Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2022

Department 1

Religious Studies


What is the relationship between one's own religious beliefs and their everyday colloquial diction choices? Moreover, why is the subfield that encompasses the intersection of sociolinguistics, education, and religious studies one that has gained little scholarly interest in recent years, where one could argue the importance of religious belief, and other socio-political beliefs in education have come center stage in the heart of American political debate? This article will tackle this broad range of topics through a case study focusing on my primary research question: How does a teacher’s own religious identity affect the religious language utilized in their classroom assignments and materials? And moreover, what is the possible impact this has on the religious majority and non-majority identifying students? This study utilizes a primary data-set consisting of three focus groups, each conducted with the partnership of C. Hunter Ritchie (CHR) Elementary School, located in Fauquier County, Virginia. In turn, there is heavy emphasis on sentiment analysis and basic statistical analysis of a collection of both in-class and homework materials provided by each grade level within CHR. This religious studies project is conducted utilizing a strong emphasis on grounded applied linguistic and sociolinguistic methodologies coupled with religious studies theories, discussed throughout the article. With the coupling of statistical and sentiment analysis of focus group transcriptions, along with qualitative primary datasets collected from the focus groups, I analyze and observe how the teachers' general lexicon utilized with their colleagues and within the classroom, is in part, a product of both their own religious background along with the popular religion of the school district itself. I use this in order to herein provide a grounded hypothesis of how this might affect levels of subject-matter retention, focus, and senses of inclusivity and belonging, in Christian and non-Christian students. This project provides further grounding for the continuation of this study, and for the argumentation of effective research methods that can be used to intertwine methodologies of both sociolinguistics and religious studies into the future. In turn, it is my hope that with this grounding, there is now the space for furthering in-depth scholarship focused on the relationship between religious identity, and personal, colloquial, and professional lexicon creations.


Written for REL 400: Capstone Experience in Religious Studies.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.