Writing Assignment 2 Parameters and Standards
Summary: Most religions have “rites of passage” or “life-cycle rituals” associated with the various stages in the
human life. These rituals are most commonly associated with birth, adolescence, adulthood, and death (or some
variation of these). For this essay, explore one life-cycle ritual as expressed in two (2) different religions studied
in the second half of this course: Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, or a specific New
Religious Movement discussed in Chapter 13. There is more information about all of this below, so be sure
to pay attention to all the details in this document.
Quick View Checklist (all of this is discussed in greater depth in the Parameters section that follows):
□ Select 1 (and only 1) specific religious life-cycle ritual.
□ Select 2 (and only 2) different religions from the second half of the course for the analysis of your life-cycle
ritual: Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, or a specific New Religious Movement
discussed in Chapter 13.
□ The life-cycle ritual is discussed in terms of activities, events, observances, and beliefs for each religion.
□ MLA formatted bibliography includes at least 3 sources that you consulted.
□ Additional research sources are academic, scholarly, or scriptures and doctrines of the religion.
□ Quotes are limited to religious scriptures or doctrines only, and can be no more than 10% of essay content.
□ Submission is at least 600 words (bibliographies are not a part of the word count).
□ The structure should be that of a standard college essay.
□ Contains appropriate sentence and paragraph formats, proper grammar, and correct spelling and punctuation.
□ Demonstrate original writing skills.
□ Upload completed essay in the Writing Assignment 2 dropbox by the due date posted in the Time Schedule.
Parameters: Here are the complete parameters of this research assignment:
LIFE-CYCLE RITUALS – You will discuss one life-cycle ritual. The most prominent examples to choose
from include birth rituals, coming-of-age rituals, weddings, and funerals. The choice is yours; just make sure
it is a life-cycle ritual and not another type of religious ritual. Remember, life-cycle rituals are associated with
the transitional periods in a person’s life.
RELIGIONS – The life-cycle ritual chosen will be discussed in the context of two (and only two) different
religions studied in the second half of the course: Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism or a
specific New Religious Movement discussed in Chapter 13. For example, you could present the birth rituals
of Islam and Sikhism, or perhaps the coming-of-age rituals of Judaism and Baha’i. The point here is that your
selected life-cycle ritual is discussed in the context of two of the religions from the second half of the course.
The choice of these religions is yours, but make sure the religions you choose actually participate in that lifecycle ritual. Allow your research to guide you to your choice of religions for this analysis.
CONTENT – For this analysis, you should describe the various activities, events, observances, and beliefs
associated with the life-cycle ritual for each of your two chosen religions. For example, are there specific
activities, props, and/or dietary aspects associated with the event? Does the person receive anything as a part
of the ritual? Is there anything done to the physical body as a sign of the ritual? To what extent does the
religious community participate? Have the events become secularized in modern times? Are the celebrations
publicly observed or isolated in the religious communities? Are there variations of activities, events,
observances, and beliefs based on geographical or divisional/denominational differences? You will find in
your research that there are a variety of different practices associated with life-cycle rituals that will be
geographically or divisionally specific. In other words, what Zoroastrians do in India is different from what
they do in Iran; or the practices of Sunni Muslims differ from that of Shi’a Muslims. In these situations, you
should isolate your conversation to one specific group within the religion (identifying in your essay the group
and/or location you are focusing on for each religion). Not everything above applies in all situations; these
are just some ideas of what to consider as you prepare to write this essay. Deductions of up to 30 points will
be made for errors related to the Life-Cycle Rituals, Religions, and Content categories (outlined above).
STRUCTURE – This paper should be done in a traditional essay format: an introductory paragraph discussesing
the religious concept of life-cycle rituals and what you intend to explore (the life-cycle ritual you have chosen
and the religions you intend to explore); two or three paragraphs presenting what is outlined in the “Content”
category above; a conclusion paragraph summarizing the content and/or noting the primary similarities and
differences between the religions explored; followed by a bibliography of sources consulted (see below).
RESEARCH – You are expected to do academic research for this essay. This is a research essay; not an
opinion paper. To that end, consult and cite multiple different sources (at least 3) to illustrate depth of
research. Be aware that different pages, articles, or parts of the same source count as one source. These
resources should be academic or scholarly sources such as peer-reviewed journal articles or books (library
resources), primary sources (sacred literature and official religious documents), official websites of a
religion, authorized publications of recognized religious organizations, or professional pages (government
or educational). See Evaluating Sources for more information. The research sources consulted are to be
provided in the MLA (Modern Language Association) format: How To Do MLA Citations. For useful
research information see How To Do Library Research. See the “Writing Assignments” section of the syllabus
for more library research information. Deductions of up to 10 points for research and citation errors.
QUOTING – Quotes are limited to the sacred literature or official doctrines of a specific religion and should
be no more than 10% of the paper content. In other words, you are not permitted to quote from research
articles. You need to be able express research information in your own words as this is how to demonstrate
understanding (see Paraphrasing and Summarizing). The quoted material from scriptures or religious
documents is only to support your conversation and should be used sparingly. These quotes will need to have
internal documentation done according to Modern Language Association (MLA) standards. Deductions will
be assessed based upon the severity of the errors, with the points coming out of the 30 points assigned to the
Life-Cycle Rituals, Religions, and Content categories sections above.
WORD COUNT – Your essay content is required to be between 600-1200 words (the bibliography information
is not part of the word count). Submissions with fewer than 600 words will receive no points. Such papers
lack the necessary depth. Submissions with more than 1200 words will receive no points. Such papers tend
to lack focus and conciseness.
ACADEMIC WRITING – The essay is expected to conform to academic writing standards (i.e., demonstrate
the use of proper sentence and paragraph formats, proper grammar, and correct spelling and punctuation).
You are encouraged to have your paper reviewed by an SPC tutor before submission (tutor information: SPC
Tutor Information). Up to 20 points will be deducted for writing errors based upon frequency and severity.
ORIGINAL WRITING – Your paper is to demonstrate original writing (see this conversation in the Syllabus).
In short, do not use the words of another as this can be considered plagiarism and may result in a failing
grade and possible honor code disciplinary action. Additionally, it is unacceptable to submit your own work
(in whole or in part) from another assignment, class, or a previous attempt of REL 2300 (Student Academic
Policies). For original writing assistance, see Plagiarism & Academic Integrity.
DUE – The essay is due by the date posted in the calendar. Any assignment submitted late for any reason is
subject to a 5 point per business day late deduction, up to an assignment maximum of 30 points deducted.
After the paper has been graded based on the categories above, the late points will be deducted.
SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS – Students are required to submit the paper electronically to the “Writing
Assignment 2” dropbox in MyCourses. Submissions to this dropbox are subject to an originality check
through TurnItIn, a website that scans papers for signs of plagiarism and issues a report to the student and
instructor. Please note that the allowed file types are MS Word, WordPerfect, Postscript, Acrobat PDF,
HTML, RTF, and plain text. No other file types are accepted. DO NOT paste your paper into the “Comments”
section of the dropbox. Feedback will be provided within seven to ten days of the due date.