Category: Religion & Politics


Steven Pfaff on the World of 1517

What did Europe look like economically, politically, and religiously on the eve of the Protestant Reformation? What broad historical trends facilitated the success Martin Luther’s schismatic break from the Catholic Church where others in the past had failed? Prof. Steve Pfaff (Sociology, University of Washington) discusses the factors spurring on the Protestant Reformation, sharing some of the most up-to-date research on how social movements spread.

The second in our series devoted to the people and events of the Protestant Reformation. Great for classroom use.

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Robert D. Rubin on Judicial Review & the Religious Right

Prior to the 1980s, the incipient Religious Right was skeptical of the US judicial system given a variety of decisions that went against their interests. Dr. Robert Daniel Rubin examines how Southern Christians came to embrace judicial review using two crucial court cases involving education in Mobile, Alabama, and Judge Brevard Hand who decided them. This discussion is both a microcosm of social and political change brewing in the South in the 1980s, but also a reflection of broader trends developing in American society.

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Frank Selden on the Military, Suicide, and Faith

Frank Selden, a Seattle-area attorney and author, joins us for a very personal and impactful discussion on his service in the military, his various suicide attempts, his faith, and how religious faith has approached the topic of suicide over the years. We learn how his views towards the Iraq War changed over two tours of duties, how he emerged from a suicidal spiral, and his perspective on religious faith today.

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Sarah Dreier on Anglicans, Lutherans, and African Churches

As certain Christian denominations in Europe and America turn towards progressive values such as the support for same-sex marriage and other LGBTQI rights, how do their affiliated churches in Africa manage this cultural change? Sarah K. Dreier, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington, explores this often overlooked tension within transnational organizations. She discusses how African Anglican and Lutheran churches that have a stable source of funding and/or are facing significant competition from Pentecostal churches are more likely to vocally oppose progressive policies on sexuality and gender issues.

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Cara Lea Burnidge on Religion and Woodrow Wilson

To what extent did President Woodrow Wilson’s southern Presbyterian upbringing play in shaping his political attitudes and American foreign policy? Prof. Cara Burnidge (U of Northern Iowa) addresses this question in a fascinating discussion that tracks the former Princeton University president through a period of dynamic religious and political change in American history. A strong Calvinist influence combines with the burgeoning thought of the social gospel movement in the late 19th century and leads to a vision for a “new world order.”

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Jeremy Menchik on Islam, Tolerance, Democracy, & Indonesia

Indonesia is both the world’s largest majority Muslim country and a consolidated democracy. Yet, unlike Western democracies, the Indonesian state pursues a policy of Godly nationalism that prioritizes religious belief over secularism. Despite this, the nation also exhibits a high level of religious toleration for various religious minorities including Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and various variants of Islam. Prof. Jeremy Menchik (Boston University) discusses this interesting balancing act and explains

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Chris Soper on the Challenge of Religious Pluralism

How do various democratic nations manage increasing religious pluralism around the world?  Prof. Christopher Soper, a distinguished political scientist at Pepperdine University, answers this question and talks about the third edition of his book The Challenge of Pluralism, co-authored with Kevin den Dulk and the late Stephen Monsma.  After Chris provides a few reflections on […]

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Jason Klocek on Religious Conflict and Repression

Why do governments repress religious organizations? Jason Klocek, a doctoral candidate at the University of California at Berkeley, explains how government experience with, and fear of, conflict that has a religious dimension will motivate rulers to crack down not only on religious that appear to be a direct threat, but most religions in general. He shares the research results of a study he conducted with Prof. Peter Henne of the University of Vermont and provides a number of interesting case studies to illustrate their explanation, including Russia and China.

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Davis Brown on Religion, Initiating War, and Data

Does the religious composition of a nation and its leaders have an impact on whether a country will initiate a war? Prof. Davis Brown, a research fellow at Baylor’s ISR, discusses his most recent article on this subject and details a new data set that he has constructed (and is expanding) to answer questions like this one and others. His analysis reveals that countries with a Christian war ethic have been much less likely to initiate wars than ones with an Islamic war ethic, dating back to 1946.

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Does America Need a Christian Democratic Party?

With all the tumult in the American political landscape recently, is the United States pump primed for a Christian Democratic party similar to those in Europe? Three scholars debate this topic based upon a scholarly symposium published in the journal “Perspectives on Political Science.” Prof. Hunter Baker (Union University), the organizer of the symposium, argues that the time is right for Christian Democracy in America. Prof. Bryan McGraw (Wheaton College) notes that while Christian Democracy (CD) was helpful in Europe for consolidating democracy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the conditions in the U.S. are not ripe for CD. Finally, Prof. Micah Watson (Calvin College) takes a decidedly negative position towards the concept of CD. Your host, Tony, chimes in with his own thoughts at the end.

Let us know your position by clicking “read more” and commenting on our discussion board.

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