HSTS 4210: Religion in America

Fall 2013

Class Days:  Wednesday
Class Times:  5:00-8:00 p.m.
Course Credits:  3
Classroom:  Dial 214

Course Description and Goals: 
This course is a chronological survey of the role of religion in American life from colonial times to the present.  It will explore the theological, social, cultural, economic, and political aspects of American society.  It will also provide students with an understanding of the basic facts and concepts of American religious history through the assigned readings, lectures, class discussion, and multi-media presentations.  Exams will measure understanding of the aforementioned facts and concepts, and writing assignments will help students develop critical-thinking and communication skills.

John Corrigan & Winthrop S. Hudson, Religion in America: An Historical Account of the Development of American Religious Life, 7/E
David L. Holmes, The Faiths of the Founding Fathers
Grant Wacker, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture
Randall H. Balmer, God in the White House, A History: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush

Grading Scale: 

A         94-100
A-        90-93
B+       87-89
B         84-86
B-        80-83
C+      77-79
C         74-76
C-        70-73
D+      67-69
D         64-66
D-        60-63
F          0-59

Presentation:  10%
Book Reviews:  30%
Journal Entries:  30% (Ten points each)
Final Exam:  30%

Exam and Other Assignments: 
The only exam in this course will be a take-home final, which should be submitted via email to scott.billingsley@uncp.edu and whereby you will synthesize the concepts and information covered throughout the semester.  Specific information about the exam will be available on Blackboard later in the term.  There will be several out-of-class writing assignments that make up a substantial portion of your final grade.  1) Each student will write reviews of 900-1200 words (3-4 pages) for three of the required texts, which should be submitted via email to scott.billingsley@uncp.edu according to the course schedule below.  These should be typed, double-spaced, and have appropriate citations for additional sources consulted.  You should use the most recent edition of The Chicago Manual of Style for your style guide; copies of CMS are located in Mary Livermore Library.  Further instructions for writing book reviews are located on the course Blackboard site.  2) Most weeks I will assign a supplement (journal article, book chapter, primary source document, multimedia presentation, etc.), which will be available on the course Blackboard site.  For each supplement, you will be required to submit a journal entry of 200-300 words by noon each Wednesday.  I will provide a question for you to focus on, and you will develop a thesis and provide evidence from the supplement to support your answer.  You are expected to discuss this material during the class discussion.  I reserve the right to add pop quizzes to the syllabus to ensure that you are reading all of this material.  3) Each student will make a short oral presentation on September 25.  Additional information for this assignment will be provided on the course Blackboard site.  Please bear in mind that this is a college-level course that requires a considerable amount of work outside of class.  The advice that many professors give their students is to study six hours per week for a three-hour course.  Although some weeks may require more or less study time, this is generally a good rule to follow.  I recommend that you consult the following website for more information about how to study and succeed in college:  http://www.howtostudy.com/.

Attendance Policy: 
Students are expected to attend class regularly and be on time.  You are responsible for getting any information from class lecture and discussion that you might miss due to your absence before the next class meeting.  Please consult the section on Class Attendance Policy in the catalog (http://www.uncp.edu/catalog/pdf/acad_pol.pdf) for official University policy.

Make-up Policy: 
Students should provide me with an approved written excuse (doctor’s note, jury notice, obituary, etc.) if they are unable to complete the exam by the stated deadline.  Book reviews must be turned in on the date due; students will lose ten points for each calendar day the assignment is late.  Journal entries must be turned in on the date due; students will lose one point for each calendar day the assignment is late.  You must submit all of the writing assignments and complete the final exam in order to receive credit for this course.

Religious Holiday Policy:
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke has a legal and moral obligation to accommodate all students who must be absent from classes or miss scheduled exams in order to observe religious holidays; we must be careful not to inhibit or penalize these students for exercising their rights to religious observance.  To accommodate students’ religious holidays, each student will be allowed two excused absences each semester with the following conditions:

  1. Students, who submit written notification to their instructors within two weeks of the beginning of the semester, shall be excused from class or other scheduled academic activity to observe a religious holy day of their faith.  Excused absences are limited to two class sessions (days) per semester. 
  2. Students shall be permitted a reasonable amount of time to make up tests or other work missed due to an excused absence for a religious observance.
  3. Students should not be penalized due to absence from class or other scheduled academic activity because of religious observances.  

A student who is to be excused from class for a religious observance is not required to provide a second-party certification of the reason for the absence.  Furthermore, a student who believes that he or she has been unreasonably denied an education benefit due to religious beliefs or practices may seek redress through the student grievance procedure.

