Political Science | Religion, Politics & Public Policy
Y249 | 25118 | McGinnis


Religion and politics seem to have become more closely intertwined
in recent years, and this course provides a broader historical and
conceptual perspective on these interactions (which are not so much
new as they are different in form and now more widely recognized as
important). Our focus will be on understanding these connections at
the level of particular organizations, focusing on what kinds of
faith-based organizations (FBOs) tend to get involved in what kinds
of politics (public services, political advocacy, partisan activism,
proselytism) at either the domestic and global levels. Students will
read two general textbooks and a few reports by the U.S. State
Department detailing violations of religious liberty in particular
countries, as well as a book explaining the mobilization campaign
that led to a Congressional mandate that such reports need to be
submitted yearly. Each student will be given the opportunity
to “stump the class” by summarizing (in a brief written report) a
puzzling instance of interaction between religion and politics,
either in the U.S. or elsewhere. (The instructor’s goal is to
provide a compelling explanation for each and every one of those
puzzles.) There will be midterm and final exams, as well as in-class
exercises. A few articles will be available in electronic format,
but most readings will be taken from the following textbooks:
Kenneth Wald and Allison Calhoun-Brown, Religion and Politics in the
United States, 5th edition (2007), Jacob Neusner, ed., God’s Rule:
The Politics of World Religions (2003) and Allen Hertzke, Freeing
God’s Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights
(2004).