You are here

Religion and Politics Unit

Call for Proposals

  1. Co-sponsored session with the History of Christianity Unit
    We seek to foster an interdisciplinary discussion on the relationship between religion and historical elections. This session seeks papers that address how religion has influenced historical elections at various levels of government. We are open to all periods of American history and encourage proposals historically rooted before the 21st century. We ask: what historical examples can we turn to better understand the relationship between religion and elections, and how can this help us understand the present moment?

  2. Co-sponsored session with the Space, Place, and Religion Unit
    We seek papers that analyze examples of religious places and spaces that are made or developed by the political state. Possible themes could address mechanics of religious places’ development and the means by which a state sanctifies the nation as sacred space; the kinds of religious space(s) that states create; and applications of spatial theory and methodologies to help think through the entanglements state actions create with historically sacred landscapes and places. We especially seek papers that address specific examples of how states create and authorize religious places and spaces.

  3. Co-sponsored session with the Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence Unit
    Religious communities are both targets and consumers of surveillance. State monitoring of faith groups has a lengthy history, with particular strategies deployed in different periods and unique contexts. Yet academic analysis of religious practice as a site of and for security surveillance remains in its infancy. This panel seeks to encourage discussion about the ways in which religious identity is invoked by socio-political authorities as a justification for its surveilled gaze of "others;" how some members of religious groups deploy surveillance tactics, like social media "trolling," to advance their own agendas and possibly silence vulnerable members of society; and the complicity of technology companies in engaging in overt and covert surveillance, oftentimes supported by the state apparatus. Ideally, these and other topics will be explored across a range of geographical contexts and faith traditions.

  4. We also ask for papers on the intersection of religion and politics from a national and an international perspective on any topic but this year we are particularly interested in:
    a. The Election of 2020
    Including: polling integrity, voting access, security at polling places, and demographic electoral shifts

b. Artificial Intelligence
Including: bias in programming, moral and philosophical questions, issues related to legal culpability, transhumanism, and religious pronouncements on the ethical implications of AI.

c. Religion, Protest, and Revolution
We particularly invite papers with an international focus on the role of religious actors, beliefs, movements, and institutions in recent uprisings and protests.

d. The Religious Left and the Religious Right
Seeking papers that address new directions in these movements or that discuss limitations and complications of traditional left/right binaries (e.g., Obama-Trump voters, conservative "Never Trumpers," non-white evangelicals, as well as "ex-vangelicals").

Statement of Purpose

This Unit provides a forum for scholars and professionals interested in the relationships between religion, the state, and political life, both in the United States and around the world. Our members focus on the interaction between religious and political values, movements, and commitments, and the role of religious individuals and communities in bodies politic. This focus includes attention to the ways in which religion and religious actors participate in public discourse, contribute to debates over public values and social policy, and affect — and are affected by — activity in the political sphere. We welcome members doing both normative and descriptive work from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, including religious studies, political science, philosophy, social ethics, law (including church–state studies), history (as it relates to contemporary understandings), and theology. We seek to advance scholarly inquiry on religion and politics and we seek also to speak to broad and diverse publics about areas falling under the Unit’s purview.

We also maintain a year-round Religion and Politics Google group, which is open to all AAR members here:!forum/aar-religionandpolitics


  • John D. Carlson, Arizona State University
    1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
  • Rachel M. Scott, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023

Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members