The Implicit Religion USA conference is intended to act as a scaffolding to build the capacity of emerging students and scholars as well as an environment in which marginalised scholars can present and develop their work with rigour and purpose. It is a space where people can explore and consider what adding Implicit Religion to their individual ethnographic projects or as a methodological tool could add to the outcome, data, methods, or findings. Delegates attending the USA conference are able to present their work, engage in conversation and then tell us how best they can be supported through further mentoring, resources or opportunities. This is the beginning of a much wider Implicit Religion community, founded on, but expanding the work began by Edward Bailey.
Implicit Religion was intended to create a new approach to the study of religion. It took seriously the behaviours, beliefs, attitudes and actions of the individuals and communities at the place where they are. It did not attempt to assert that something was ‘merely appearing’ to be religious but was really ‘secular’, nor did it insist that something could be termed ‘religious’ by scholars regardless of what the participants thought. The specific nature of implicit religion lies in the attempt to override prejudices and stereotypes with the mechanism of forced repetition, so as to understand life and the world as experienced by people in the process of living. Thus it is necessary to go beyond such common schemes as the identification of the religious with churches, sects, and institutions, or the dichotomy of secular and sacred, as well the antonyms visible and invisible, sacred and profane.
Implicit Religion takes a particular interest in the ways in which people are expressing markers of faith, of belief, of ritual either towards or within parts of their everyday lives. Therefore, it takes seriously, on its own terms, the pilgrimage that people take to Graceland, the rise of the church of Jedi, the meaning and salvation found within punk rock, animal rights activism and the growth of veganism, the statement “football is my religion”, the global occupy protests or the way knitting as a form of self-care and community gives rise to deeper meaning and purpose for the knitters. We are also interested in considering how the analytical tools of Implicit Religion could be helpfully applied to analysis of discourse of power, mutating forms of white supremacy, the means by which the study of religion has become dominated by specific confessional approaches or (unaware) attempts to Christianise studies that focus on alternative ways of being such as resistance to co-option, rejection of capitalism, the MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter and narratives about disability.