Advancing religious literacy

About Westar Institute


Westar Institute — home of the Jesus Seminar — is dedicated to fostering and communicating the results of cutting-edge scholarship on the history and evolution of the Christian tradition, thereby raising the level of public discourse about questions that matter in society and culture.

Westar is a non-profit, public-benefit research and educational organization that bridges the gap between scholarship about religion and the perception of religion in popular culture. In pursuit of its mission:

  • Westar conducts collaborative, cumulative research in the academic study of religion, addressing issues, questions, and controversies that are important both to the academic community and to the general public.
  • Westar communicates the results of its research in non-technical terms, equipping the general public with tools to critically evaluate competing claims in the public discussion of religion.
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Since its founding in 1986, Westar has conducted a series of innovative seminars on the historical Jesus, the Acts of the Apostles, the apostle Paul, and other topics. Currently, Westar scholars are conducting seminars on the origins of the Christian tradition and God and the human future.

  • Westar is not affiliated with any religious institution or denomination and does not advocate a particular theological point of view.
  • Westar’s headquarters is on the campus of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
  • Westar publishes under the imprint of Polebridge Press.

More about Westar

Westar has developed a new model of scholarly discourse that is open, public, accessible, collegial, and rigorous. Its academic seminars engage leading scholars from accredited institutions worldwide, while also embracing the public and the media as observers and participants. Seminars typically meet twice a year at Westar’s spring and fall meetings.

Westar invites the general public into conversation with scholars of religion at weekend events that take teams of scholars into communities across North America and beyond.

Westar’s activities and research are documented in books, magazines, audio-visual recordings, and social media. All are accessible via Westar’s website, and many of Westar’s resources can be read or downloaded freely.

Read more about our history.