.

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What Our Members Say

Because of my heavy teaching load, I was drawn to the collaborative nature of Westar. As a participant in the Jesus Seminar and the Acts Seminar, I have been able to contribute to projects that I could not have hoped to complete on my own. To work with so many fellow scholars has been very rewarding, and the Associates have helped me see that work such as ours matters.

Perry Kea
Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, Chair, Philosophy and Religion Department, University of Indianapolis, Indiana

One of the most supportive institutions in my life and ministry was the [Westar Institute’s] Jesus Seminar. It forced contemporary biblical scholarship into the public awareness and enabled me to become an effective teacher to those I served.

John Shelby Spong
Episcopal Bishop Emeritus, Newark, New Jersey

Many of us see the value of Westar scholarship, with its collaborative culture, as an on-going post-doctoral seminar. The opportunity to participate in significant research projects in this collegial way has been a very rewarding part of our professional experience.

Roy W. Hoover
Weyerhaeuser Professor of Biblical Literature and Professor of Religion Emeritus, Whitman College, Washington