Code of Conduct:
Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the University’s Code of Conduct outlined in the student handbook (www.uncp.edu/studentconduct/code/).  Disruptive behavior in the classroom, including extraneous talking and the use of electronic devices, will not be tolerated and may result in expulsion from the class.

Communication Policy:
Students should regularly check their University email accounts and the Announcements section of the Blackboard site for information about the course. It is the students’ responsibility to consult these sources and be aware of any announcements or revisions to the course schedule.

Students with Documented Disabilities:
Federal laws require UNCP to accommodate students with documented learning, physical, chronic health, psychological, visual or hearing disabilities. In post-secondary school settings, academic accommodations are not automatic; to receive accommodations, students must make a formal request and must supply documentation from a qualified professional to support that request. Students who believe they qualify must contact Disability Support Services (DSS) in DF Lowry Building, Room 107 or call 910-521-6695 to begin the accommodation process. All discussions remain confidential.  Accommodations cannot be provided retroactively. More information for students about the services provided by DSS and the accommodation process may be found at the following links: 


Withdrawal from the Course: 
The last day you may drop this course with a grade of “W” is Wednesday October 16, 2013.

Academic Honesty: 
Academic misconduct in any form will not be tolerated.  It is your responsibility to recognize and understand the various types of academic misconduct, including plagiarism.  Please consult the Academic Honor Code in the student handbook (http://www.uncp.edu/sa/pol_pub/honor_code.htm) for official guidelines regarding the definition and handling of academic misconduct.  I recommend that you consult the following websites for more information regarding plagiarism:


Grade Notification: 
To protect the confidentiality of student records, I will not discuss grades via the telephone or email.  Please see me personally or consult Blackboard or Braveweb if you wish to know your grades.

Course Schedule:  See Blackboard for detailed instructions.

August 14: Course Introduction/American Indians

August 21:  Contact/Puritans:  God in America (A New Adam); Hudson, chapters 1 & 2; Journal entry on “Salem Witchcraft Controversy” due by noon on Wednesday August 21.

August 28:  Great Awakening/American Revolution:  Hudson, chapters 3 & 4; Journal entry on Jonathan Edwards due by noon on Wednesday August 28.

September 4:  Early Republic:  God in America (A New Eden); Hudson, chapters 5 & 6; Review of David L. Holmes’ The Faiths of the Founding Fathers due by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday September 3.

September 11:  Second Great Awakening/Reform Movements/Sectarianism/Utopianism:  Hudson, chapters 7 & 8; Journal entry on John Humphrey Noyes due by noon on Wednesday September 11.

September 18:  Slave Religion/Abolitionism/Civil War/Lost Cause:  God in America (A Nation Reborn); Hudson, chapter 9; Journal entry on Frederick Douglass and George D. Armstrong due by noon on Wednesday September 18.

September 25:  Immigration/Social Gospel:  Hudson, chapters 9, 10, & 12; Student presentations.

October 2:  Judaism/Modernism/Fundamentalism:  God in America (A New Light); Hudson, chapters 11, 13, & 14; Journal entry on William Jennings Bryan and Shailer Mathews due by noon on Wednesday October 2.

October 9: Holiness-Pentecostal Movements:  Hudson, chapter 13; Review of Grant Wacker’s Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture due by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday October 8.

October 16:  Progressivism/World War I/Roaring Twenties:  Elmer Gantry (movie); Hudson, chapters 10 & 12; Journal entry on Aimee Semple McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman due by noon on Wednesday October 16.

October 23:  Great Depression/World War II:  Hudson, chapter 14; Journal entry on Michael Casey, “From Religious Outsiders to Insiders: The Rise and Fall of Pacifism in the Churches of Christ,” Journal of Church and State 44 (Summer 2002): 455-475 due by noon on Wednesday October 23.

October 30:  Post-war America/Cold War/Civil Rights:  God in America (Soul of a Nation); Hudson, chapters 13-16; Journal entry on David J. Garrow, “Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Spirit of Leadership,” Journal of American History 74 (September 1987): 438-47 due by noon on Wednesday October 30.

November 6:  Counterculture/NRMs:  Hudson, chapter 16; Jonestown:  The Life and Death of Peoples Temple; Journal entry on Jonestown and the Branch Davidians due by noon on Wednesday November 6.

November 13:  New Immigrants/Pluralism/Multiculturalism (first half of class): Hudson, chapters 14-16; Journal entry on Immigration and Nationality Act due by noon on Wednesday November 13.

November 20:  Religious Right/Religious Left:  God in America (Of God and Ceasar); Hudson, chapters 13-16; Review of Randall H. Balmer’s God in the White House, A History: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush due by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday November 19.

December 4: Final Exam due by 11:59 p.m.

    Updated: Wednesday, August 14, 2013