Studying
Religion in
Culture


REL 100-001
Introduction to Religious Studies


REL 100-001
Class Times: T/Th 12:30-1:45
Location: Russell Hall 159


Professor
Dr. Russell T. McCutcheon
(email)
Office Hour: TBA
Office: Manly Hall 211
Phone:
348-8512


Graduate Teaching Assistants
Becky Read-Wahidi (email)
Michelle Satcher (email)
Office: Manly 315
Office Hours
Becky: T 11:00-12:00 pm
Michelle: W 1:00-2:00 pm


Background

Who was Rudolf Otto?

Who was Paul Tillich?

Who was Mircea Eliade?

Who is Karen Armstrong?

Who was Karl Marx?

Who was Emile Durkheim?

Who was Sigmund Freud?

Who was Ludwig Wittgenstein?

Who was Mary Douglas?

Who is Jonathan Z. Smith?


Resources

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (passed by Congress 1789/ratified by Congress 1791)

The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (proposed on June 13, 1866, and ratified by Congress onJuly 9, 1868

The Lemon Test (1971); the court decision from which this legal test is derived can be found here.

Youtube
Interpreting the Constitution: Originalism vs. Living Document

Youtube
A Conversation on Constitutional Interpretation: Justices Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia
Part 1 and Part 2

Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial (watch this episode from PBS's Nova)

Abington School District, PA v. Schempp (1963)


Related Test Cases:
Is it Religion?

 
 
 
 

 

Description

As a general introduction to the academic study of religion, REL 100 is focused on the problem of defining religion, in theory and in practice. The course examines classic approaches to defining religion, identifies the theories of religion's role or purpose implicit in each.

As a Core Curriculum Humanities course, REL 100's goal is for all students to learn to define, accurately describe, and compare in a non-evaluative manner so as to find significant similarities and differences among forms of observable human behavior.


Syllabus (PDF)


There is one book required for this course (available at the University Supply store, as well as other local bookstores), written specifically for the class: Studying Religion: An Introduction


In the News...

What would you decide...?


Opening Case Study

Pleasant Grove City v. Summum (Case # 07-665) focuses on the First Amendment's free speech clause, which forbids the government from discriminating among private speakers in public forums on the basis of the content of their speech.

Based on this, the Summum church, which seeks to erect a monument to its "seven aphorisms" in a public park in Pleasant Grove, Utah, argues that the government can also not discriminate between private monuments donated for public parks.

Our Question: Should the city be mandated to accept the monument?

National Public Radio: Supreme Court Hears Religious Display Case (Nov. 12, 2008)

Visit Summum's web site. Find the Seven Aphorisms, and an explanation of each, under "Philosophy" in the main menu, in the sub-menu select "Principles of Creation."

Learn more about the Fraternal Order of Eagles which, in the 1960s, donated Ten Commandments monuments to a number of cities across the US.

Read The New York Times article on the Summum case


Online Resources

The following resources and readings are in the order in which we will use them (see the course schedule on the syllabus).

If you have difficulty accessing the readings below then contact the instructor by email. The username and password will be given out in class for any reading on the Department's "secure" server.

The Story of the Blind Monks and the Elephant

Nix v. Hedden, 149 US 304 (1893)

Jeff Strickler, "Youths Don't Trust Religions"
John Blake, "Are There Dangers in Being 'Spiritual But Not Religious'?"
The Life and Times of Tim: What is a Restaurant?
Plato's Euthyprho

Rudolf Otto,"Religion is an Experience of Awe and Mystery" (PDF)

Paul Tillich, "Religion is an Expression of Ultimate Concern" (PDF)

Mircea Eliade, Foreword, Patterns in Comparative Religion (p. xvii) (PDF)

Karen Armstrong, Preface to Islam: A Short History (PDF)

Karen Armstrong, "The True Peaceful Face of Islam"

Learn more about
essentialism


Test 1 (PDF)

Grading Key (PDF)


Karl Marx and Fredrick Engles, "Religion is the Opium of the People" (PDF)

Emile Durkheim, Book 1, Chpt. 1, "A Definition of the Religious Phenomenon and of Religion" from The Elementary Forms of Religious Life

Sigmund Freud, "Religion is an Illusion Produced by Psychological Projection" (PDF)

Learn more about
functionalism


Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, PA, Case No. 04cv2688 (PDF)


Horace Miner, "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema" (PDF)
Learn more about Horace Miner...

David MaCaulay, Motel of the Mysteries (PDF; click book cover, to the left)

Mark Muesse, "Making the Strange Familiar and the Familiar Strange" (PDF)

An example of the
insider/outsider problem


Test 2 (PDF)

Grading Key (PDF)


Ludwig Wittgenstein, "Philosophical Investigations, paragraphs 66-70" (PDF)

William Alston, Excerpt from "Religion" from The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (PDF)

Learn more about
family resemblance


Mary Douglas, "Ritual Uncleanness," from Purity and Danger (PDF)

Mary Douglas, "Secular Defilement," from Purity and Danger (PDF)

Mary Douglas, "The Abominations of Leviticus," from Purity and Danger (PDF)


Jonathan Z. Smith, "The Introductory Course: Less is Better" (PDF on course web site)