We tend to separate religion and politics. But does this really work? Is the separation of religion and government desirable or even possible? Think Ireland, the Middle East, and Myanmar. Are these conflicts religious, political, or both? And how do we respond to the conflicts around the world that seem to pertain to religion?
The relationship between religion and politics is not simply a foreign affairs matter but applies domestically as well. Presidential elections in the U.S. often have strong religious overtones. The inauguration of the president entails religious symbols. The name of God is on our money. Despite our best efforts, politics and religions are inextricably intertwined. To begin to make sense of all of this, a basic knowledge of religious tradition is extremely helpful.
Our religion major introduces students to a variety of religious traditions and offers specific courses that explore the intersection of religion and politics. Some courses also discuss questions such as "should politics consider religion?" and
"is religion political?" Some of our current faculty research specific instances where religion and politics intersect and offer courses on islamophobia, racism, and the holocaust.
Our study abroad courses take students to the Atomic Bomb Museum in Hiroshima, the Holocaust museum in Berlin, and the jail cell in which Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years. These experiences are powerful, transformative, and clarify that to study religion is to understand politics.