Trialogue: God in the Voting Booth? The Role of Religion in American Presidential Politics

This Trialogue is the culmination of the upper-division seminar course Religion 120 by the UCLA Center for the Study of Religion. The panel discussion is being co-sponsored by the Academy for Judaic, Christian, and Islamic Studies.

Convener and Moderator

Reinhard Krauss, Ph.D.
Lecturer, UCLA Center for the Study of Religion

Panelists

Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Ph.D.
Rector and Professor of Philosophy, American Jewish University, Los Angeles
Diane Winston, Ph.D.
Knight Center Chair in Media and Religion, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
Aziza Hassan, M.A.
Executive Director, New Ground – A  Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change

Date/Time

Thursday, June 2, 2016
4:00 – 6:00 PM

Reception to Follow

Free Admission • All are welcome!

Location

UCLA

Royce Hall 306

The United States of America is ‘exceptional.’ The United States is an outlier among industrialized nations with regard to the religious commitment of its citizens. According to an extensive survey last year, 54% of Americans said that religion was a very important part of their lives. In the next three most affluent countries, less than a quarter of respondents gave the same answer, even those in close geographical proximity to the US. Only 24% of Canadians, and 21% of Germans and Australians, respectively, indicated that religion is very important to them.

In a democracy, politics must engage with the commitments of the electorate. Since the birth of the American Republic, religious voters have been and continue to be are a significant – and at times even decisive – sector of the electorate. In a 2007 Gallup poll, for example, 53% of US citizens indicated that they would rule out voting for a presidential candidate who was atheist. (This was actually 5% more than 20 years earlier)

As the current presidential race shows, religion continues to play a significant role – for better or worse – in American presidential politics. The website of Religion Dispatches, the online magazine which Dr. Winston edits, defines their editorial policy as follows:

“we are committed to the idea that once religion makes its way into the public square it becomes fair game in the rough and tumble of public debate. As editors, we aim to give religious topics some air and light and to challenge easy assumptions about the moral status of religious ideas.”

This statement will also serve as an appropriate hermeneutical framework for this Trialogue. Each of the three panelists brings expert knowledge about the subject from their respective vantage point.

The event is free and open to those interested in exploring a key issue of concern in contemporary religious and cultural studies.

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