The John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics serves as an ideologically neutral venue for fostering rigorous scholarship and informing broad academic and public communities about the intersections of religion and U.S. politics.

The Center's programs include:

  • Public lectures, conferences and symposia relating to issues at the intersection of religion and U.S. politics;

  • Research colloquia on American religion, politics and culture, in which scholars and students discuss cutting-edge research;

  • Religion & Politics, an online journal engaging a diverse array of scholars, journalists and public leaders;

  • New courses on American religion and politics for Washington University students. The courses contribute to an interdisciplinary undergraduate minor in religion and politics.

The Center offers a religion and politics minor, an interdisciplinary program that combines resources from the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics with relevant offerings from other academic programs, including Religious Studies, Political Science, History, American Culture Studies, African-American Studies, English, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Designed to complement and contribute to students' major fields of study, the minor also aims to augment the undergraduate education of those considering postgraduate professional programs in public policy, education, law, medicine or social work. The religion and politics minor provides an opportunity for exploring in sustained ways how religion and politics have intersected American culture, both in historical and contemporary terms.

As part of the program, students may examine any number of issues such as church-state relations, religion's role in shaping gender and sexuality debates, religion and electoral politics, public conflicts over the nexus of religion and science, religion's entwining with reform movements (from abolition to environmentalism), or confluences of religion and politics in national vocabularies, media and imagination.

Contact:Mark Valeri
Phone:314-935-9367
Email:rap@wustl.edu
Website:http://rap.wustl.edu

The Center does not offer a major. Interested students are encouraged to explore the minor in religion and politics. Please refer to the Minors section for more information.

The Minor in Religion and Politics

Required units: 15

15 units of course work, including:

  • One required course: This should be completed prior to the second semester of the junior year.
    RelPol 201 Religion and American Society (3 units)
    or RelPol 225 Religion and Politics in American History (3 units)
  • 12 additional units, 9 of which must be 300 or 400 level, and 9 of which, at any level, must be taught by Center faculty.

Required activities:

Attendance at five events sponsored by the Center on Religion and Politics (lectures, colloquia, lunch discussions, film screenings). Students must inform the director of undergraduate studies of the events they attend so this can be recorded for their record.

Visit online course listings to view semester offerings for L57 RelPol.


L57 RelPol 102 Thinking About Religion

Nearly everyone has had some experience with something they would call "religion," from at least a passing familiarity through the media to a lifetime of active participation in religious communities. But what do we actually mean when we use the word? What is a religion? What does it mean to call something a religion, or "religious"? And what does it mean to study religion, given the slipperiness of the concept itself? This course offers an introduction to the academic study of religion through a consideration of these questions: What is religion, and how can we study it? Do we need an answer to the first question to pursue the second? Why, and toward what ends, might we undertake such study? We will also consider what is at stake in our investigation and inquiry into religion — for the inquirers, for the subjects of inquiry, and for society more broadly — and what kind of lens the study of religion offers us on ourselves, our neighbors, and society, in turn. To these ends, we will discuss major theoretical approaches to the study of religion and significant work on religions and religious phenomena, toward a better understanding of what "religion" might be and how it might be studied today. No prior knowledge or experience of religion, religions, or anything religious is expected or required. This course is required for religious studies majors and minors.
Same as L23 Re St 102

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM Arch: HUM Art: HUM BU: ETH EN: H


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L57 RelPol 130 Fresh Sem: The Ritual Landscape of Cahokia: Perspectives on the Politics of Religion & Chiefly Power

The purpose of this class is to engage and challenge freshman students in an open discussion about the prehistoric Mississippian community of Cahokia. The focus of this course is two-fold. The first is to study the way in which the archaeological evidence has been interpreted. The second is to examine other perspectives on Cahokia, especially from the Native American descendants who consecrated this landscape nearly a millennium ago. An underlying tenet of this seminar in understanding Cahokia can also be achieved through the traditions and literature of Native Americans. In the end we want to understand the basis for Cahokia's organization as a prehistoric Native American community, and the role that ritual and religion played in the rather dramatic and dynamic history of this community and the surrounding region.
Same as L48 Anthro 130

