Religion and Politics in the US

Welcome to RelPol, a student peer reviewed online magazine. This magazine is part of the assessment for the module "In God We Trust" @ the University of Hull.

Syllabus / Module Handbook

Contact / Office Hours / This site

This is the module page for the US Religion module at the University of Hull, 1st semester 2015/16, module 38390.

Dr Alexander Darius Ornella, School of Social Sciences / University of Hull

Office hours: Wednesday 10.30-11.30am, Rm WI-269A


The USA are not only one of the most religiously diverse countries to date, but religion – broadly understood – is tightly woven into their history and their self-understanding as nation and people. As ‘chosen nation’, they have a duty to fulfill in this world; as New Jerusalem they have to enact their covenant (with God) in sacred rites, sacred symbols, and a sacred language. This religious undercurrent which dates back to before the birth of the nation is still at work today and influences political campaigns, Presidential speeches, and the ethico-social framework.

This module will discuss the influence of religion on the USA becoming a nation. It will introduce students to Robert Bellah’s concept of “civil religion” and the academic debate his concept caused. Further, the module will look at and analyze how the symbols and the language of civil religion are at work at Presidential campaigns and addresses as well as in media representations of the USA and their presidents.

Learning Outcome

The module examines the impact of religion on the self-understanding of the United States of America as a nation. It contributes to an awareness that a separation of church and state does not necessarily imply the exclusion of religion from public life or a decline in the practice of religion. Upon successful completion of the module, you will be able to critically reflect on how religious ideas contribute to national self-understanding and national memory; analyze how religious symbols and language are used to express and enact the idea of a chosen nation in texts and media representations; critically reflect on the relationship between religion and politics; comment on and explain the power of religious symbols and language; apply scholarly methods to the analysis of texts and images.

Learning and Teaching Strategy / Tutorials

This module consists of 10 x 2 hour workshops. These are not traditional lectures but include interactive lectures, student presentations, readings and discussions of readings, viewing and the discussion of images and video clips. As such, you are expected to actively participate and contribute to our class session. Your contribution is part of the assessment. In addition, there will be tutorials to help you familiarize with the technology used in this module and discuss any questions you might have regarding the module content in more detail.


The University of Hull provides a range of resources for you to prepare for your presentation, ranging from the online and offline library resources to a fully equipped TV studio in Holme House.

Module Handbook

The module handbook can be downloaded as PDF from eBridge





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