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Divided by Faith

When Alexis de Tocqueville toured the United States in 1830 he described the unique American tension of religion and democracy as a "harmonization of heaven and earth." One might suspect that if Tocqueville returned today and witnessed the searing inferno of rhetoric regarding church and state he might invoke a different metaphor.  This course relates to the overarching theme, "What is a Good Society?" Although church and state are kept separate by the US Constitution, religion and politics  are often connected in a number of ways and mutually influence each other.  A glance at the major news stories in recent years (Supreme Court nominees, justification of war, stem cell research etc.)  reveals that the American  society continues to live in the tension of the first amendment.  This course connects most closely to chapters II and III as we will discuss the hotly contested role of religion in society.  This course will examine contributions from Native American traditions, religious thinkers and activists, constitutional framers and theorists, and the implications of significant court decisions.  Historical and contemporary  church/state dilemmas will be examined and critiqued as we seek to form a more civil society.