Credit 3 units. A&S: SS A&S IQ: LCD, SSC Arch: SSC Art: SSC BU: HUM


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L57 RelPol 1711 Literature Seminar for Freshmen: Literature, Spirituality, and Religion

Reading courses, each limited to 15 students. Topics: selected writers, varieties of approaches to literature, e.g., Southern fiction, the modern American short story, the mystery; consult Course Listings. Prerequisite: first-year standing.
Same as L14 E Lit 171

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM BU: HUM EN: H


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L57 RelPol 201 Religion and American Society

This course explores religious life in the United States. We focus our study on groups and movements that highlight distinctive ways of being both "religious" and "American," including the Americanization of global religions in the U.S. context. Major themes include religious encounter and conflict; secularization, resurgent traditionalism and new religious establishments; experimentalism, eclecticism and so-called "spiritual" countercultures; the relationship between religious change and broader social and political currents (including clashes over race, class, gender and sexuality); and the challenges of religious multiplicity in the United States. Students: (1) acquire knowledge of the disparate religions practiced in North America during the 20th century and beyond; (2) examine some of the chief conflicts as well as alliances between religion and the American social order in a global context; and (3) develop interpretive tools for understanding religion’s present and enduring role in the U.S. and the world.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM BU: ETH EN: H


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L57 RelPol 209 Scriptures and Cultural Traditions: America's Bible

When we think of the word "scripture" in antiquity, we might think of the texts that have been compiled in the different holy books that we currently have today. Yet the function of "scriptures" within a community, and the status given to different texts treated as "scriptural," has changed in different times and places. In this course, we will consider texts that would eventually come to be part of the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and the Qu'ran as well as several of the exegetes and reading communities that shaped their various interpretations. We will explore how non-canonical sources played a role in the formation of the various canons we have today, comparing the authoritative status given to these texts to that given to other works from antiquity, such as the epics of Homer. Special attention will be played to the role of the receiving community in the development of "scripture," and the variety of the contexts in which scripture can function in the construction of and opposition to religious authority.
Same as L93 IPH 209

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH, CD A&S IQ: HUM, LCD Art: HUM BU: ETH EN: H


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L57 RelPol 215 Perfoming Religion, Ritualizing Gender

What's the difference between a wink and a blink? What the difference between graduation, a sacrament, and the electric slide? We make fine-grained distinctions every day in our own enactment and interpretation of these different kinds of practices. This class will introduce students to key academic approaches to "ritual," "practice" and "performance," and will ask whether these distinctions are important or arbitrary. Ritual studies (based in religious studies) also happens to center around the very same questions that gave birth to gender and queer studies (is gender a performance?), thus a parallel examination of ritual and performance studies necessarily brings religious identity into conversation with broader questions of identity (gender, race, class).

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: HUM, SD Arch: HUM Art: HUM BU: BA EN: H


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L57 RelPol 220 Whose St. Louis? Religion, Race, and Power in the Gateway City

Through the city's history, St. Louis residents and their leaders have established laws, policies and practices that have privileged certain groups at the expense of others. Race has often been part of that equation. This course examines moments of social crisis in St. Louis history — up to the present day — when residents have mobilized, resisted or ignored efforts to address race-based inequalities. We consider how St. Louis' religious communities in particular have understood the city's racial codes and how they have positioned themselves in relation to movements for social change. Along the way we explore slavery, property and housing restrictions, interstate construction, hiring practices, and gun violence. In addition to course reading assignments and film screenings, students will visit three religious sites to encounter and analyze the intersections of race, religion and power in present-day St. Louis.

