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God bless America

Erin Wilson and Sam Van Leer

Religion plays a major role in American society. It has influenced the formation of the US and has shaped its national identity. What is the influence of religion on American politics and the presidential elections?

Religion plays an integral role in American society. It has influenced the formation of the US and has shaped its national identity. The relationship between religion and politics in the US provides a distinct point of contrast and at times confusion for European observers.  Religious language pervades popular and political culture, which is apparent in numerous speeches from political leaders, including Obama and Romney. In what ways does religion impact on the political process in the US? How important are the perceptions of the religion of a presidential candidate for the elections? Is religion a significant influence on voting patterns? Political scientist Erin Wilson and Anglican priest Sam van Leer will discuss the differences between US and European forms of secularization, reflecting in particular on how religion influences society and politics in the US. How do the historical separation of church and state, the polarization of different religious groups and growing ethnic diversity contribute to religious vitality in the US?

Erin Wilson is Director of the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen. Her research focuses on the intersection between religion and politics within Western society and culture, in particular the influence of religion on political rhetoric. In addition, she has written on religion and the politics of asylum in Australia, active citizenship and religion and global justice.  She is the author of the book After Secularism: Rethinking Religion in Global Politics (2012). Forthcoming publications include Justice Globalism (2013), co-authored with Manfred B. Steger and James Goodman.

Sam Van Leer is currently Associate Chaplain for the Anglican Church in Groningen, and a member of the pastoral team of the Groninger Studentenplatform voor Levensbeschouwing (GSp), serving Groningen’s University and Technical College students and staff.  He is also the Anglican representative to the Netherlands National Council of Churches.  Before studying for ordained ministry in the Church of England at Durham University (UK), he obtained degrees in Politics from the US universities of Virginia and California-Berkeley, and did research in Comparative Politics. He has served as Anglican pastor in Bern and Neuchatel, Switzerland, and in Arnhem, Nijmegen and Twente, in the Netherlands. 

Interesting links
Book by Erin Wilson After Secularism: Rethinking Religion in Global Politics
University of Groningen Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain

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