Title: Religion and Politics (790:472:01)
Instructor: Ben Pauli
Instructor’s e-mail: bjpauli@rci.rutgers.edu
Days, times, location: TF 10:55-12:15PM  HSB-106
Office hours: Hickman Hall 309: TBD

This course will explore the relationship between religion and politics by way of their interaction within the western tradition. Beginning by situating religion in relation to mythological, philosophical, and scientific ways of understanding the world, the first part of the class will examine the ways in which early religious thinkers brought religious ideas to bear on matters of earthly political organization, and how practical political questions influenced religious doctrine and institutions in turn. The tensions and alliances between church and state, as well as institutional religion, religious doctrine, and individual religious practice, will be traced through the Middle Ages and the rise of Protestantism. A significant portion of the course will focus on the rise of secularism in the modern world, exploring the separation of church and state, the question of tolerance, and the rise of science, as well as outright attacks on the role of religion in human life. Finally, two different responses to the increasing separation of religion and public life will be examined—one which emphasizes the importance of religion to individual conscience and attempts to wed it to progressive social change, and another which opposes the separation of church and state and the subordination of religious truth to secular social and political agendas.