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: HUM BU: BA EN: H


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L57 RelPol 225 Religion and Politics in American History

The United States has often been imagined as both a deeply Christian nation and a thoroughly secular republic. These competing visions of the nation have created conflict throughout American history and have made the relationship between religion and politics quite contentious. This course surveys the complex entanglements of religion and public life from the colonial era through the contemporary landscape. Topics covered include: religious liberty and toleration, secularization, the rise of African-American churches, the Civil War, national identity and the Protestant establishment, the religious politics of women's rights, religion and the presidency, the Cold War, the religious left and right, and debates over church-state separation.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM Arch: HUM Art: HUM BU: BA EN: H


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L57 RelPol 230 Black-Jewish Relations in the United States

The relationship of blacks and Jews in the United States is at once intimate and strained, mutually beneficial and antagonistic. This course examines this uneasy alliance from a number of perspectives including anthropology, politics and identity politics, history, religion and class. Beginning with American anthropology's Jewish founding father, Franz Boas, challenging the concept of race, the course traces the relations of blacks and Jews throughout the 20th century and in our contemporary moment. We will pay particular attention to the civil rights era, which is commonly upheld as the golden age of black-Jewish relations, as well as to this alliance's unraveling in the post-civil rights era. The course then moves to a unit focused on more recent ruptures and collaborations including the 1991 Crown Heights race riots, during which Orthodox Jews clashed with their black neighbors, and Jewish involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement. The course concludes with a unit on identity and identity politics focused on the complexity and fluidity of the categories "white," "black" and "Jewish."

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: HUM, SD BU: BA EN: H


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L57 RelPol 240 Jewish Political Thought

This course uses the concepts of political theory to explore the diverse Jewish political tradition. While this tradition includes writing from and about the three historical periods of Jewish self-rule (including the modern state of Israel), most of the Jewish political tradition comes from the understanding of politics as viewed from outsiders to mainstream communities. Additionally, Jewish political thought can be found through a Jewish community's self-understanding based on its interpretation of Jewish text and law by which it bound itself. Because we span over 2,000 years of recorded history, we will not attempt to discern a single "Jewish political thought" but rather look at JPT through the lens of familiar concepts of political theory. The fundamental questions we will explore are the relationship of the Jewish tradition to concepts such as authority, law, consent, sovereignty and justice. We will ask how the Jewish tradition views government and the relationship between the authority of God and the authority of temporal powers. We will explore these questions through a range of materials that include both primary and secondary literature.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM BU: BA EN: H


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L57 RelPol 250 Zionism

Zionism is often thought of as a commitment to the principle that the Jewish People, as a distinct "people," has a right to self-determination in its own historical land of the biblical Palestine. Yet the history of the term and the set of ideologies show a much more complex understanding. In this course we trace the emergence of a number of different "Zionisms" that would lead to the creation of the modern state of Israel. And we explore how the political principles at the core of these ideologies have fared in the 65 years since the founding of the modern Jewish state. The course is at its heart applied political theory: a case study of the way that ideas emerge from historical events, take on a life of their own, and then shape real outcomes in the world. The readings will weave together history, philosophy, literature and government.

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: LCD, SSC Arch: SSC Art: SSC BU: BA EN: S


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L57 RelPol 260 Religion in the African-American Experience: A Historical Survey

This course introduces students to important themes in the history of African-American, and thus in American, religious history, among them slavery, emancipation, urbanization, migration, consumer culture, sexuality, politics and media technologies. Primary attention is given to Afro-Protestantism in North America and the cultural, social and religious practices and traditions of these black communities. However, students will also be introduced to specific expressions of religious diversity and varying religious traditions and practices in African-American communities.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM BU: ETH EN: H


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L57 RelPol 305 Between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Freedom

This course focuses on the political and spiritual lives of Martin and Malcolm. We will examine their personal biographies, speeches, writings, representations, FBI Files, and legacies as a way to better understand how the intersections of religion, race and politics came to bare upon the freedom struggles of people of color in the U.S. and abroad. The course also takes seriously the evolutions in both Martin and Malcolm's political approaches and intellectual development, focusing especially on the last years of their respective lives. We will also examine the critical literature that takes on the leadership styles and political philosophies of these communal leaders, as well as the very real opposition and surveillance they faced from state forces like the police and FBI. Students will gain an understanding of what social conditions, religious structures and institutions, and personal experiences led to first the emergence and then the assassinations of these two figures. We will discuss the subtleties of their political analyses, pinpointing the key differences and similarities of their philosophies, approaches and legacies, and we will apply these debates of the mid-20th century to contemporary events and social movements in terms of how their legacies are articulated and what we can learn from them in struggles for justice and recognition in 21st-century America and beyond.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH, SD A&S IQ: HUM, SD BU: BA EN: H


