This course examines religious pluralism in the United States, including such topics as: the philosophic background of the idea of religious pluralism, the role of religion in personal and social identity (including the parameters of gender, race, and class), conflicts between religions and religious violence, the role of religion in cultural imperialism, interactions between religious traditions, and the impact of non-Western religions on American philosophers. By means of this survey students will become familiar with the major themes in Religious Studies. The course will examine both those religions which were introduced to the Americas and those which arose within the context of American culture.
Recommend eligibility for English 1A
No department requirement
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND The nature of religion 1 week Sources of religion in the United States Native American religions 1 week African religions 1 week European and Near Eastern religions 2 weeks Judaism; Orthodox and Roman Catholicism; Protestantism (especially Calvinism); Rosicrucianism; IslamAsian religions 2 weeks Advaita Vedanta, Yoga, Krishna Bhakti-yoga; Theravada, Chinese, Zen, Nichiren and Pure Land Buddhism; Unification ChurchReligions indigenous to the United States 2 weeks Beliefs, practices, origin, and history; Mormons, Christian Science, Pentecostalism, Black Muslims, Spiritualism and Channeling, Millenarianism, Native American Church II. RELIGIOUS PLURALISM Philosophic basis of personal identity and social identity 1 weekRenaissance pluralism, e.g., Jean Bodin; Locke's "Letter on Toleration"Legal and political expression of religious pluralism 1 week American Constitution -- separation and protection; Appropriate Supreme Court cases III. RELIGION AND SOCIAL VALUES, GENDER ROLES, CLASS, AND RACE Religion, ethnic identity and social identity 1 week Immigrants and the "Melting Pot" Alternative vehicles for social statusReligion, social integration and social change 1 week Civil religion Liberation theology Religions of the radical right Accomodation and assimilation Religion as a means of social domination 1 week Missionaries as agents of cultural imperialism Religion and reinforcement of gender roles Images of the divine (e.g., Jesus depicted as white) and their psychological impactPolemics, religious persecution and religious violence 1 week Salem witchcraft trials Anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Mormonism Contemporary Anti-Muslim sentimentsReligion, socialization and education 1 week Secular role of public education Clashes over textbooks Pledge of AllegianceInfluence of non-Western religion on American philosophy 1 week
Completion of required reading and final exam. Other requirements are determined by instructor; these may include completion of one or more papers, other written exams, journal assignments, participation in class discussion, class attendance, etc.
In accordance with Title V regulations, there must be at least one substantial (greater than one paragraph) writing assignment. Generally, evaluation is based primarily on written papers and essay examinations.
Suggested Instructional Methods and Materials
Primarily lecture and discussion. This can be supplemented by films, videos, oral reports, guest speakers, class debates, etc., as deemed appropriate and desirable by the individual instructor. Readings should include primary source material. |||