Dr. Laurie M. Johnson

Political Thought

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Home: Polsc 675: Syllabus

Political Science 675: Religion and Politics


Kenneth Wald, Religion and Politics in the United States, Rowman & Littlefield, 4th Edition.

Mansoor Moaddel and Kamran Talattof, editors, Modernist and Fundamentalist Debates in Islam, Palgrave, 2002.

All other readings online or provided.


There will be two in-class essay exams--a midterm and a final. The midterm will cover materials through the first half of the course (domestic) and the final will cover information from the second half of the course (international) with a comprehensive optional question.

You will be required to participate in the K-State Online message board discussion about the readings, in a meaningful way, at least once per week (suggested length of commentary, 1 paragraph). You will also be required to post a report on a particular reading once during the semester and be responsible for answering questions about it in class from me and other students. This report should be the length equivalent of 2-3 typed double spaced pages, but should be posted directly to the message board under the thread "Reports." Other students may reply or ask questions either through the message board or in-class. Readings eligible for reporting should come either from the non-group readings listed in the syllabus or they must be approved by me. More than one student can report on the same article, but they should not collaborate. Reports can be done and posted at any time, but must appear by the first day that the topic is being discussed. More on the structure of reports appears at the end of the syllabus. Plagiarism or academic dishonesty of any kind will result in an XF for the class and a mandatory course on academic integrity in accordance with university policy and the honor system.


Midterm essay exam 100 points

Final essay exam 150 points

Message board report 40 points*

Message board participation 60 points**

*Late reports will have ten points deducted for every week they are late.

**No participation during the week will result in a "0" for that week.

I. Domestic Issues


August 23, 25, 30 :

John Locke, "A Letter Concerning Toleration"

Kenneth Wald, Chapter 3, "Religion and American Political Culture," in Religion and Politics
in the United States
, 1997.


Religion and the Public Sphere

September 1:

Video: "With God on Our Side," PBS. Waters 244 Reserved 1-2:30 p.m. Please go there on Sept. 1.


September 6, 8:

Wald, Chapter 5, "Religion and American Public Policy."

Wald, Chapter 6, "The Religious Dimension of American Political Behavior."


September 13, 15:

Wald, Chapter 7, "The Political Mobilization of Evangelical Protestants."

Wald, Chapter 8, "Continuity and Change Outside the Evangelical Camp."



September 20, 22:


"Conservatives, Darwin and Design: An Exchange," by Larry Arnhart, Michael J. Behe, and William A. Dembski, First Things, Vol 107, November 200, pp.23-31. Group.

"The Darwinian Universe: Isn't there room for God?" by John F. Haught, Commonweal, January 25, 2002, pp. 12-18. Group.

"Expelling Darwin," Commonweal, September 10, 1999, pp. 5-6.

"The Darwinian Struggle: Catholics Pay Attention," by John F. Haught, Commonweal, September 24, 1999, pp. 14-16.

"Has Darwin Met His Match?" by David Berlinski, Commentary, December 2002, pp. 31-41.

"Is Evolution True?" Journal of the Southern Baptist Convention, February/March 2003. Group.


September 27, 29:

Stem Cell Research

"Stem Cells and False Hopes," by Maureen L. Condic, First Things, Vol. 125, (August/Sept. 2002), pp. 21-22. Group.

"The Basics about Stem Cells," By Maureen L. Condic, First Things, Vol. 119, January 2002, pp. 30-34. Group.

"Is the Embryo a Person? Arguing with the Catholic Traditions," by Jean Porter, Commonweal, February 8, 2002, pp. 8-13. (Group)

"The Stem Cell Sell," Commonweal, August 17, 2002, pp. 5-6.

"Why I Oppose Human Cloning," by Jeremy Rifkin, Tikkun, July-August 2002.

"A Reply to Rifkin," by Raymond Barglow, Tikkun, July-August, 2002.

Overture 01-50. On Adopting a Resolution Enunciating Ethical Guidelines for Fetal Tissue and Stem Cell Research-From the Presbytery of Baltimore. Presbyterian Church USA. Group.

Resolution On Human Embryonic And Stem Cell Research, Southern Baptist Convention, 1999. Group.

Same-Sex Marriage

October 4, 6:

"Same-Sex Marriage: As Hawaii Goes..." First Things, Vol. 72, April 1997, pp. 33-37.

'Legalize Same-Sex Marriage: Why Law & Morality Can Part Company," by Paul J. Griffiths, Commonweal, October 24, 2003. Group.

"Gay Marriage," Tikkun, January-February, 2004. Group--handout.

Recommendations From the ELCA Church Council to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly on Sexuality Studies April 11, 2005. Report and Recommendations from the Taskforce for Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Studies on Sexuality, January 2005, pp. 5-16. Group.

On Same-Sex Marriage, Resolution of the Southern Baptist Convention, 2003. Group.

Human Sexuality and the Christian Worldview, Southern Seminary, Spring 2004. From the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

October 11: Midterm


II. International/Foreign Policy


October 13: Video--Osama Bin Laden: In the Name of Allah (A & E Biography)

October 18, 20:

The War Against Terror

"World War IV: How It Started, What it Means, and Why We Have to Win It," Norman Podhoretz, Commentary, September 2004. Group--Handout.

"Moral Clarity in a Time of War," by George Weigel, First Things, Vol. 128, January 2003, pp. 20-27.

"The Western Mind of Radical Islam," by Daniel Pipes, First Things, Vol. 58, December 1995, pp. 18-23.