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L57 RelPol 3081 City on a Hill: The Concept and Culture of American Exceptionalism

This course examines the concept, history and culture of American exceptionalism: the idea that America has been specially chosen or has a special mission to the world. First, we examine the Puritan sermon that politicians quote when they describe America as a "city on a hill." This sermon has been called the "ur-text" of American literature, the foundational document of American culture; learning and drawing from multiple literary methodologies, we re-investigate what that sermon means and how it came to tell a story about the Puritan origins of American culture — a thesis our class reassesses with the help of modern critics. In the second part of this class, we broaden our discussion to consider the wider (and newer) meanings of American exceptionalism, theorizing the concept while looking at the way it has been revitalized, redefined and redeployed in recent years. Finally, the course ends with a careful study of American exceptionalism in modern political rhetoric, starting with JFK and proceeding through Reagan to the current day. In the end, students gain a firm grasp of the long history and continuing significance — the pervasive impact — of this concept in American culture.
Same as L98 AMCS 3081

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM BU: BA EN: H


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L57 RelPol 315 Virtues, Vices, Values: Regulating Morality in Modern America

This course takes morality and the question of "what's right" seriously as a lens through which to understand and assess modern American history. "Morality" is, of course, a devilishly flexible rhetoric, a language invoked to tell people how to act and how to be good, or, conversely, to criticize and to shame. When the state or a community wants its citizens or members to be "good," it crafts laws and creates customs to encourage or inhibit behaviors. This class examines how state and non-state actors have attempted to regulate the lived experiences of Americans and the conflicts that emerge over what, exactly, is correct, or right, or good for individuals, society and the state. It interrogates what values the state impresses upon its citizens and what values citizens want the state to uphold.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH, SD A&S IQ: HUM, SD BU: ETH EN: H


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L57 RelPol 320 Religious Freedom in America

This interdisciplinary course, co-taught by a law school professor and an American historian, concerns the intersection of religion, liberty and law in American culture. It introduces students to the major texts and historical issues concerning religious liberty, using legal history and case law, intellectual and social history, and political philosophy. It will address issues of significant contemporary debate — from the role of religious groups on college campuses to bakers and gay weddings — along with the deep historical background, from English settlement of North America and the making of the Constitution, through the Civil War, to the Cold War and the recent political developments.
Same as I50 InterD 320

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: HUM, SD EN: H


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L57 RelPol 321 American Religion, Gender, and Sexuality

Religious beliefs about gender and sexuality have long played a vital role in American politics, vividly evident in debates over such issues as birth control, censorship, pornography, funding for AIDS research, abortion, contraceptive access, abstinence-only sex education, sexual harassment, same-sex marriage, and more. Educated citizens need to understand the impact of these religiously inflected debates on our political culture. This course explores the centrality of sex to religion and politics in the U.S., emphasizing Christianity (both Protestant and Catholic forms) and its weighty social and political role regulating the behavior of women and men, children and teens, as well as its uses in legal and judicial decisions. Alongside scholarly readings in gender and sexuality, we will discuss popular devotional texts — on chastity, marriage, and homosexuality — with a political bent. Students will leave the course able to analyze how religious beliefs about sex shape specific gender norms central to U.S. politics.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM Arch: HUM Art: HUM BU: ETH EN: H


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L57 RelPol 330 Native American/Euro-American Encounters: Confrontations of Bodies and Beliefs

This course surveys the history and historiography of how Native Americans, Europeans and Euro-Americans reacted and adapted to one another's presence in North America from the 1600s to the mid-1800s, focusing on themes of religion and gender. We will examine the cultural and social implications of encounters between Native peoples, missionaries and other European and Euro-American Protestants and Catholics. We will pay particular attention to how bodies were a venue for encounter — through sexual contact, through the policing of gendered social and economic behaviors, and through religiously-based understandings of women's and men's duties and functions. We will also study how historians know what they know about these encounters, and what materials enable them to answer their historical questions.

