REL 330

Religion in America

This course surveys a history of religion in the United States from the early nation to the present day. The course focuses on a central question: should American religious history be told as a story of increasing religious diversity and freedom? The course considers key primary sources¿founding documents, court cases, political cartoons, accusations, and apologetics¿and weighs these alongside these alongside the arguments of scholars in religious studies. These include historian William Hutchinson, who argues that pluralism in the United States is an ongoing legacy of the nation¿s founders and law professor Winifred Fallers Sullivan, who contests this optimistic version to suggest that the structure intended to protect religious expression have made religious freedom a practical impossibility. Students develop their own arguments in this debate through a research project that analyzes a historical or contemporary controversy over a religious freedom.