Throughout the first meeting of the Pagan Studies Group at the AAR, presenters mentioned the words "culture" and "cultural" and "religion" and "religious" as though religion were not a cultural construct. I had the temerity to question this. The response was a nonplussed silence.
I realize that in state supported institutions such as Cal State-Long Beach and Colorado State-Pueblo, the line between state and religion is fuzzy. I realize they have to watch their steps carefully in order to avoid jeopardizing their state funding. But, really, religion is a part of culture. I felt that I said, "The emperor has no clothes." I felt really awkward when my comment elicited such a blank response.
Later, some of the presenters told me that the subject was just too complicated and frought with opportunities for misunderstandings that they didn't feel they could take it up in the limited time they had. Some solace, I guess, for my feeling like a boob.