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: HUM, LCD, SD Arch: HUM Art: HUM


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L57 RelPol 3504 The Making of American Conservatism Since 1932, from Herbert Hoover to Donald Trump

Beginning with Hayek's The Road to Serfdom and Buckley's God and Man at Yale, this course examines some of the major conservative writers and thinkers in the United States since World War II. The course includes readings by Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, Barry Goldwater, Phyllis Schlafly, Irving Kristol, Newt Gingrich, and Pat Buchanan as well younger conservatives like Mark Steyn, Jonah Goldberg, Ramesh Ponnuru, S.E. Cupp, and Kevin Williamson. Several classes are devoted to black conservatives including Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, and Walter Williams. We will try to answer the questions: What is conservatism and who are its adherents? Can we speak of conservatism in the singular or are there several types of conservatism? Are the various forms of conservatism politically and intellectually compatible? How has conservatism changed since Reagan and the 1980s? What inroads has conservatism made in the cultural and political life of the United States? Is the United States essentially a conservative nation? Time permitting; we may also watch a few Hollywood movies by conservative filmmakers.
Same as L98 AMCS 3504

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM BU: HUM EN: H


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L57 RelPol 360 Religion and the Modern Civil Rights Movement,1954-1968

The modern Civil Rights Movement is a landmark event in the nation's political, civic, cultural and social history. In many contexts, this movement for and against civil and legal equality took on a religious ethos, with activists, opponents and observers believing that the net result of the marches, demonstrations and legislative rulings would redeem and/or destroy "The Soul of the Nation." This seminar examines the modern Civil Rights Movement and its strategies and goals, with an emphasis on the prominent religious ideologies and activities that were visible and utilized in the modern movement. The course pays particular attention to the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Islamic traditions, figures and communities that were indifferent, combative, instrumental and/or supportive of Civil Rights legislation throughout the mid-20th century.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM BU: BA EN: H


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L57 RelPol 368 Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion

What is religion? In this course, we explore how religious ritual may help to clarify the nature and function of religion. We first consider "classic" theories of religion and ritual, such as those of James Frazer, Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, Mircea Eliade, Max Weber, E.E. Evans-Pritchard, and Clifford Geertz. We then consider more recent theories of ritual and its relationship to religion (such as those of Victor Turner and Maurice Bloch). Alongside, and in light of, these theoretical writings, we look at specific instances of ritual practice from various cultures and periods. Note: This course is required for religious studies majors and minors. It is recommended that this course be taken after completion of L23 Re St 102 Thinking About Religion.
Same as L23 Re St 368

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM Arch: HUM Art: HUM BU: ETH EN: H


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L57 RelPol 370 Religion and the Origins of Capitalism

This course explores the economic, cultural and social history of the origins of Anglo-American capitalism from 1500 to 1800. Throughout we will discuss the worldviews and day-to-day business decisions of the merchants who created England's transatlantic market order and empire. Rather than treat early capitalism only in terms of material or purely economic dynamics, it probes the intellectual constructs that combined with commercial innovations to form capitalism into a social system.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM BU: ETH EN: H


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L57 RelPol 3743 History of U.S. Foreign Relations since 1920

This course explores the major diplomatic, political, legal, and economic issues shaping U.S. relations with the wider world from the 1920s through the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Same as L22 History 3743

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: HUM BU: IS EN: H


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L57 RelPol 385 Religion and Politics in the Long 1920s

This course is a historical survey of the dynamic relationship between religion and politics during the 1920s. The 1920s were a tipping point for a great deal of the fundamental issues that shaped the 20th century in the U.S. This course seeks to investigate how religious activism, evangelism, discourse, practice and reinvention contributed to and was shaped by such change.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH, SD A&S IQ: HUM, SD Arch: HUM Art: HUM BU: BA EN: H


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L57 RelPol 390 Mormonism and the American Experience

The focus of this seminar is Mormonism, meaning, primarily, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or LDS Church), which is the largest Mormon body. Mormons in the United States have gone from being one of the most intensely persecuted religious groups in the country's history to the fourth largest religious body in the U.S. (by one count), with a reputation for patriotism and conservative family values. In addition to introducing who the Mormons are, their beliefs and religious practices, this seminar will explore issues raised by Mormonism's move toward the religious mainstream alongside its continuing distinctiveness. These issues include: What is the religious "mainstream" in the U.S.? How did conflicts over Mormonism during the 19th century, especially the conflict over polygamy, help define the limits of religious tolerance in this country? How have LDS teachings about gender and race, or controversies about whether or not Mormons are Christian, positioned and repositioned Mormons within U.S. society?

