Philosophy & Religious Studies

Dr. PeraboDr. Betsy Perabo

Professor of Religious Studies

Phone: (309) 298-1309
Office: Morgan 203F

Education: B.A., Northwestern University; M.Div., Harvard Divinity School; Ph.D., Yale University

Office Hours: Monday--Noon-2pm; Tuesday--2:30-3:30pm; Wednesday-- Noon -1pm and by appointment

Fall 2017 Classes:

  • Religion 101: Religion and Popular Culture
  • Religion 301: Religion in America (Online)

Other classes (taught on a rotating basis):

  • Religion, Ethics, and Law
  • Religion and War (currently scheduled for Spring 2017)
  • Women and Religion
  • The Christians
  • Introduction to Western Religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam)

Research and writing

My research focuses on Christian perspectives on war, and I am interested in a broad spectrum of questions related to the ways Christianity and other religious traditions help people live through and interpret the experiences they and others have during wartime.  Some questions I consider include:

  • How do religious believers make decisions about whether to join the military, or to support military action?  What religious principles, practices, and institutions influence these decisions?
  • In what ways do religious beliefs and practices affect the behavior and the experiences of individuals during wartime, and after war?
  • Why do adherents of the same faith reach such radically different conclusions about war?  For example, why do some Christians believe they have the right or responsibility to fight wars in the service of a just cause, while others believe war is always wrong?

Recently I published a book Russian Orthodoxy and the Russo-Japanese War (Bloomsbury, 2017). At the time of the war, in 1904-05, Russia was by most definitions a "Christian nation" and Japan was in some ways a "Buddhist nation," so this conflict raises interesting questions about the relationship between religion and war. 

The Russian Christians I study include an ordinary soldier who is taken prisoner by the Japanese; a field chaplain who spends the war ministering to Russian soldiers on the front lines; a military psychologist and officer who commands Russian troops; church leaders in Russia who are strong supporters of the war; the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, who is a pacifist and opponent of the war; and Nikolai of Japan, a 67-year-old priest who founded the Russian Orthodox Mission in Japan in the 1860s, spent most of his life in that country, and stays there during the war at his congregation's request.  Each of these people brings a distinctive Christian perspective to the analysis of how religion and war are (or should be) related.