“In God we Trust,” “One Nation Under God,” “God Bless America,”: phrases like these alert us to the on-going influence of religion in American public life. This course explores the role of religion in shaping American civic engagement and political activity from the 17thcentury to the present, aiming to put contemporary events in broader historical context. Key topics and themes include: the relationship between church and state in the colonial period; faith and the founders; religion and social activism in the antebellum era (especially anti-slavery and women’s rights); religion, race and civil rights; religious “outsiders” and American politics (particularly Mormons, Catholics, and Muslims); spirituality and social protest in the 20th century (pacifism; feminism; and economic reform); the rise of the religious right; religion and American politics post-9/11; and the 2008 presidential election.
This syllabus was created for the Young Scholars in American Religion program.
Private College or University Institution Type
Syllabus Resource Type
Undergraduate Course Class Type
2011 Date Published
Religious Studies, American Studies, History Discipline
Catholic, General Comparative Traditions, Other Christianities, Protestant Religous Tradition
Business/Capitalism/Labor, Empire/Foreign Policy/Globalism, Gender/Women/ Sexuality, Politics/Law/Government, Pluralism/Secularism/Culture Wars, Race/Ethnicity, Nationalism/War/Civil Religion Topics