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM Arch: HUM Art: HUM BU: ETH EN: H


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L57 RelPol 395 Topics in Religion and Politics: Religious Celebrity

This course investigates the intersection of religion and celebrity in American culture through figures such as Oprah and Billy Graham. Beyond looking at particular religious celebrities, the course looks at the history of fame, theories of "charisma," and secular celebrities as gods of the modern age. The course also traces the rise of theatrical stardom and religious charisma in the United States, and the ways in which political celebrity draws on these traditions.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM Arch: HUM Art: HUM EN: H


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L57 RelPol 407 Solidarity and Silence: Religious Strategies in the Political Sphere

Although political action is often considered a problem of making oneself heard, religious practices of silence, self-effacement and withdrawal from certain worldly struggles have guided many significant political and social movements, particularly forms of nonviolent resistance. This course considers the role of religious thought and practice in such movements in the 20th century. The history of these movements presents an apparent paradox: How can political action emerge from the supposedly "private" realm of religion in the modern era, particularly its most individualistic formations in contemplative and mystical practices? Does the historical role of these practices in the political sphere complicate their portrayal in some scholarship as private, individual and depoliticizing? With these questions animating our investigations, we will consider the work of authors and activists including Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr., Simone Weil, and William Barber, as well as the history of movements associated with their work. Toward the end of the semester, we will turn to contemporary movements against economic inequality, intimate violence, racially motivated violence, and discrimination toward transgender persons to discuss the use of religious strategies or religiously-derived strategies in current political and social activism.
Same as L23 Re St 407

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: HUM Arch: HUM Art: HUM EN: H


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L57 RelPol 410 The FBI and Religion

This seminar examines the relationship between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and religion (i.e., faith communities, clerics and religious professionals) as a way to study and understand 20th-century religion and politics. The course investigates the history of the FBI as well as the various ways in which the FBI and religious groups have interacted. The course pays particular attention to what the professor calls the four interrelated "modes" of FBI-religious engagement: counter-intelligence and surveillance, coordination and cooperation, censorship and publicity, and consultation.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM BU: HUM EN: H


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L57 RelPol 4121 American Religion, Politics, and Culture: Historical Foundations

This seminar offers a wide-ranging overview of the leading historical scholarship concerning the busy intersections of American religion and politics. Topics include: church-state relations, religion and foreign policy, religion and social justice, religion and the science wars, the rise of the Religious Right, and the role of religion in public life. Prerequisites: advanced undergraduate or graduate standing in a related field or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM EN: H


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L57 RelPol 4122 American Religion, Politics & Culture: Commentary from Alexis de Tocqueville to Contemporary Pundits

This research-oriented seminar involves in-depth historiographical investigation of leading scholarship at the busy intersections of American religion, politics and culture. The second semester focuses on classic and contemporary commentaries on the American religious and political scene from Alexis de Tocqueville through today's leading pundits. Some sessions will include a visiting scholar engaged in cutting-edge research — a feature that will allow seminar members to work with important scholars from beyond the university. Possible topics include: church-state relations, religion and foreign policy, religion and civil rights, religion and the science wars, the rise of the Religious Right, and the role of religion in national elections. The seminar is taught under the auspices of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics and is offered in two complementary parts (though enrollment in either one of the two is certainly possible). Its ambition is to build up a community of inquirers engaged in the core questions that animate the Danforth Center. Prerequisites: Advanced undergraduate or graduate standing in AMCS, History, or Religious Studies or permission of instructor.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM


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L57 RelPol 425 Law, Religion, and Politics

What is the role of religious argument in politics and law? What kinds of arguments are advanced, and how do they differ from one another? Are some of these arguments more acceptable than others in a liberal democracy? This course will explore these questions through the work of legal scholars, theologians and political theorists. Our topics include the nature of violence and coercion in the law, constraints on public reason, the relationship between religion and government, and the nature of religious practice and tradition.

