Comparative Religion and Humanities

Bruce Grelle

PhD Ethics and Society, The University of Chicago Divinity School

My teaching and research are focused on comparative ethics, religion and public education, and religion and politics. I direct the Religion and Public Education Project at Chico State University, and I’m a member of the statewide steering committee for the California 3 Rs Project (Rights, Responsibilities, and Respect): A Program for Finding Common Ground on Issues of Religion and Values in Public Schools. I have co-chaired the “Religion in Public Schools: International Perspectives” group in the American Academy of Religion and served on the AAR Task Force on “Religion in the Schools.” I’m a member of editorial boards or advisory committees for Religion & Education, the British Journal of Religious Education, the Religious Education Journal of Australia, and Religious Studies Review.

Among the courses I teach are RELS 247 “Religion, Ethics, & Ecology”; RELS 358 “Religion in American Public Schools”; and RELS 480 “Theories and Criticisms of Religion.”

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)


Antonio Gramsci Book Cover

Antonio Gramsci and the Question of Religion: Ideology, Ethics, and Hegemony

(Routledge, 2017)

Antonio Gramsci and the Question of Religion provides a new introduction to the thought of Gramsci through the prisms of religious studies and comparative ethics. Bruce Grelle shows that Gramsci’s key ideas – on hegemony, ideology, moral reformation, "traditional" and "organic" intellectuals – were formulated with simultaneous considerations of religion and politics. Identifying Gramsci’s particular brand of Marxism, Grelle offers an overview of Gramsci’s approach to religion and applies it to contemporary debates over the role of religion and morality in social order and social change. This book is ideal for students and scholars interested in Gramsci, religion, and comparative ethics.

Purchase Antonio Gramsci and the Question of Religion(opens in new window)

Practices Global Ethics Book Cover

The Practices of Global Ethics: Historical Developments, Current Issues and Contemporary Prospects

Co-author with Frederick Bird, Sumner B. Twiss, Kusumita P. Pedersen, and Clark A. Miller

(Oxford University Press, 2016)

The Practices of Global Ethics takes a unique look at global ethics: not as mere written statements but as a set of practices undertaken by thousands of organizations and hundreds of thousands of people to shape the normative trajectory of human affairs. It looks at statements of global ethical principles including The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Earth Charter and the Rio Documents and positions them as the outcomes and expression of ongoing practices. Offering innovative and critical analyses of ethical practices since World War II, the book examines efforts to promote human rights; foster ecological responsibility; end genocide; reduce global poverty; encourage responsible and sustainable international business practices; cultivate understanding and collaboration amongst the world's religions among other worldwide endeavors.

Purchase The Practices of Global Ethics(opens in new window)

Explorations in Global Ethics Book Cover

Explorations in Global Ethics: Comparative Religious Ethics and Interreligious Dialogue

Sumner B. Twiss and Bruce Grelle, eds.

(Westview Press, 1998)

In 1993 Sumner Twiss and I attended the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago. There we witnessed more than 6000 representatives of the world's major faiths and many smaller traditions who had gathered to mark the centennial anniversary of the origins of the modern interfaith movement. Attendees at the Parliament acknowledged the role played by religion in many of the world's conflicts, and they challenged the world's religious traditions to find constructive and collaborative ways to address a range of critical moral issues that are facing the global community - issues ranging from intolerance, violence, and the abuse of human rights to poverty and the destruction of the environment. These discussions culminated in the Parliament's approval of a "Declaration Toward a Global Ethic," a statement of minimal moral principles upon which it is hoped that the diverse religious and cultural traditions of the world can agree.

Twiss and I were struck by the gap that existed between the practical and dialogical approach to moral issues that we witnessed at the Parliament, and the more critical and theoretical approach to many of these same issues within our own academic field of comparative religious ethics. This book is an effort to help bridge that gap for the mutual benefit of both the interfaith movement and the field of comparative religious ethics.

Purchase Explorations in Global Ethics(opens in new window)

Christianity and Capitalism Book Cover

Christianity and Capitalism: Perspectives on Religion, Liberalism, and the Economy

Bruce Grelle and David A. Krueger, eds.

(Center for the Scientific Study of Religion, 1986)

This book presents a range of diverse perspectives on the relationship between Christianity and capitalism. Among the contributors are Cornel West and Douglas Sturm, who provide a theological and moral critique of capitalism and the liberal assumptions about human nature and society that underlie this form of economic life. Others, such as Robert Benne and W. Widick Schroeder, argue for the compatibility between Christian moral principles and liberal capitalism. John T. Pawlikowski and David A. Krueger provide overviews of classic Catholic and Protestant approaches to the ethics of economic life. Franklin I. Gamwell and Daniel Rush Finn explore the intersections between ethical theory and economic theory. Kay Warren provides an anthropologist's perspective on capitalist expansion into the Third World, and my own essay assesses the role of Max Weber and other social theorists in shaping contemporary discussions of Christianity and capitalism.

Purchase Christianity and Capitalism(opens in new window)

Other Works

  • "Worldviews, Ethics, and Ecology: 'Sustainability' as a Context for Religious Education," in Values, Human Rights and Religious Education: Contested Grounds (J. Astley, L.J. Francis & D.W. Lankshear, co-editors, Peter Lang, 2018)
  • "The First Amendment and the '3 Rs' of Religious Liberty: A U.S. Approach to Religion and Human Rights," in Human Rights and Religion in Educational Contexts, M.L. Pirner, J. Lähnemann & H. Bielefeldt, co-editors, Springer, 2016)
  • “Neutrality in Public School Religion Education: Theory and Politics,” in Issues in Religion and Education: Whose Religion? (L. Beaman and L. Van Aragon, co-editors, Brill, 2015) 
Portrait of Bruce Grelle