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Naiomi Gonzalez '12
2011 Soar Student

Major: Religious studies

Hometown: Bethlehem, PA

Project:

2010 - U.S. War-culture, Sacrifice and Salvation
2011 - Christology, Soteriology and Violence

Project advisor: Kelly Denton-Borhaug

Project details: My SOAR project for the summer of 2011 built upon my 2010 project in many ways. For 2010, I did a substantial amount of reading and research about war culture to assist Dr. Denton-Borhaug in her research for her book. In addition to this research, I interviewed members of the military about their service, military self-identity, religious understandings and beliefs and sacrifice. In preparation for the interviews, I broadened my background knowledge on qualitative field research, an area I had little exposure to prior to participating in SOAR. By the end of the summer, I wrote a 20-page research paper encompassing what I had learned during the semester, an assignment that was challenging, but allowed me to hone in on my specific strengths and weaknesses as a researcher and writer.

In 2011 I created an annotated bibliography centered around Christology, Soteriology and various theological responses to violence. I also gathered research to aid me in my own personal research on the evangelization of the U.S. military.

Why I wanted to participate in SOAR: I wanted the chance to dedicate myself full-time to investigating an issue I found fascinating, as well as work one-on-one with Dr. Denton-Borhaug.

Results: My project(s) resulted in a wealth of evidence for the effects of Christian theological beliefs and notions of sacrifice rampant in the U.S. military and in justifications for U.S. foreign policy.

Future plans: I have continued to study issues of Christian theology and its influence on the U.S. military after my project ended. After my 2010 SOAR project, I spent a semester at American University as part of the Washington Semester program, part of which required writing a 30-page research project. I studied how the religious beliefs of military chaplains influenced the support or resistance toward the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

All religious studies majors are required to register for Religion 385 and write a 30-page research paper on a subject of interest. I am researching the impracticality of Just War theory and how the intertwining of religious language with state agendas are dangerous to veterans.