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: HUM EN: H


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L57 RelPol 430 Pilgrims and Seekers: American Spirituality from Transcendentalism to the New Age

The seminar focuses on the formation of "spirituality" in American culture from the Transcendentalist world of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman on through more recent expressions of the "spiritual-but-not-religious" sensibility. For the purposes of this course, "spirituality" is usefully placed in quotation marks in order to emphasize its peculiar construction as something positively distinct from "religion" — a reordering of American religious thought and experience that we explore in historical and contemporaneous terms. The social and political consequences of this turn to the spiritual over the religious also is explored: for example, the consecration of liberal individualism, the environmental vision of nature mysticism, the blessing of a "bourgeois-bohemian" consumerism, and the negotiation of cultural pluralism.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM EN: H


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L57 RelPol 4491 American Unbelief from the Enlightenment to the New Atheism

This seminar examines American secularism, humanism and atheism from the Enlightenment forward to the present. Topics emphasized include: the relationship between believers and nonbelievers, the civil liberties of atheists, religion in the public schools, social radicalism and women's rights, and the more recent growth of religious disaffiliation and public atheism. The course considers not only the intellectual dimensions of freethinking unbelief but also the broader politics of secularism in a nation routinely imagined as "under God."

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM Arch: SSP Art: SSP EN: H


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L57 RelPol 4564 American Pragmatism

This course examines the history of American pragmatism through three of its primary founders, the philosophers Charles Peirce, William James and John Dewey. It considers pragmatism as a response to the experience of uncertainty brought on my modernity and contextualizes it amid late 19th- and early 20th-century thought and politics, namely, scientific methodology, evolutionary theory, the probabilistic revolution, Transcendentalism, the rise of secularism, slavery, Abolitionism and the Civil War. Major essays by each thinker are read as well as three intellectual biographies and one critical survey.
Same as L22 History 4564

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM Arch: HUM Art: HUM EN: H


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L57 RelPol 480 Readings in African-American Religious History

This course is an introduction to the history and variety of African-American religions in the New World diaspora. The approach will be chronological, from the earliest years to the New World to contemporary expressions. We will also explore some of the major historiographical themes that have catalyzed current scholarship, the purpose and effectiveness of black nationalist movements, issues of class and gender, the persistence of African elements of New World religious practice, performance and popular culture.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM EN: H


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L57 RelPol 485 Christian Nation, Secular Republic

The United States has often been imagined as both a deeply Christian nation and a thoroughly secular republic, and those conjoined framings have created recurrent conflict throughout American history. This seminar is designed to introduce advanced undergraduates and graduate students to current discussions of religion, secularism, and unbelief in American religious and political history. The course also places a complementary emphasis on close readings of crucial primary works, say, about the rise of deistic toleration or the persisting political power of Christianity-in textual particularities. The course takes as its starting point Charles Taylor's monumental account A Secular Age and works from there through various episodes of the Enlightenment and its long aftermath.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM EN: H


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Director

Marie Griffith
John C. Danforth Distinguished Professor in the Humanities
PhD, Harvard University

Faculty

John D. Inazu
Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law & Religion
PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Laurie Maffly-Kipp
Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor
PhD, Yale University

Lerone A. Martin
Assistant Professor
PhD, Emory University

Leigh Eric Schmidt
Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor
PhD, Princeton University

Mark Valeri
Reverend Priscilla Wood Neaves Distinguished Professor of Religion and Politics
PhD, Princeton University

Postdoctoral Research Associates

Christine Croxall
PhD, University of Delaware

Moshe Kornfeld
PhD, University of Michigan

Dana Logan
PhD, Indiana University

Gene Zubovich
PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Assistant Director

Debra Kennard
BA, Indiana University