HIST 153
Establishment & Exercise: Religion and the Constitution in the United States Spring 2017
Division II Writing Skills
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“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This 100-level tutorial examines the constitutional history of conflicts over religion in the United States, and asks how the law has weighed religious freedom against other cultural values, legal rights, and social needs. This course will consider the following questions: How has the interpretation of the First Amendment’s religious clauses changed over time? What happens when the establishment clause and free exercise clause come into conflict with each other? Is the American state secular? What is the difference between religious beliefs and moral beliefs? How have constitutional arguments about religion intersected with social movements and political culture? Topics will include: the origins and early interpretations of the religion clauses; the changing scope of constitutional protections for the beliefs and practices of religious minorities; controversies over religion in schools, workplaces, and public spaces; debates about tax exemptions for religious organizations; the rights of conscientious objectors; and the emerging conflicts between claims for religious liberty and anti-discrimination laws. This course examines the ways these conflicts illuminate tensions between the competing values of equality and liberty, and interrogates the ways that the very act of legal decision-making defines the boundaries of what counts as religion.
The Class: Type: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3496
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly essays
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first-year students
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Attributes: HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada
JLST Interdepartmental Electives

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