HDS 2192

Secularism, Pluralism, and the Category of Religion

K. Healan Gaston


This course will explore how secularism and pluralism have figured in recent scholarship on the construction of the category of religion. We will begin by asking how prominent theorists of secularization and pluralization have described these processes and their relation to one another, before turning to the question of how these processes relate to the -isms they inspire: secularism and pluralism. After laying these foundations, we will consider how historians of American religion have portrayed secularism, pluralism, and the relationship between the two, with an eye to the historical metanarratives these concepts imply. Does a robust defense of religious pluralism require an embrace of secularism or antagonism to it? Do secularism's claims to neutrality undermine religious pluralism or allow it to flourish? Are secularism and pluralism opposed to one another, or are they closely related concepts? In addition to completing the assigned readings and posting a short quote and question to the course website each week, students will write either a 25-page original research paper or three shorter analytical papers.

Enrollment Limited: Limited to 15 students. Instructor's permission required.
Open to BTI Students: Yes
Jointly offered as Religion 1056

Course website


0.50 credits
Spring 2015
Tues 4pm-6pm
Divinity Hall Room 106

Relationship to Program Requirements

Program Requirement Area / Category / Art / Designation
MTS Area(s) of Focus
  • Comparative Studies
  • History of Christianity
  • Religions of the Americas
  • Religion and the Social Sciences
MDiv Distribution Category/ies
  • Christianity
MDiv Art(s) of Ministry None
Language Course Designation(s) None