Religious Studies 3CC3 (Winter 2009)

Sovereignty and Secularization

This syllabus is posted at and is also accessible by way of my home page (see below) and the Dept. of Religious Studies website.  It will be updated periodically, and students in the class are asked to consult it regularly during the semester.

updated April 3, 2009

Dana Hollander, Department of Religious Studies, University Hall 109.  (905) 525-9140, ext. 24759**

*in your phone and e-mail messages, please let me know how I can reach you by phone

Office Hours: Wednesdays, 6-7 p.m., or by appointment

Michael Bartos, Department of Religious Studies, University Hall B117. 

Office Hours:  Tuesdays, 4-5 p.m.

CLASS MEETINGS: Tuesdays, 8:15-10 p.m., Building T13, Room 105 | campus map

TUTORIAL MEETINGS: Tuesdays, 7-8 p.m., Building T13, Room 105:

Course Description / Course Readings / Course Requirements   |   SCHEDULE: January / February / March / April

Course Description and Objectives

We will study a number of classic and contemporary considerations of the nature of leadership and authority in Western religious and secular contexts, including the relationship between the "religious" and "secular"/political spheres, and some contemporary dilemmas regarding the place of religion in public life.

A core objective of this class is to develop skills of close reading, textual analysis, and strong writing.  Our in-class work on the texts we are reading and the writing assignments are designed for you to use and improve those skills; the midterm and final exams consist of open-book essay questions that require you to apply those skills.  The course is structured in a way that encourages students to approach their education as a process that both requires and rewards active engagement.  Because the course presupposes that successful education requires the active, informed participation of students, the course requires participants to complete assigned readings prior to the course meeting at which they will be discussed, to attend all sessions, and to participate actively in course and tutorial meetings.  Preparation for, attendance at, and participation in course and tutorial meetings are required and will count toward the final grade.

Course Readings

You can generally obtain these in a number of ways - see details for each title on the syllabus.

At times you may be asked to consult or make your own copy from an online resource or from a book/copy on reserve.

You must have your own copy of all the texts to be discussed--with the same pagination as the edition selected for the class--whether in book or xeroxed form, so that you can mark them as you read and be prepared to refer to specific passages in class and tutorial, and when you write the exams.

Course Requirements

The purpose of the Text Summary and the Text Preparation is (1) to encourage you to read carefully and reflect on issues that come up in the reading, so that you are in a position to participate knowledgeably and actively in class and tutorial; and (2) to give you feedback on your writing and on working with primary texts, in preparation for writing the exam essays for this class.  

In preparing these and other written assignments, you are encouraged to use the resources of the Writing Clinic at the Center for Student Development, and to consult the writing guides by Hacker and Harvey.

Grades will be based on Text Summary (10%), Text Preparation (15%), Attendance/Participation (20%), Midterm Exam (25%), Final Exam (30%).  Failure to write any of the assignments or examinations, or 4 unexcused absences from class, constitute sufficient grounds for earning an "F" in the class.

McMaster University has a strict policy concerning Academic Integrity:  "Academic dishonesty consists of misrepresentation by deception or by other fraudulent means and can result in serious consequences, e.g., the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various kinds of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, specifically Appendix 3

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty: 1. Plagiarism, e.g., the submission of work that is not one's own or for which other credit has been obtained. 2. Improper collaboration in group work. 3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations."

Please let me know if you have any questions on how this policy applies to your work for this course.

Privacy of Information. Some of the communications among the instructor, the TA, and the students in this course will be over e-mail and on the course website. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names and e-mail addresses may become apparent to all other students in the same course. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor. 

You are advised to retain copies of any written work you submit for this class, and all your research notes, until you have received an official grade.


At certain points in the course it may make good sense to modify the schedule outlined below. The instructor reserves the right to modify elements of the course and will notify students accordingly (in class, by e-mail to participants, and by updating this online syllabus).

January 6


January 13

John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration, trans. William Popple (1689), ed. James H. Tully (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1983) [purchase book], 21-38 (" their own Consciences")

Schotten/Stevens, Religion, Politics, and the Law (1996), chap. 1: “European Roots,” 3–13 [Coursepack 1, plus missing pp. 22-23 which have been distributed separately / book ordered for reserve / complete photocopy of chapters 1 and 2 on reserve]

Text Summary 1 due in class on January 13 from students with last names beginning in A-I


William Uzgalis, "John Locke", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition) - see especially section 4: "Locke and Religious Toleration"

John Horton, "Toleration," in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1998)

January 20

John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration, 38 ("Having thus at length freed...") -58

Schotten/Stevens, Religion, Politics, and the Law, chap. 1: 13-23; chap 2: 24-44.

Beverley McLachlin, “Freedom of Religion and the Rule of Law. A Canadian Perspective,” and Jean Bethke Elshtain, “Response” in Douglas Farrow, Recognizing Religion in a Secular Society: Essays in Pluralism, Religion, and Public Policy (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2004), 12–40 (esp. 17–40). [print out personal copy from online edition]

Additional resources:

Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (authored by Thomas Jefferson, 1777; adopted by Virginia House of Delegates, 1786)

James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments (1785)

United States Constitution - see especially Amendment I (1791)

Canadian Bill of Rights (1960)

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982)

CanLII – Canadian Legal Information Institute, - provides a free database of Canadian law.

R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295

M. H. Ogilvie, Religious Institutions and the Law in Canada, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2003) [book ordered for reserve]

Text Summary 2 due in class on January 20 from students with last names beginning in J-R

January 27

discussion of McLachlin-Elshtain exchange (assigned for Jan. 20)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "On Civil Religion," book IV, chapter VIII of On the Social Contract (1762), trans. Donald A. Cress, in Basic Political Writings (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987) [selection in Coursepack 1 / book ordered for reserve] | French original

Robert N. Bellah, "Civil Religion in America" (1967), from Beyond Belief [article in Coursepack 1 / book on reserve]

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835), vol. 1, chap. 2: “Origin of the Anglo-Americans, and Importance of this Origin in Relation to their Future Condition.”  - skim chapter, looking more closely at pp. 4-7 top; pp. 7 bottom-9 (to section break), esp. pp. 8-9 on "the spirit of religion and the spirit of liberty."

Text Summary 3 due in class on January 27 from students who did not prepare Text Summary 1 or 2

February 3

discussion of McLachlin-Elshtain exchange (assigned for Jan. 20) and Tocqueville selection (assigned for Jan. 27)

Max Weber, selections from Economy and Society (published posthumously, 1922):

  • selection from "The Types of Legitimate Domination" (Economy and Society, ed. Roth/Wittich, vol. 1: 212-16) [selection in Coursepack 1 / book on reserve]
  • "Power and Domination: Transitional Forms" (in Max Weber: Readings and Commentary on Modernity, ed. Kalberg: 179-86) [selection in Coursepack 1 / print personal copy from online edition / book on reserve]
  •  "Charisma and its Transformation" (Economy and Society, ed. Roth/Wittich, vol. 2: 1111-57)  [selection in Coursepack 1 / book on reserve]


Norman Birnbaum, "Weber, Max" (1987) in Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed., ed. Lindsay Jones (2005) [available online to McMaster affiliates]

Text Preparation 1 due from students in Group 1

February 10

conclude discussion of Max Weber, "Charisma and its Transformation" (assigned for Feb. 3)

Max Weber, "Prophet" from Economy and Society (ed. Roth/Wittich, vol. 1: 439-51) [selection in Coursepack 1 / book on reserve]

Book of Jeremiah, chaps. 21–29

Max Weber, Ancient Judaism (1917-19; published posthumously 1921), chap. XI, pp. 267-96 [selection in Coursepack 1, plus missing notes on pp. 455-56 which have been distributed separately/ book on reserve]

Supplementary Resources on Prophets and on the Book of Jeremiah:

Christine Hayes, "Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)" (2006) transcripts and audio of an "OpenYale" course at Yale University: read or listen to overview of the Book of Jeremiah in Lecture 18: transcript (search for "Now the prophet") | audio (begin at approximately 24:40 min.)

