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Religion and American Politics
/ REL 217
This course examines the intersection of religion and American politics, from the colonial era to the present. It focuses especially on electoral politics and social movements, exploring the role of religion in conflicts over racial equality, capitalism, gender and sexuality, and church-state relations. Students will tackle questions with both historical and present-day relevance, such as: Was America founded as a Christian nation? Has religion been a source of revolutionary change, or a mere ‘opiate of the masses?’ How have religious ethics shaped the politics of race, gender, and class? How has growing religious diversity affected civic unity? What role should religion play in American political life? The course will cover such topics as the religious views of the ‘Founders;’ debates over slavery; spiritualism & women’s rights; state treatment of religious minorities; the Scopes Trial and scientific modernity; the Social Gospel and modern capitalism; the New Left and the Moral Majority; and late 20th-century religious battles over war, civil rights, feminism, and democracy itself.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
class participation; six informal response papers (300-400 words); two unit papers (4-6 pages); final paper (8-10 pages)
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada