Religion and the Election in the Classroom

Paul Harvey

Jim Bennett of Santa Clara University has posted the following query to H-AMREL:

An excellent post by Paul Harvey ("Religion and Politics at the Rotary Club") on his Religion in American History blog made me curious how others teach religion and politics, and especially how people plan to integrate the election this year. Do you have particular excercises, readings or resources that you've found particularly helpful oreffective in teaching the topic, whether it is providing historicalcontext or exploring contemporary issues? Those of us on the quarter system who are still fine tuning our fall syllabi would grateful for any suggestions. Thanks in advance.

Jim's query has generated plenty of replies and interesting classroom ideas from a variety of perspectives. Click here for a sampling, starting with Sept. 12 and going forward.


John G. Turner said…
This is more to your previous post on religion and the founding fathers. I think it's important to help students understand why the intersection of religion and politics became so messy. On the one hand, a "godless" constitution and many non-traditionally-Protestant founders. On the other hand, I like to have students read Washington's Thanksgiving proclamation from Fall 1789 and consider how our first governments could establish chaplains, proclaim days of thanksgiving, etc. In other words, no strict separation of church and state (and where did that phrase come from?). Only T Jefferson really tried to follow a strict separation among early presidents. Then I often talk about John Ruggles's conviction for blasphemy in 1810.

In short, I want students to understand why the situation became so messy. It started out very messy. I think this avoids both the mythical "Christian founding" and the mythical complete separation of church and state.

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