Advocate for Public Religious Literacy

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

  • Demonstrates commitment to public religious literacy through outstanding and measurable contributions to his, her, or their 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 issue (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

Westar Institute believes that informed members of the public are a vital part of the innovation and leadership need to promote literacy in religion in partnership with religion scholars. The Westar APRL award exists to celebrate the grassroots efforts of community leaders such as social activists, librarians, school teachers, politicians, and religious leaders who take concrete action to advocate for religious literacy in their communities.

The Advocate for Public Religious Literacy award was established in March 2015 in celebration of Westar Institute’s 30th anniversary. The award seeks to acknowledge individuals whose exemplary action has addressed the gap between scholarship and public discourse about religion. It is hoped that the award will both raise the level of awareness about such efforts and encourage new initiatives.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the APRL award, the following requirements must be met:

  • Nominees must be at least 18 years old.
  • The activities for which a person is nominated need not have taken place during the award year.
  • The nominee does not hold a faculty position at a higher education institution in the fields of religious studies, biblical studies, or similar fields.
  • Authors may be nominated for books that have contributed toward religious literacy.
  • Authors may be nominated only once for a particular book.
  • Books must be intended for the general public.
  • Please provide specific information regarding how the book has contributed toward public religious literacy, with special emphasis on reader response and new initiatives inspired by or related to the book.
  • Current Employees and Board members and their immediate family are not eligible for this award.
  • The awards committee may select up to two (2) winners.
  • Award winner(s) are notified and celebrated at the discretion of the Westar Institute.


Thank you for your interest in submitting a nomination for the Westar Institute Advocate for Public Religious Literacy (APRL) award!

  • Nominations are accepted on a rolling basis. The deadline for consideration in the current year is January 15.
  • Please carefully review the award description and eligibility requirements before applying.
  • Be specific. As relevant, include dates, locations, titles, and names. Describe the impact of the nominee’s efforts. What topics related to religion were covered by the nominee? How did the nominee ensure that activities and materials were non-biased and informative?

Award nominations are received on a rolling basis. Decisions about the award are made annually in January. A modest entry fee ($10) helps to cover costs of administrating the awards. For questions and concerns related to the award, please contact us.

Award applicants grant Westar Institute authorization to use application content, award acceptance speeches, recordings, photos, and all other material arising from the award application and acceptance process.

Awardees for the Advocate for Public Religious Literacy (APRL) award

Richard Carter

Glen Chebon Kernell

Barbara Wendland