HIST 257
Religion and American Politics Fall 2021
Division II
Cross-listed REL 217 / HIST 257

Class Details

In this course, students will explore the history of religion and American politics, from the colonial era to the present. In the process, they will tackle such questions as: Were Anglo-American colonies ‘cities on a hill’ or bastions of intolerance? Was the First Amendment designed to protect the state from religion, or religion from the state? Has American religion primarily served to justify the status quo or inspire revolutionary change? How have religious ethics shaped responses to racial, gender, and class inequality? How has religious conflict impacted civic unity and political polarization? What role should religion play in American political life? The course will cover such topics as: Anglo-colonial treatment of heretics and blasphemers; the meaning of the First Amendment; religious conflict over slavery; state regulation of sexuality and polygamy; state treatment of religious minorities; the Scopes Trial and scientific modernity; Christian responses to industrial capitalism; theologies of civil disobedience and nonviolence; and 20th-century religious battles over school prayer, civil rights, the military draft, abortion, and democracy itself.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 20
Expected: 20
Class#: 1759
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Class participation; five informal response papers (350-450 words); two unit papers (4-6 pages); final paper (8-10 pages).
Prerequisites: None; open to all students.
Enrollment Preferences: Religion and History majors, in order of descending seniority.
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
REL 217 Division II HIST 257 Division II
Attributes: HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada

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