Santa Clara University

<h3>Valley of the Gods: Religious Encounters in the Bay Area</h3>



On a daily basis we encounter the effects of the globalization that has made Silicon Valley a richly diverse community -- in newspaper headlines, grocery store isles, languages at the mall, exotic food and garb on the street, and in the diversity of religious life. These encounters, especially in religion, are terra incognita for most of us: who—or what—does your neighbor worship? Believe? And you, how do you decide what to believe when so many choices are at hand? How are Silicon Valley inhabitants dealing with this diversity? The isolation and the relations forged-that is the theme of this series. Reflecting the ambitions and work of Santa Clara’s Local Religion Project, this lecture series will explores issues like:

  • Who does your neighbor worship?  What does your neighbor believe?  How do your religious neighbors understand and engage the Valley’s distinctive culture?
  • How do your religious neighbors—and the wider community-- regard the Valley’s diversity—as an asset to be promoted or a threat to be fought?
  • A 2001 Harvard study found Silicon Valley’s social capital—the networks and bonds we form with one another—among the lowest in the nation.  How does this relate to the finding that our faith communities were strong but isolated from one another?  Is our incredibly varied landscape of beliefs a quietly harmonious mosaic or a balkanized collection of fragments rubbing awkwardly against each other?
  • In a recent poll a majority of Americans said  that religions are a source of conflict around the world.  Is that true here?  Do different faith communities tolerate one another?  Ignore one another?  dialogue with one another?  How do religious communities come together in the Valley?
  • Some religions  experience prejudice in the United States, and globally.  Is this happening  locally?   What has been the response?
  • Catherine Bell has written that “…global diversity is the new context for being religious; it is not going to go away; no one religion is going to dominate it; and all will be changed by it, sooner or later. To be, lovingly, our brother and sister's keeper in this world today, we have to learn how, in what way to be a keeper of our brother and sister's religion. (“Who Owns Tradition?” [2001])

In the course of 10 weeks SCU faculty and community leaders will explore these issues in an effort to add to a dialogue on religious and cultural diversity in the life of the Valley.


For each lecture a community leader—from faith communities, organizations, the media—will a perspective on religion in the Valley. Each lecture will be framed and moderated by a faculty member from SCU and will typically include a presentation, interaction with the faculty, and questions from the audience.


SCU students, faculty and staff; higher education institutions in the region; leaders of local faith communities and organizations; and the public at large.


Click to view a PDF schedule of this event.


Philip Boo Riley, Local Religion Project, RS Dept, SCU (; 408-554-2199)