Fall 2019

Law, Religion, and Politics

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-382


Mona Oraby (Section 01)


(Analytic Seminar) Constitutional democracies have not been immune to pervasive and recurring debates over the so-called global resurgence of religion in public life. Though states across the political spectrum regulate religion in some way, this course asks: Why have constitutional democracies in particular encountered so much difficulty regulating religion? What explains their increased regulatory activity and constitutional litigation in this area? To answer these questions, the course foregrounds and evaluates three assumptions that undergird the regulation of religion in liberal democratic states: 1) law, religion, and politics are distinct spheres of human activity and ought to be separated in the name of political secularism; 2) political secularism renders states neutral toward religion in order to maximize citizens' religious freedom; and 3) adoption of secular law enables states to delineate and maintain clear barriers between the private world of religion and the public worlds of law and politics. We will track how these assumptions materialize in new and consolidated democracies, paying particular attention to social anxieties around religious difference that typically precede law's mobilization. The course concludes with a re-evaluation of the promises of secular law.

Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Oraby.

If Overenrolled: preference given to LJST majors


Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019