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Religious Pluralism and the Politics of Difference

The U.S. is more multireligious than ever before, and Americans are often eager to proclaim their commitment to religious freedom and their respect for religious diversity. However, religious intolerance and hostility continue to be a problem in the United States, and religious difference remains a source of conflict. This first-year seminar explores the possibilities and perils of American religious pluralism, with attention to the changing religious demographics in the U.S. and the evolving ways that diverse Americans have attempted to live peaceably across boundaries of religious difference. Considering both historical and contemporary examples, this course considers religious pluralism in relation to several other aspects of American life, including immigration; race and racism; law, politics, and public policy; popular culture; economic life; health; and family. Moreover, this course introduces students to fundamental issues in religious studies—in particular, the contested meaning of “religion” and its implications for the academic study of religion, as well as the pursuit of justice and freedom in the U.S. today.


This syllabus was created for the Young Scholars in American Religion program.

Melissa Borja

University of Michigan

Public College or University
Institution Type

Resource Type

Undergraduate Course, Seminar
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies, American Studies

General Comparative Traditions
Religous Tradition

Immigration/Refugees, Politics/Law/Government, Pluralism/Secularism/Culture Wars, Race/Ethnicity

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