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RELS/HUM 162 Religion and Political Controversy (SUM 2013)


Religions function as world-views which simultaneously interpret and create the universe in which we live. Often it is from within religious structures and institutions that people explicitly ask the existential questions: Why do we exist? From where do we come? How should we treat others? What should we do during our lives? While the answers to such questions may establish the ground for ethical living, mutually exclusive answers to the same questions can also provoke conflict. In this course, we will examine how religion is a major force in contemporary conflicts in America, and how religion plays a role in the ongoing political life of the United States. The course addresses the role of institutional religions and personal religious practice in shaping public debates. Religious pluralism in the US and the history of recent and contemporary events will provide us with the contexts for examining these and related “contemporary problems (e.g. ecology, abortion, war, gender, sexuality and race) as interpreted by a diverse range of American ethno-religious groups” (SJSU course catalogue).