Advocate for Public Religious Literacy (APRL) Award

The Westar Institute Advocate for Public Religious Literacy (APRL) award confers recognition upon an individual who:

  • Demonstrates a commitment to public religious literacy through outstanding and measurable contributions to his or her community
  • Translates religion scholarship into forms that are accessible and engaging for public audiences such as schools, churches, libraries, and community groups
  • May concentrate on one particular religion (e.g. Christianity, Islam) or religion-related social issues (e.g. abortion, marriage rights), or on religious literacy broadly speaking
  • May belong to a particular faith tradition, or none, but whose contributions reflect a spirit of openness and dialogue with those who hold different views
  • Is a member of the public who does not currently hold an academic appointment at an institution of higher learning in religious studies, biblical studies, or related fields

The Order of David Friedrich Strauss

Westar scholars inducted into the Order of David Friedrich Strauss have rigorously applied the historical critical method to the study of the Gospels and creeds that Strauss pioneered.

D. F. Strauss recognized that the basic problem facing Christianity is the relationship of the historical Jesus to the belief in a supernatural Christ. He was convinced that these two Jesuses had become mixed as a result of his study of doctrine. As a consequence, he laid out a two-stage project for his own scholarly work: first, he wrote his Life of Jesus (1835) in order to separate what can known historically about Jesus from the beliefs about him that were generated in the early Christian community.

The Order of Baruch Spinoza

Westar scholars are eligible for induction into the Order of Baruch Spinoza. Nominated scholars hold a history of commitment to Westar, a consistent track record of seminar involvement, or a publication background exhibiting daring, imaginative, and cutting-edge scholarship in the spirit of Spinoza.

Baruch Spinoza was a pioneer in the critical engagement of theology and philosophy. He was among the first to affirm the significance of science for thinking in religion. His imaginative and daring creativity recast the understanding of God from a supernatural object of pious regard to the cosmic fabric of life. His willingness to reimagine the humanistic values of religion resulted in excommunication from his community and condemnation as a heretic.