Religion and Politics

This course introduces the student to the many-sided relationship between religion and politics. The former's area of primary concern is the sacred; the latter deals with the profane. But the two have long been both rivals and allies in the exercise of power and authority. Religions link the human condition to someone or something of ultimate importance, and they tell people what they need to do to live properly. Politics, on the other hand, is an enterprise that seeks to manage everyday life. It does this by coordinating energies, distributing goods, and ordering the relationships of people in line with certain principles, which may or may not claim transcendent status. Religions proclaim beliefs, conduct rites and rituals, and order the lives of their adherents in line with their beliefs. These are vital and formidable functions, and religious leaders have often looked to civil or secular authorities for help in performing them. As frequently, however, political authorities have sought the blessings and sanctions of religious institutions in turn, in an effort to strengthen or extend their power and authority in civil matters. In this course, we will focus on the overlap, interplay, and tensions between religion and politics in both Christian and Islamic societies.

Class attendance will not be optional. Students with more than two absences will have to submit a two- to three-page essay for each such absence to avoid having their participation grade adversely affected. Students are expected to do the assigned reading, and to come to class prepared to raise issues, answer questions, and respond to points or arguments made by others. Those who might be uncomfortable raising or responding to questions in class are encouraged to submit questions and comments in advance, or to turn in short, two- or three-page essays to which other students might, then, respond. Class participation will count for 30% of a student's grade for the course. In addition, two essays, of 2,000 words, or less, in length, and worth (each) 35% of the grade, will also be required. The first of these will be due on October 28th, and the second on December 4th.

The following texts may be purchased at either the Bookmarq or Sweeney=s College Books: Thomas Reese, S.J., Inside the Vatican (Harvard Univ. Press, paper); Carolyn Warner, Confessions of an Interest Group (Princeton Univ. Press, paper); L. Carl Brown, Religion and State, the Muslim Approach to Politics, (Columbia Univ. Press); Elliot Abrams (ed.), The Influence of Faith, Religious Groups and U.S. Foreign Policy (Rowman and Littlefield paper); and A. Kohut et alia, The Diminishing Divide, Religion=s Changing Role in American Politics (Brookings Institution paperback).

Course Outline and Readings

1. Introduction (August 26th and 28th)


For August 28th - N. J. Demerath, The Moth and the Flame: Religion and Power in Comparative Blur@ (on electronic reserve)

2. Politics in the Vatican and the Vatican in (September 2th -18th)


For September 2th - Reese, Inside the Vatican, Intro, and Chapters 1-2, pp.1-41;

For September 4th - Reese, Chapter 3, pp. 42-65;

For September 9th - Reese, Chapter 4, pp, 66-105;

For September 11th - Reese, Chapters 5 and 6, pp. 106-172;

For September 16th - Reese, Chapters 7 and 8, pp. 174-229;

For September 18th - Reese, Chapters 9 and 10, pp. 230-283.

3. The Catholic Church and Political Parties in Post-WW Two Europe (September23rd-October 9th)

For September 23rd - Warner, Confessions of an Interest Group, Chapters 1 and 2, pp; 3-39;

For September 25th - Warner, Chapter 3, pp. 40-73;

For September 30th - Warner, Chapter 4, pp. 74-96;

For October 2nd - Warner, Chapters 5 and 6, pp. 97-134;

For October 7th - Warner, Chapters 7 and 8, pp. 135-184;

For October 9th - Warner, Chapters 9 and 10, pp. 185-221.

4. Religion and Politics in Islam (October 14th-30th)

For October 14th - Brown, Religion and State, Part One, Chapters 1-4, pp. 1-51;

For October 21st - Brown, Part One, Chapters 5-7, and Part Two, Chapters 8 and 9, pp. 52-98;

For October 23rd - Brown, Part Two, Chapters 10 and 11, pp. 99-122;

For October 28th - Brown, Part Two, Chapters 12 and 13, pp. 123-142;

First Essay Due - October 28th

For October 30th - Brown, Part Two, Chapters 14 and 15, pp. 143-180.

5. Religious Groups and U.S. Foreign Policy (November 4th-20th)

For November 4th - Abrams (ed.), The Influence of Faith, Intro, and Chapter 1, pp. vii-x and pp; 1-31;

For November 6th - Abrams (ed.), Chapters 2 and 3, pp. 33-67;

For November 11th - Abrams (ed.), Chapters 4 and 5, pp. 69-112;

For November 13th - Abrams (ed.), Chapter 6, pp. 113-151;

For November 18th - Abrams (ed.), Chapter 7, pp. 153-174;

For November 20th - Abrams (ed.), Chapters 8 and 9, pp. 175-223.

6. The Role of Religion in U.S. Politics (November 25th-December 4th)

For November 25th - Kohut et alia, The Diminishing Divide, Chapters 1, 2 and3, pp. 1-33;

For December 2nd - Kohut et alia, Chapters 4 and 5, pp. 34-95;

For December 4th - Kohut et alia, Chapters 6 and 7, pp. 96-128.

Second Essay Due - December 4th

Department of Political Science

Marquette University
Wehr Physics Building, Room 468
PO Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
(414) 288-6842 (phone)
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