Course description

The secularization thesis argues that as societies modernize, religion becomes a less important facet of life. However, the evidence for a decline in religion's contemporary political salience is extremely equivocal. Indeed, multiple indicators suggest religious belief and belonging are currently experiencing a political resurgence across the globe. This course examines the role religion has played in shaping political processes and how they have changed (or not) in recent decades. It analyzes religion's present-day influence on political realities in the United States, frequently considered exceptional in its religiosity, and Europe, which is widely held to be a secularized continent. It assesses the degree to which religion affects public life in comparative context, and concludes by considering the implications for democratic governance when religion stakes overtly political claims. Students gain the tools to think critically about religion's role in politics and the tensions accompanying it in liberal, pluralistic societies.

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