Americans tend to separate religion and politics, but does this really work? Is the separation of religion and government desirable or even possible? Think about 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 be related to religion?
The relationship between religion and politics is not simply a foreign affairs matter but applies in the U.S. as well. Presidential elections often have strong religious overtones. The inauguration of the president entails religious symbols. The name of God is on American money. Despite our best efforts, politics and religions are inextricably intertwined. A basic knowledge of religious traditions can help you begin to make sense of all of this.
Our religion major will introduce you to a variety of religious traditions and offer 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 faculty research specific instances where religion and politics intersect and offer courses on topics such as Islamophobia, racism, and the Holocaust.
Our study away 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 make it clear that to study religion is to understand politics.