John C. Schmitt, "Preexilic Hebrew Prophecy," in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (1992), vol. 5, 482-489, esp. 482-86 [book is in Mills Reference, call no. BS 440 .A54 1992]

The Jewish Study Bible (2004) [book on reserve]:

  • Marc Zvi Brettler, "Nevi'im," 451-61

  • Marvin A. Sweeney, introduction to the Book of Jeremiah, 917-21 

Text Preparation 2 due from students in Group 2

Midterm Exam Preparation Sheet

February 24

MIDTERM EXAM, 7-9 p.m.  

March 3 Special Meeting Time 7-9 p.m. (no tutorial today)

Please also bring with you your copies of the readings for February 10.

Martin Buber, “Biblical Leadership” (1933) [selection in Coursepack 2 / copy from The Martin Buber Reader on reserve]

Martin Buber, The Prophetic Faith (1940), 60–69, 170–83 [selection in Coursepack 2 / copy from book on reserve]

Text Preparation 3 due from students in Group 3



Tamra Wright, "Buber, Martin," in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1998) 

Samuel Hugo Bergman and Ephraim Meir, "Buber, Martin," in Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed. (2007)

March 10

Carl Schmitt, Political Theology. Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (1922): chaps. 1 and 3 [purchase book / make personal copy from book on reserve]

Text Preparation 4 due from students in Group 4.


Volker Neumann, "Introduction" to chap. 9: "Carl Schmitt," in Arthur J. Jacobson and Bernhard Schlink (eds.), Weimar. A Jurisprudence of Crisis (2000), 280-90 [book on reserve] 


March 24

conclude discussion of Schmitt, Political Theology, chap. 3

* * * *

begin discussion of:

Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, "Civil and Religious Law in England: A Religious Perspective" (Lecture before the Royal Courts of Justice, February 7, 2008) [print out personal copy from the web - Note: For ease of reference in class and in your writing, please number the paragraphs on your printout.]

Janice Gross Stein, “Religion, Culture, and Rights: A Conversation about Women” (2008) [print out personal copy from the web / copy from article on reserve]

CBC Radio “The Current,” March 31, 2008 – including documentary by Kathleen Goldhar, “Faith in the Law”: scroll down to bottom to "Listen to Part Three" of the program (approximately the first 22 minutes)

Suzanne Last Stone, "The Intervention of American Law in Jewish Divorce" (2000), pp. 174-85 [print out personal copy]

Additional Resources:

“Untying the Bonds: Jewish Divorce" (film, 1997) [view at Lyons Instructional Media Centre]

Bruker v. Marcovitz, 2007 SCC 54 

Divorce Act - see in particular 21(1) "Affidavit re removal of barriers to religious remarriage"

Noah Feldman, "Why Shariah?"  New York Times (March 16, 2008)

"Bouchard-Taylor Commission"  (official name: Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences, Quebec)

Text Preparation 5 due from students in Group 5.


March 31

conclude discussion of readings for March 24.

* * * *

Print out personal copies of the readings below.

Anver M. Emon, "Islamic Law and the Canadian Mosaic: Politics, Jurisprudence, and Multicultural Accommodation" (2008) (feel free to skim pp. 405-410)

Natasha Bakht, "Were Muslim Barbarians Really Knocking On the Gates of Ontario? The Religious Arbitration Controversy - Another Perspective" (2005)

Anna C. Korteweg, "The Sharia Debate in Ontario" in ISIM Review* 18 (Autumn 2006), pp. 50-51. (*Note: ISIM Review was a publication of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World)

Additional Resources:

Marion Boyd, "Dispute Resolution in Family Law: Protecting Choice, Promoting Inclusion" (Report to the Government of Ontario) (2004) 

Family Statute Law Amendment Act (2006) - see esp. 1.(1)(b)

Arbitration Act, 1991

Text Preparation 6 due from anyone who has not completed a Text Preparation.

Final Exam Preparation Sheet

April 7 Special Meeting Time 7-9 p.m. (no tutorial today)

wrap-up and review of material for final exam


Saturday, April 11, 2 p.m., MDCL 1102

  Copyright © 2009 Dana Hollander