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Boisi Center Symposia on Religion and Politics

2013-2014:  Religious Diversity and the Common Good

Religious diversity is frequently cited as evidence of a free and flourishing society, but it can be a source of conflict and misunderstanding as much as peace and respect. In what ways does religious diversity contribute to or detract from the common good? Can a religious community be a part of the larger society while maintaining its distinct faith and practices? Or must religious communities choose between assimilation (in “the melting pot”) and separation?

2012-2013:  Religious Freedom in America

What is religious freedom? What is its proper role and scope in the United States? How do various interpretations of this freedom affect law, policy, and politics in American public life?
This non-credit reading and discussion group is open to undergraduate and graduate students in any school at Boston College.  We will read texts that address the meaning of religious freedom in the context of electoral politics, law, education, civil disobedience, bioethics, and American Islam. In six sessions over the course of the academic year (two in the fall and four in the spring), the group will discuss the theories and practices of religious freedom expressed in these texts.

2011-2012: Is God-talk a Requirement in American Politics?

Why do references to God and faith play such an important role in the current presidential campaigns? What role has God and faith played in American political history?
In this non-credit reading and discussion group, we read seminal speeches in American political history that address contemporary political questions. Topics include: immigration, racism, national crisis, American exceptionalism, public morality, and social welfare. In six sessions over the course of the academic year (two in the fall and four in the spring), the group will discuss different views expressed in these speeches about God and the proper role of God and faith in American political rhetoric.

2010-2011: How Christian is American Politics?

Participants read seminal speeches in American political history that addressed this and related questions, including those of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, as well as Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney. Topics included: the founding, war and national crisis, religion and the presidential candidate, racism, federalism and public morality, and the 2012 election and contraception debate. Designed and facilitated by graduate research assistant, Brenna R. Strauss.