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  • RWU - Religion and the State

All panels, roundtables, keynotes to be held in the Appellate CourtroomRoom 283

Ali BanuaziziKeynote Address 1: Ali Banuazizi
Title: Politicization of Religion or Sacralization of Politics: Two Faces of Political Islam
Thursday April 23rd 5:00pm -6:30pm 

The recent wanton acts of violence, ethno-religious conflicts, and civil wars in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe—involving, for the most part, Muslims as perpetrators or victims—have raised the question of whether Islam as a religion is inherently more political and prone to violence and extremism than other religions. After exploring several current explanations of the presumed root causes of these events, the lecture seeks to draw a distinction between two different manifestations of political Islam today, one involving the “politicization of religion” and the other the “sacralization of politics,” which are quite different in their origins, ideological appeals, claims to legitimacy, and political objectives, as well as policy implications for the states that are directly involved and the outside powers.

Ali Banuazizi is Professor of Political Science at Boston College and Director of the Program in Islamic Civilization & Societies. After receiving his Ph. D. from Yale University in 1968, he taught at Yale and the University of Southern California before joining the Boston College Faculty in 1971. Since then, he has held visiting appointments at the University of Tehran, Princeton, Harvard, and Oxford University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and M.I.T. He served as the founding editor of the journal of Iranian Studies, from 1968 to 1982.  He is a past President of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) and the International Society for Iranian Studies (ISIS), and, currently, Associate Editor of the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World.Ali Banuazizi is the author of numerous articles on society, culture, and politics of Iran and the Middle East, and the coauthor (with A. Ashraf) of Tabaqat-e ijtima’i, dowlat va enqelab dar Iran [Social Classes, the State and Revolution in Iran] (2008) and coeditor (with Myron Weiner) of three books on politics, religion and society in Southwest and Central Asia.

R. Ward HolderKeynote Address 2: R. Ward Holder
Title: Christian Realism as a Model for Religion’s Influence in the State: Options, Statecraft, and Realpolitik
Friday April 24th 11:00am - 12:30pm 

With the much-discussed inheritance from Reinhold Niebuhr, and with a demonstrated desire to put progressive Christianity back into both politics and American statecraft, Barack Obama constructed a model that incited both applause and derision. Progressive Christian realists saw this as the vindication of the Niebuhrian legacy. Fundamentalist idealists, Christians unwilling to compromise with the mud and blood of statecraft, and liberals who feared the inclusion of any faith stance in governing came to far less sanguine conclusions. This address seeks, therefore, to consider Christian realism against the small variety of options for allowing religion to influence governing that pass constitutional muster. With the advent of another election, the topic of influence of faith in governance is sure to be more prominent, rather than waning.

R. Ward Holder is a historical and political theologian, and professor of theology at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.  He writes on the Reformation, biblical interpretation, and the manner in which religious convictions shape modern politics and political theory.  Among other works, he has authored John Calvin and the Grounding of Interpretation: Calvin’s First Commentaries, Brill, 2006; and has edited A Companion to Paul in the Reformation, Brill, 2009.  More recently he has co-authored  with Peter B. Josephson The Irony of Barack Obama: Barack Obama, Reinhold Niebuhr, and the Problem of Christian Statecraft, Ashgate 2012, and his most recent work was co-edited with Josephson, The American Election 2012: Contexts and Consequences, Palgrave – 2014.