REL 420

Law and Religion

Notwithstanding the many attempts around the world to separate them, the spheres of law and religion repeatedly overlap in their histories and will continue to intersect into the foreseeable future. Both spheres reflect the deepest of humanistic concerns; both serve as arenas for contesting and projecting the authority of individuals, institutions, and texts within all human contexts. Law and religion chart the contours of our personal, social, and civizational identities along with the relationships between these identities and their relation to the other, both in its sentient and non-sentient forms. This seminar examines the intersection of law and religion within a broad sampling of historical and contemporary contexts. It does so with the goal of identifying the questions and debates that account for these intersections. The first half of the course surveys the most in-fluential legal systems that are grounded in what is known conventionally as a religious tradition. The second part of the course turns it attention to what is known conventionally as secular models of law to discern how such models define religion and locate themselves in relation to it.