RDA and religion

I’ve been feeling curious about the number of rules in RDA that deal specifically and explicitly with religion.  Because I’m generally interested in the development and history of cataloging standards, the number of religion-specific rules seems notable.  Why is religion given so much attention, and are there historical reasons for that? I’m not trying to be critical of the frequency with which religion appears in RDA – in some ways, I think it makes perfect sense – but I do find it kind of intriguing.

As a way to start thinking more about that and starting to wrap my head around it, I spent some time pulling together a list of all of the RDA rules that deal with religious works or religious bodies.  I used the current version of the RDA Toolkit (not the Beta Toolkit) and did searches for “religion”, “religious”, and “church.” I decided to only include rules if the instructions are specific to a religious body or text.  I didn’t include if a religious body or text was used as an example, but the rule does not specify to treat it differently (although that would be an interesting addendum). I also didn’t include rules that only include a reference to another rule that is specific to religious bodies or texts.

The list is currently stored in a Google Doc. I won’t guarantee that this list is comprehensive.  I may have missed some rules! Please let me know if you can think of any that should be included, or any other search terms that might be interesting.  

I have a few ideas of what to do with this next, but even just this list of rules is interesting in and of itself.  It helps me get a sense of when and why religion appears in RDA, as well as what religions and faith traditions are most explicitly discussed.  

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