"The War in Iraq: How Catholic Conservatives Got it Wrong," by Peter Dula, Commonweal, December 3, 2004.

"The Triumph of Fear: The U.S. War Against Iraq," by Michael Lerner, Tikkun, March-April 2003.

"Not a Just or Moral War," Sojourners Magazine, January-February 2003 and "Dangerous Religion: George W. Bush's theology of empire," Sojourners Magazine, September-October 2003. (type in title and free registration) Group.


October 25, 27:

The Arab Israeli Conflict and the Status of Israel

"How to Think About Zionism," by Gary Anderson, First Things, Vol. 152, pp. 30-36. Group.

"The Zionist Imperative," by Emil L. Tackenheim, First Things, Vol. 50, February 1995, pp. 18-23.


"When Israel is Wrong: Christians Shouldn't Be Afraid to Say So," by Murray Polner and Adam Simms, Commonweal, October 11, 2002.

"A Glimmer of Hope: A State of All Its Citizens," by Yakov M. Rabkin, Tikkun, July-August 2002. (Handout)

"Not in My Name: Is it anti-Semitic to Criticize Israel?" Soujourners Magazine, January-February 2003 (type in title) Group.

Israel and Palestine: General Assembly Action 2004, Presbyterian Church USA. Group.


November 1: Video--"Israel in a Time of Terror," Prager Productions.


Islamic Modernism

November 3, 8:

Islam and Politics:

"War and Peace: Popular Jihad," Moulavi Chiragh Ali, pp. 71-95 in Modernist and Fundamentalist Debates in Islam.

"Intellectual Pluralism and Freedom of Opinion," Sayyid Ahmad Khan, pp. 109-122, ibid.


November 10: Video: "Muhammad," A & E Biography.


Islam and Western Civilization

November 15, 17:

"Social Liberalism and Laissez-Faire Capitalism," Anonymous, pp. 123-134, ibid.

"Islam and Civilization," Muhammad Farid Wajdi, 135-144, ibid.


"The Rights of Women," Sayyid Ahmad Khan, pp 159-162, ibid.

"The Liberation of Women," Qasim Amin, 163-182, ibid.


Islamic Fundamentalism

November 22, 29:

Islam and Politics

"War, Peace, and Islamic Jihad," Sayyid Quth, 223-246, ibid.

"The Pillars of an Islamic State," Imam Ruhulla Khomeini, 247-250, ibid.

"The Political Theory of Islam," Sayyid Abul A'la Maududi, 263-272, ibid.


Islam and Western Civilization

December 1: Video: "Al Qaeda's New Front," PBS Frontline.

December 6, 8:

"Critical Attitude toward the West and the Idea of Western Decadence," Ali Shariati, 315-324, ibid.

"Self-Destructiveness of Western Civilization," Sayyid Abul A'la Maududi," 325-332, ibid.

"Westoxication," Jalal Al-i Ahmad, 343-358, ibid.


"On the Islamic Hijab," Murtaza Mutahhari, pp. 361-372, ibid.


Final Exam: Wednesday December 14, 2-3:50

Pointers on reports:

Reports on articles for the message board should summarize the main points of the article, bring up any facts you found particularly interesting, and provide your analysis of the author's argument and your own opinion on the subject. Remember that other students are reading your report for a summary of the article, so make sure that this part is thorough enough to get the main argument across to all readers. Try to write in brief paragraphs, followed by a space between paragraphs, since the message board will not take double space. Compose your report on a word processor to be 2-3 pages double spaced, and then paste into the message board space.

Questions to consider:

What was this article about?

What was the author's point--i.e., what was he/she arguing? If the article was truly objective or a statement, explain this.

What interesting and important facts were raised?

Was the presentation good enough to convince you, or faulty in some ways?

What is your opinon about the issue discussed in the article?

Related Issues in Bioethics--these are additional articles that can be reviewed any time before the midterm:

Right to Live/Right to Die

"Annihilating Terry Schiavo," Commentary June 2005. (I have this article--just ask)

"Always to Care, Never to Kill: A Declaration on Euthanasia." Multiple authors from Jewish and Christian backgrounds, First Things, Vol. 20, February 1992.

"'Right to Die'--Good Slogan, Fuzzy Thinking," by Yale Kamisar, First Things, Vol. 93, December 1993, pp. 6-9.

"A Lethal Evolution," by Nancy Valko, First Things Vol. 118, December 2001, pp. 21-24.

"Allowing to die," Commonweal, November 7, 2003, pp. 7-8.

"Allowing to die II," Commonweal, April 23, 2004, pp. 5-6.


Related Issues in Islam and Terrorism--these are additional articles that can be reviewed any time before November 8:

"War, Sex, and God: Religious Terrorism in the Mind of Mark Juergensmeyer," by Roger Friedland, Tikkun, May/June 2000 (I have--just ask)

"Islam and Freedom," by James Q. Wilson, Commentary, December 2004 (I have).

"The Islamization of Europe?" by David Pryce-Jones, Commentary, December 2004 (I have).

"The Left and the Islamists," Joshua Kurlantzick, Commentary, December 2004 (I have).

"What Kind of War?: Four Responses," Commonweal, Sept. 28, 2001.

"American Destiny: Safe for the Rest of the World?" Commonweal, May 17, 2002.

"London: A Sad Reminder of a Hollow Claim," Sojourners, July 13, 2005.
















Dep't of Political Science
Kansas State University
Primary Texts Certificate